The First Star Greater Washington held its second monthly meeting of the 2015-2016 academic year at the Wells Fargo Bank Navy Yard Branch on Saturday, October 24th. FSGWA was grateful that Wells Fargo opened the bank on Saturday just for us. Together with Wells Fargo and the Sara Start Fund we presented a one of a kind Financial Literacy workshop that was engaging and helpful to our youth by focusing on everyday spending.

Students arrived between 9:30 and 10 am, despite a glitch in Google Maps directions, and enjoyed a breakfast of bananas, breakfast bars, orange juice and apple juice. As everyone settled in and waited for everyone to arrive, our Deloitte volunteers and Mentors checked in with the students. Many students discussed Homecoming and academics since it was just two weeks from the end of 1st Quarter in school.

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Each student received a drawstring sports pack from Wells Fargo. In it was a phone stand/speaker amplifier, a pen that doubled as a stylist, and a Budget Toolkit. The toolkit included a folder that had a sample outline for a monthly budget, a one page breakdown of a young professional’s finances, a print out of the entire PowerPoint slide show, a financial goal setting worksheet, a needs vs. wants sheet, and wallet cards with basic financial information to keep as reminders out shopping. We began activities at 10 am.

Students listened as one of the Fells Fargo Facilitators spoke about banking in general and why it is important to have a bank account, how online banking works and the benefits to having a relationship with a bank. Students practiced hand writing checks, some for the first time, and asked questions about daily bank operations before they looked at budgets, financial goals and their own needs and wants.

As the workshop continued, Lindsay from the Sara Start Fund presented a fabulous example of a hypothetical young professional’s, Angie, life. A realistic starting job as a receptionist with a job description, approximate salary range, and normal expenses. Our youth then took all of the information about Angie and filled in a monthly budget using the worksheet. Many were shocked to see how much rent was, how quickly bills add up, and how hard it is to live on a salary of $21,000 in the Washington DC area.

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Afterwards, students spent time filling in a two column worksheet where they could determine their individual needs and wants, then start to create a personal budget based on their own income, expenses and wants. They also looked at long term financial goals like buying a laptop for school, how to break down the total amount to put monthly into a savings account and action plans to spend smartly.

We ended the work shop with an engaging discussion about credit and interest rates. The youth were very interested to learn what credit was, how it worked and why they needed it. They also heard from some former foster youth who are now in the early stages of their own careers talk about the struggles they had managing a budget and how they wish someone would have taught them the basics of finances before they were out on their own.

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To reward the youth for a long morning of crunching numbers, the Sara Start Fund provided a surprise visit from the ice cream truck, Captain Cookie and the Milkman, on our way to the CFSA building for lunch and afternoon activities. We all enjoyed the sweet treat but didn’t let it spoil our Subway lunch. As students finished lunch they broke into small groups to review vocabulary and do some studying before the monthly quiz.

Students ended the day by celebrating birthdays with cupcakes and talking about their Halloween plans prior to pick up by parents, social workers, and guardians.

For our seniors FSGWA is starting the big push towards higher education. We plan to review applications, scholarships, and best fits for each youth. I look forward to seeing everyone again November 7th for a Modern Art Workshop hosted by the Sara Start Fund at the Phillips Collection.

A big thank you to Lindsay from Sara Start Fund and Wells Fargo.

With warmth and compassion,

Brian Ritchey
Program Director