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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. It’s a crucial moment to capture their attention and help them develop healthy financial habits for the future, says senior program manager, Carlo Solis.
MyPath uses Money Habitudes® cards in its foundational summer and year-round youth employment program partner sites. In the programs, which range from weeks to months in length, students typically go through a number of classes while they are working at their jobs. 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 given the opportunity to open an account with a local credit union. In the next meeting, they use Money Habitudes to better understand their financial habits and attitudes and explore their relationship with money. For many, it becomes clear that their families have had a strong influence on how they see and use money, says Solis. The students look at big and small decisions and many see daily choices like buying a movie ticket for a friend in a new light. Finally, youth work on tracking expenses, budgeting and setting savings goals using MyPath Money, MyPath’s platform accessible by smartphone, tablet or desktop. The program’s average savings rate is 34% and 96% of youth meet their savings goal.
Prior to welcoming youth into the program, MyPath trains its own 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 give them agency to make their own decisions,” says Solis.