Welcome to the new SecureFutures! You have helped us come so far since 2006, when we began as Make A Difference – Wisconsin, with a condensed curriculum in a handful of Milwaukee high schools.
So, now that we’ve empowered more than 62,000 teens across the state and into Chicago, why change the name? Like so many of our financial programs, it comes down to teens and a plan.
First, the teens. Fifteen months ago, when we started to explore what a new name and logo might look like, we shared a survey with you – our volunteers, advocates, supporters, education partners and students. A few hundred written and verbal responses later, we first paused to take in yet another reminder of the powerful movement that we’re part of. (Yes, I got teary eyed at your answers!)
In explaining what our financial education mission means to them, many of the adults used strong, foundational words like “budgets”, “saving” and “preparation”. However, there was an incredible shift in the language used in the survey responses from the teens we all believe in.
Teens repeatedly used words like “freedom”, “future”, “security” and “independence”. What an overwhelming reminder of why we are all so passionate about financial education in the first place! These students certainly learn personal finance fundamentals like banking, credit and loans. But they saw so clearly how finding financial capability now impacts their futures, their security and their independence.
When it came down to the rebranding exercises of what we do – and how we want to take it to the next level – we found ourselves coming back to those words the teens shared with us. Every teen deserves a secure future, their fair shot at the aspirations and dreams that connect our communities.
To make sure we’re doing our part toward the “SecureFutures” of young people, we’re officially changing our name to that very phrase, starting today, August 24, 2017.
The name is a flag in the ground. But, like we share with our students, it happens because of a plan. And here is the start of our plan to bring financial skills, confidence and guidance to every teen.
• Ambition – Year after year, you have shown us what is possible. That includes the Social Studies teacher who invites us into your school, the mortgage banker who dedicates time during the work day to lead lessons, the entrepreneur who believes in giving back to an entire class of students. That is why we’re pushing to make Milwaukee and Wisconsin teens the most-prepared financially savvy in the nation. It’ll come from a mix of outreach, of partnerships, of legislation. It won’t happen overnight. But I believe we can make drastic leaps for teens across the state within the next five years. You can join this ambitious movement as a volunteer, an education partner or as a supporter. If you’re already involved, we are so grateful to have you as part of this exciting next step. (You can share that excitement by going to Facebook or Twitter and sharing what #SecureFutures means to you.)
• Innovation – We’re gearing up to introduce a new program that’s been in the testing phase for more than a year. Money Path takes cues from the financial planning and investing world in what is taught to teens. And as its backbone, there is a slick budgeting and long-term planning software dashboard students will use. In its creation, we have a powerful partnership with PIEtech from Virginia as well as insight from other national financial literacy leaders. Similar to how lessons evolve in our existing programs, Money Sense and Money Coach, we’re making final adjustments with Money Path before a full launch to teens, teachers and volunteers. I’m excited because I know it will give students new avenues to prepare in ways they like to learn.
• Student success – You will hear more from our students this year than ever before. (They are why we’re all so passionate about this in the first place, right?) It’ll come from verbal stories or sharing in our newsletters, videos and annual report. And it’ll be from students like Ryan, pictured on the left, who will pull at your heartstrings as he has mine when he explains his very human take on finding financial “freedom.”
You’ve been essential to our success since 2006. We will need you as part of an an even greater movement toward guaranteeing every teen has a secure future.
I invite you to share your thoughts on our new name, your ideas for teen empowerment or ways you or someone else might want to be involved. And, for all of the incredible talent, time and treasure you’ve provided for our teens so far, I thank you!
President and CEO, SecureFutures