15 Year Reflections: Founder Lloyd Levin and the SecureFutures team
As we mark 15 years of life-changing financial capability programming for teens, we’ll be hearing from members of our community looking back on our impact and forward to our future.
Reflection from Lloyd Levin – Founder
On March 3, 2006 my dear friend Marty Stein said, in a letter printed in the Milwaukee Journal the day after his passing, “I implore you, not for me but for all our great grandchildren – get involved in a child’s life! Help them see the opportunities, enable them to be all they can be.”
I founded Make A Difference – Wisconsin (now SecureFutures) to respond to that challenge. In the past 15 years we have been unbelievably successful (reaching over 90,000 high school students); under the leadership of Brenda Campbell we have created an organization that is recognized state-wide as one of the best not-for-profits in Wisconsin; and, we have garnered the support of over 1,200 mentor/volunteers to deliver our programming.
We, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, have led the movement to mandate financial literacy education in every Wisconsin school system. Our network of supporters throughout the state is incredible and we are financially solvent.
But we must not simply embrace the praise of “a job well done.” Although we have made an impact in building “secure futures” at the high schools and community organizations where we mainly work, there is still much to do to fulfill my original intention to “make a difference” in Wisconsin. We must be an energetic part of creating change in our community. The intolerable situation experienced by many under-resourced youngsters in Milwaukee and beyond, bemoaned by Marty Stein 15 years ago, continues to exist.
Many of our mentors and coaches have become role models for our students, and in turn have been taught by these students that a new generation of role models is rising up to meet the need. If our organization has facilitated this movement, then we will have lived up to our name — SecureFutures — which will truly apply to our students, to our mentors, and to our community.
Reflections from the SecureFutures team
We are laser-focused on providing the best financial education programming delivered in a way that engages and motivates students to plan well for their future. We collaborate with educators and students and try to be really good at a few things that drive students to take action and take control of their financial future.
SecureFutures doesn’t sit still. We constantly assess the needs of the students and educators we serve and enhance existing or design new programs to provide them with the resources they need to begin building a secure financial future.
I am inspired by the passion our staff, partner educators, volunteers, donors, and board have for supporting the learning needs of the teens in Wisconsin. The students truly give me energy as we see them learn and hear their stories of becoming empowered to take control of their financial future. – Pat Rorabeck, Business Director
A unique feature of SecureFutures is its focused mission. We are here to do one thing, and that thing is to empower teens through financial literacy.
Over the last 15 years, how we work toward that has changed and expanded, but the mission is at the core of everything that we do. This focus is part of the strong foundation that has enabled us to successfully adapt to a variety of changes, challenges, and opportunities over the years. Every time that a decision is made, big or small, we ask ourselves whether it is in service of our mission. It is our touchpoint that keeps us centered, guides our work, and prevents us from getting distracted. It provides direction, without rigidity. We have been able to evolve and adapt so well because we know who we are and what we are aiming for.
I’m grateful to be a part of an organization where the mission connects to the daily work of our whole team and you can really feel that we are all pulling in the same direction toward the same goal. – Kristen Ruhl, Program Director
What makes me the most proud about being a part of the SecureFutures team is how much each individual truly cares about the young people we serve. Everyone really gives their all into providing the best resources to teach and empower young people to make financially sound decisions. I also love the way SecureFutures highlights those who have been impacted by the organization while staying true to their stories. – Kiana Ayala, Money Coach Program Manager
I am proud to be a part of SecureFutures because we are an organization that walks our talk. To be able to see the impact in real time keeps me going and let’s me know that we are a part of a solution. I love our students, our mission and our team. – Stephaine Crosley, Money Coach Program Manager
I’m proud of the flexibility of this organization and our agility in responding to the needs of our community, especially during times of such uncertainty with virtual learning. When we see a change is needed, everyone on the team is pulling in the same direction to make a positive impact. – Patrick Armstrong, Money Sense and Money Path Program Manager
As I reflect on the 15 year anniversary of SecureFutures, I am struck by the generosity, longevity, and loyalty of our supporters who have made it possible to reach close to 90,000 teens. They understand that the need never goes away, since each year there is a new group of teens who need to be empowered to own their financial futures through financial education and mentoring. – Annmarie Baumgartner, Development Director
I’m proud to know that we are changing lives, not only the lives of students, but also our staff, volunteers, donors and allies. We are coming together despite differences in backgrounds, age, gender, etc. and are learning things from each other that we may not have experienced had it not been for SecureFutures. Our volunteers not only share their financial knowledge, but also real life knowledge. In turn students share their real experiences and build meaningful mentoring relationships. – Felecia Fluker, Program Associate