Build a Stronger Community, One Teen At a Time

As a teenager born and raised in Milwaukee, Deajah Scott knows her path could have been drastically different.

She grew up without access to financial education or the opportunity to see sound money management. “With not a lot of access,” she explains, “there was not a lot of reason to become financially curious.”

She did not talk about money with her mom growing up because it was thought of as “grown folks’ business.” As long as the bills were paid and she had food on her plate, she didn’t need to know about budgeting or saving money…concepts she now knows are critical for future success in life.

She points to the widening racial wealth gap as part of the reason under-resourced families don’t talk about money, because if parents are struggling to get everything under control, why would they sit down and speak to their kids about it? “When you have this huge wealth gap, that’s when you get into the mindset that we can’t talk about money.”

Deajah didn’t have a bank account growing up. “I just kept all my money in a piggy bank.” That is, until she participated in the Money Coach program in high school. “Money Coach was my introduction to financial literacy; it was what got me curious about the financial choices I was making.”

With her newfound financial knowledge and skills, Deajah opened her first checking and savings accounts. She attributes her growth to the unique model of the Money Coach program which pays students each month for achieving program milestones. “Money Coach gave me the money to practice being smart and even make mistakes with. Without Money Coach, I wouldn’t have opened a Roth IRA when I did, and I wouldn’t budget as formally as I do now.”

The impact of Money Coach extends beyond Deajah’s own life as she shares what she’s learned from the program with her little sister and her roommate. Through her own empowerment, Deajah is becoming a catalyst for change within her community and setting a powerful example for future generations.

Deajah recently completed her summer internship at Northwestern Mutual and is now attending graduate school at the University of Chicago in pursuit of a law degree. “I can become a lawyer and make six figures, but those aren’t my six figures. I have a mother, I have aunties, I have uncles and I can’t just leave them struggling.” A raw revelation that emphasizes the critical importance of early financial education and its role in breaking the generational cycle of poverty.

Deajah’s story is not unique. It is a story that echoes throughout countless underserved communities where financial inclusion and access to financial education remain elusive. Generations of individuals are trapped in a cycle of limited financial knowledge, access, and opportunity that perpetuate wealth disparities.

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