Alameda County Community Asset Network, AC CAN, held it’s fall stakeholder convening, The Results are In: Analysis of Financial Education in Youth Workforce Programs,  as a continuation of it’s work this year to help youth workforce programs integrate financial education and financial products into their programs.  Last spring AC CAN held an event to assess youth workforce programs’ interest in bringing financial education and products to youth, and the response was loud and clear. Workforce program providers are well aware of the need for financial education and are looking for effective ways to incorporate it into their programs.  Programs are at many different stages, and identified different needs and barriers in creating the kinds of programs they would like to see. Building on this event, AC CAN completed a data collection process during summer youth workforce programs, when the largest number of youth tend to be working.  The data summarizes the experiences of workforce providers in Alameda County.

AC CAN used the fall event to present the preliminary data to participants, many of whom had taken part in the data project.  Using the data as a jumping off point, AC CAN facilitated a conversation to identify what strategies and supports workforce providers needed in order to continue building youth financial management skills. When the final report is released, it will include a data snapshot of current financial education in Alameda County youth workforce programs, as well as strategies to enable workforce programs to increase their financial education capability.

At the fall stakeholder convening Rosalyn Epstein, AC CAN Program Coordinator, Trish Johnson, Executive Director of Game Theory Academy, and Sabrina Kansara, Director of Strategy at MyPath shared a first look at the summarized data.  33 youth workforce programs contributed data to the project, and together, they served over 11,000 youth this summer. AC CAN found that workforce programs are eager to provide financial education to youth, and most have already started to do so. The majority of programs focus their education on topics such as budgeting and the differences between banking products (debit cards, credit cards, etc). Many programs want to provide education on additional topics such as taxes and wage withholding, credit use, renting an apartment, or paying for college, but need more support to do so.

The majority of programs use their own staff to teach financial education and get their materials from a variety of sources including developing them internally, from other organizations, or online. Many of the programs use curriculum from a combination of sources.  Programs identified lack of content knowledge as the most common barrier to providing education.

At the Stakeholder Convening providers requested support to identify curriculum/materials which are accurate, relevant, and appropriate for the specific populations which they serve.  Some programs were interested in financial capability training for their staff, coupled with ongoing support so that staff has resources in challenging situations.  Other programs preferred to bring in outside experts in the field.

Some of the workforce programs already connect youth to financial products but there are still many barriers for youth to open accounts.  The main ones are access barriers (no government ID, unable to get an account in their own name, no financial institutions in the neighborhood) and experience barriers (negative banking experiences of family and community, not feeling welcome or comfortable in financial institutions). At the Convening, providers identified that they needed access to free financial accounts which are appropriate for youth so that they could feel confident in promoting accounts to youth.  They also discussed some programs’ need to phase in the inclusion of financial accounts over time, as their capacity grows, and the importance of seamlessly integrating financial accounts into the rest of the program so that they are simple for youth to access.

Ultimately, youth workforce programs are providing so much more than a job to the young people they serve.  They are teaching youth how to navigate in the workplace, how to conduct themselves, and how to address conflict.  When youth learn these skills and habits, they are being set up for long-term success in the world of work.  It makes sense, therefore, that workforce programs are also a good time to set youth on the path to financial success through introducing them to strong habits and skills for managing their money.  AC CAN wants to thank the amazing group of youth workforce providers who are helping youth to develop work skills and working hard to set them on the road to financial capability.

Please watch out for the release of the final AC CAN Financial Education in Youth Workforce Report soon.

Download resources from the event:

Please download the compendium of resources from the Convening, including the agenda, presenter bios, and slides used during the event.

At AC CAN’s Spring Convening, we held a panel of financial education, product, and service providers.  Please download the packet to find quality service providers you may want to partner with.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB, recently released new research on the three building blocks of financial capability and at what point in childhood and youth they should be acquired. Click here for more information and links.