Meet Ryan —
one of the “lucky” teens

The taste was “terrible.” Powdered milk, gritty and watered down, nothing like what Ryan knew should be in his cereal. Real milk was about $2 at the grocery store across the street from his family’s Milwaukee home, but times were tough. Ryan says, “We were poor, and I promised myself I’d never be in that place again. But I didn’t really know how to avoid that.”

Because of his experience in our programs, Ryan considers himself one of the "lucky" teens in our community.

Ryan joined Money Coach in 2015 through one of our community-based financial education partners. In a matter of months, Ryan had opened his checking and savings account, started to track expenses and budget, and put money away for college, which he knew would be "expensive." Ryan said his Money Coach volunteers shared their experiences and gave him the confidence that he could control his financial future. And it was his future that was becoming so much clearer ...

Do you believe that all teens deserve financial capability and confidence before they finish high school? Your support today can fill the gap and reach a generation of students in Milwaukee, across Wisconsin and into Chicago.

After Money Coach, Ryan continued to save. He reached out to his "coaches" a few times along the way for advice and pep talks on putting enough away for college. He also took budgeting and saving tips back home, where the financial problems of his youth had steadied. Still, it was important for his siblings to see how they could start to save and track their money early on, Ryan said.

“Money Coach gave me a lot of that financial knowledge that I would not have had until I made a mistake. I think it’s really important for young people to have guidance before they make mistakes,” he said.

In a year’s time, Ryan had saved $7,000 for college. Then, great news – he received a full-ride to Saint John’s University in Minnesota. He dipped into his savings for a used car – and named it Onika, the birth-name of his favorite pop star, Nicki Minaj – but kept stashing cash for his first semester away from Milwaukee.
Just recently, Ryan sent a message of gratitude to our office. He said he was a little home-sick, but it compelled him to join on-campus clubs and work as a tour guide. “I’m in love with the process of self-discovery,” he wrote in an email.

Your support of financial education is in practice all the time for Ryan, like with many of the 62,000 teens our organization has empowered since 2006. Reflecting on other students who are entering Money Coach and Money Sense for the first time, Ryan wrote: “I’m excited to see the transformative impact SecureFutures will have on the lives of so many young adults in Milwaukee!”

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