Partner Spotlight: Running Rebels
As they near 40 years of existence, Running Rebels has shown a remarkable longevity and adaptability in serving and empowering youth in urban Milwaukee. Starting in 1980 with a focus on providing young people with recreational alternatives to gang involvement, the organization has developed a uniquely holistic mission of empowering Milwaukee youth to become thriving, connected, and contributing adult members of the community.
Sharon Cross, Running Rebels’ Operations Coordinator, recognizes that an important part of preparing young people up for adulthood is ensuring that they have an understanding of their finances.
“Part of our mission is to help ‘coach youth through their transition into adulthood.’ SecureFutures aligns with us by teaching young people the financial skills they will need to lead successful adult lives,” Sharon said. “We recognize that financial security can allow young people to live with less stress and help them to achieve their goals such as attend college, buy a car, and eventually start a family or own a house.”
This spring, SecureFutures brought the Money Path program to Running Rebels for the first time. Money Path is SecureFutures’ web-based application that allows students to create a comprehensive career, education, and financial plan for their future after high school graduation.
Brandy Johnson, who has volunteered for SecureFutures for five years, facilitated the program and saw immediate engagement from the participants at Running Rebels.
“The teens had a lot of really good questions and wanted to explore more real life financial scenarios,” Brandy said. “I knew right in that moment that financial literacy is something they take very seriously and they wanted to learn more.”
Brandy has her own memories of growing up in urban Milwaukee, which is part of the reason she was drawn towards the opportunity to volunteer at SecureFutures.
“I wasn’t aware there was a financial literacy program like this that provided students materials and assistance on how to financially prepare for the big moments in life,” Brandy said. “Having the background I do being an inner city kid without having access to financial programs like Secure Futures and currently working for a bank, it just made sense.”
Sharon noted how significant it was to the teens at Running Rebels to be learning from someone who shared some of their experiences.
“Money Path created an important space for teens to learn from someone that looked like them, who had real life experiences, and was open about past financial struggles,” she said. “Having such a relatable facilitator allowed our young people to ask deeper financial questions and encouraged them to start taking their financial future seriously.”
Both Brandy and Sharon see this as just the beginning when it comes to empowering Running Rebels youth with financial education.
“After the first session, many young people asked me to further discuss their finances and come up with a savings plan,” Sharon said.
“I left knowing that these students wanted to know more,” Brandy said. “I left this one session knowing that Running Rebels would be a perfect partner because they wanted to be as prepared as possible being young adults going out into a world where personal finance is key. Secure Futures has so much more to offer these students.”