Every so often, we come across something that makes us say, “We wish they had that when we were kids!”
And we’re not just talking about the Diane von Furstenberg collection at Gap, either.
We’re thinking more along the lines of some of the incredible financial opportunities offered to girls today: From investing contests to facilitated mentorships within the finance world, kids across the country are learning about money in new, innovative programs.
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Intrigued? So were we. So we called up the masterminds behind two of the most interesting (and free!) programs we’ve come across to learn more about their missions, their tactics and their success.
The Program: Invest in Girls
Sponsored by: Invest in Girls
Who It’s For: Girls ages 15-18
Where It’s Held: Westover, Milton Academy and Middlesex Schools in Boston (with plans to expand)
The Details: This 2-year-old program out of Boston offers high school girls a three-part finance education program for their sophomore, junior and senior years. Each year, the girls attend four after-school financial education workshops (covering everything from budgeting to capital markets) taught by a member of the Invest in Girls (IIG) team, in tandem with a female professional currently working in the financial industry. Members make off-site visits to see what working in finance actually looks like, and connect with female mentors within the industry to create lasting relationships.
Although the program is currently only being developed and tested in three Boston-area private schools, it will expand into select public and charter schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut in 2013.
The aim of IIG is to interest girls in careers in finance, which is why the program begins in high school. “We want to get girls interested in careers in the financial world, as well as help them become financially independent,” explains Gabrielle Rossetti, IIG Program Manager. “We’re trying to pique their interest in the financial world right as they start thinking about what they’ll study in college.”
But IIG isn’t just looking to get more girls into corporate finance. “We do workshops with the aim of teaching financial literacy,” Rossetti says. “We want the girls to have the confidence to be financially independent. When you feel confident about how you manage money, you’ll feel confident in other aspects of your life, including your career. It’s all connected.”
The Program: The Girls Inc./ING Investment Challenge
Sponsored by: ING
Who It’s For: Girls ages 12-18
Where It’s Held: Affiliated high schools in New York City, Denver, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Holyoke, MA, Houston and Washington, DC
Details: The ING Foundation, which is the community outreach branch of ING U.S., and Girls Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to the empowerment and advancement of girls across the country, have partnered to offer the Girls Inc./ING Investment Challenge, where teams of girls across the country learn to create and manage their own $50,000 virtual investment portfolios in accordance with the real patterns of the markets.
The best part? The team that makes the most money is awarded two-thirds of the investment gains in the portfolio as a college scholarship (the remaining third going to the local Girls Inc. affiliate to support programming). This year’s winning team was from the Urban Assembly Institute of Math & Science for Young Women in Brooklyn, and we were lucky enough to speak with two members: Samarra Scantlebury (left) and D’Leslie Jarvis (right.)
The girls, who both do community service and participate in cheerleading and dance, respectively, have been involved with the program since its inception in 2009 and have made $25,000 in returns after three years of investing as a team. “When I first heard [about the program], I was interested because I heard on the news about the stock market, and I’m always interested in making more money,” explains D’Leslie. “I was especially interested because I’m a woman, and I hear there aren’t a lot of women investors in the world. We’re making a difference one step at a time.”
And what has been the most valuable takeaway of the program? “When we went to the New York Stock Exchange and the symposium last summer, the men who were there were like, ‘We need to hire you guys!’” says Samarra. “We were able to meet with professional people who we can connect with in the future for internships and maybe even jobs.”
Would you send your daughter to one of these programs? And how is your community teaching girls about money?