An exuberant smile from a first paycheck. A resilient stare as normalcy at home comes unraveled.
Our financial literacy volunteers face teenagers at every step of their maturation, including first jobs and difficult family situations. No two students are the same, but all our volunteers will tell you that the teens they interact with share a common trait: potential.
After a January volunteer training session, we asked two of our most enthusiastic classroom money experts, Lynette Eubanks and Michael Bradburn, to share stories of students that have inspired them recently. Eubanks and Bradburn (pictured at left during a training session group activity) had no shortage of student stories, but said these two stood out.
VP and Commercial Banker, Park Bank
Volunteer for 5 years, including Washington, Reagan and Waukesha West high schools
“There was a student at Reagan (High School) who had been hired to work at a Coca Cola distribution facility on the northwest side of the city. It was his first job, I believe an arrangement the school had with the employer. He was so excited, talking about receiving that first paycheck, about finally opening a bank account.”
“To me, that was powerful. You see people who struggle and use places like check cashing stores early on. Sometimes only when you’re able to save money and have an account do you see how those check cashing and payday loan stores are overwhelmingly not in your favor. To hear a kid who, because of his background, had seen people use payday and check cashing stores, knew that world, and told me he went a different path with his new job and a checking account, that to me is what this program is all about.”
VP – Regional Sales Managing Officer, North Milwaukee State Bank
Volunteer for 2+ years, including Milwaukee Collegiate Academy and New Horizons Charter School
“I’m working with a student now, at (New Horizons) … She doesn’t really live with her mom, but her mom is still a guardian with a controlling factor over her. Last year, we were trying to get her to open a banking account, but her mom wouldn’t let her. This young lady is of age but she’s afraid to open an account. But we need her to be able to open up an account to be able to get her funds or she’ll forfeit.”
“Their beliefs create a barrier for her to open an account and a lot of it is fear. My heart goes out to her. She’s quiet in class, but once we emailed, there was a door that opened. It’s her senior year, she’s with child. I have made a real connection with her. And when we have our sessions with Money Coach … I let her know she could reach out to me for advice. You have to be careful with how you approach these personal situations. You never know what someone’s been through, or what they’re going through. I tread lightly. This young woman has potential.”
-by Justin Kern, marketing and communications manager, Make A Difference – Wisconsin