All of the Foundation’s youth programs have been developed to teach entrepreneurship, business, financial literacy, investing, leadership and health awareness education to economically-disadvantaged teenage youths. The Foundation is filling an important educational void by empowering economically disadvantaged youths with the capacity for long-term self sufficiency.
Statistics regarding youth education in personal finance has been dismal. A recent survey by the Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. found that the majority of college students say they learn the most about personal finance from their parents, but less than half of students say their parents make a consistent, conscientious effort to teach them. And, more than 75% of all students surveyed, wish they would receive more help preparing for their financial future.
Despite the critical importance of teaching financial literacy to young people, the average student who graduates from high school lacks basic skills in the management of personal finance. A nationwide survey conducted in 2017 by the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy examined the financial knowledge of 5,775 12th graders. On average, survey respondents answered only 52.4 percent of the questions correctly. A poll conducted by Harris Interactive in 2017 found that 93% of high school students feel it is important to have a good understanding of economics, but 60% get an F on a basic economics quiz. The number of 18 to 24-year-olds declaring bankruptcy has increased 96% in the past 10 years, according to the Richmond Credit Abuse Resistant Education Program. Well-informed, well-educated consumers have the potential to make better decisions for their families, increasing their economic security and overall well-being, Secure households and families are better able to contribute to vital, thriving communities and foster community economic development. An effective and efficient marketplace requires knowledgeable consumers who make informed choices.
Therefore, financial literacy is important for the individual, family, and community. Furthermore, the need for quality entrepreneurship education and training is becoming apparent to students, policy makers, and educators. According to a 2017 survey by Junior Achievement, 70.9% of students age 13 to 18 dream of starting a business sometime in the future, and almost 84% of the teens said there is greater job satisfaction in owning a business than working for someone else. However, approximately 75% of high school students say they do not receive adequate business and entrepreneurship training in school, according to a study conducted by the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. While not all at-risk or disadvantaged students see the value of education in general, they all have a basic desire to be financially successful and rewarded in life and work, once they get out of school. Entrepreneurship education benefits at-risk youth by showing them how their academic studies affect their future ability to produce income.
In an entrepreneurship classroom discussion, students can be shown how each subject in school relates to the way that business and industries operate and are developed. Students realize that an entrepreneur can’t have a successful company without knowledge of how their products are made and developed (science and chemistry), how to write a proposal or business plan (English composition), how to do accounting (math), and how law pertains to industry (government and social studies). Entrepreneurship education also gives students an edge in the work environment. It presents options besides being an employee with little opportunity and instills stronger leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving skills — all vital skills that employers highly value. Whether students ultimately become business owners or not, business and entrepreneurship training prepare them to be more valuable employees, better leaders in the community, and more responsible citizens.
The YoungBiz Programs yield impressive results and outcomes in a short period of time, as the following six examples illustrate:
1) Students learn to use appropriate financial and business terms to discuss their personal finances and/or business finances. Instructors administer written pre-tests for all students entering initial Smart Start programs and written post-tests for all students completing Smart Start programs lasting 12 hours or more. For students who have been present and participated in at least 90% of the designated program, the average post-test score improves 20% or more.
2) Students who attend Smart Start entrepreneurship programs begin to think more entrepreneurially and learn to recognize and identify legal money-making opportunities for young people within their communities. Instructors present five key signs of money-making opportunity and guide students in developing lists of money-making opportunities/ideas for micro-enterprises students believe a young person could operate. 80% of students who receive 5-12 hours of entrepreneurship instruction develop lists of 10-20 money making opportunities/ideas and 80% of students who receive 15-25 hours of entrepreneurship instruction develop lists of 20-40 money-making opportunities/ideas.
Students also learn ways to market a youth-owned business and develop sample marketing materials. Students develop sample marketing materials such as business cards, flyers, or posters to advertise youth-owned business enterprises they might like to start. 80% of students who receive 5-12 hours of entrepreneurship instruction develop sample business cards for a business enterprise of their choice, and 80% of students who receive 15-25 hours of entrepreneurship instruction develop two of the following types of marketing materials: business card, flyer, or poster.
3) Students who attend Smart Start financial literacy programs become more aware of the importance as well as the benefits of setting financial goals and saving for the future. Instructors lead activities that demonstrate the benefits of planning for the future and guide students in developing a written list of specific financial goals they would like to achieve. 80% of students who receive 5-12 hours of financial literacy instruction develop lists of at least 3 specific and measureable financial goals they wish to achieve, and 80% of students who receive 15-25 hours of financial literacy instruction develop lists of at least 3 short term and 3 long term financial goals that are specific, measureable, and time related.
4) Students learn the importance of avoiding risky financial or business behaviors such as the unwise use of credit, making impulse buying decisions, over-spending, or investing money in a business enterprise without doing adequate research. After instructor-led discussions, students work in teams to develop cartoon drawings that illustrate various types of financial or business risks a young person might be tempted to take and how they would reduce and/or avoid these risky behaviors. 90% of students who participate in this segment of the Smart Start program work in a team to produce a cartoon drawing depicting a good way to avoid an unnecessary financial or business risk and give a 30-second oral presentation that explains the message of their cartoon.
Students in this program also learn about the various services a bank offers its customers and understand how a bank account can help them manage their money. After learning about the services banks offer, students practice banking skills by receiving YoungBiz “dollars” or “bucks” for participation in class activities, making decisions about whether to save or spend the bucks, and keep a running “tally” sheet or register throughout the program showing how many bucks they currently have in their “account.” 70% of the students keep accurate written records, make appropriate saving and spending decisions with their YoungBiz “bucks,” and are able to logically explain the financial decisions they made during this banking simulation.
One of my students, Isabelle, came across your website while searching for business education websites and info. For a project, my computer science class is building a website. They decided as a class to build an website that could help teach teens how to build their own business. Each student has been tasked with researching online particular topics and Isabelle has been busy finding info on business management for us. She came across your website and shared it with the class today. I just wanted to email and say thanks for making it available to us!!
- Mia Turner of Student Mentors