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Talking About Money in a Youth Employment Program

A national nonprofit based in San Francisco, MyPath reaches 4,000 youth each year, ages 14-24, in California, Nevada, Washington, and Missouri through more than 50 partner sites. The organization focuses on building economic pathways by integrating banking and saving into youth employment programs.
youth financial educationA key part of MyPath’s model is to work with low-income youth at the time they get their first paychecks. Seizing this moment is crucial to fostering healthy financial habits for the future, emphasizes senior program manager Carlo Solis.
MyPath uses Money Habitudes® cards in its foundational summer and year-round youth employment program partner sites. In these programs, lasting from weeks to months, students usually attend multiple classes while concurrently employed. MyPath folds its curriculum into the programs’ existing structure with both in-person and technology delivery approaches.
MyPath begins by having the students consider the risks and benefits of putting their money in a traditional financial institution. Then participants are allowed to open an account with a local credit union. In the next meeting, they use Money Habitudes to understand their financial habits and attitudes, exploring their money relationships. Solis notes that, for many, it becomes clear that their families strongly influence how they perceive and manage money. Students examine both significant and minor decisions, often reevaluating daily choices, such as purchasing a movie ticket for a friend. Following that, they participate in activities to monitor expenses, formulate budgets, and establish savings objectives through MyPath Money, accessible on smartphones, tablets, or desktops. The program’s average savings rate is 34% and 96% of youth meet their savings goal.
Before welcoming youth into the program, MyPath trains its facilitators with Money Habitudes, in the spring. Doing so “kills two birds with one stone,” says Solis about how even adults who will be working with participants gain new financial self-knowledge that they find valuable. Solis prefers doing the activity with a group of 15-20 students and dedicates an hour to sorting and interpreting the Money Habitudes cards. He says that 99 percent of participants report that their money personality mix accurately describes their financial tendencies.
“Money Habitudes is very simple but profound. “We want youth to achieve their financial goals, and Money Habitudes helps empower them to make their own decisions,” says Solis.