CGIU discussion focuses on financial education

Sherman Hewitt // Assistant Online Editor

The Clinton Global Initiative University’s “Financial Education: Youth as Economic Citizens” event presented meaningful ways to address financial literacy and illiteracy.

“If we were talking about sex education, it wouldn’t just be about the positions,” said Susan Davis, president and CEO of BRAC USA, and the discussion’s moderator. “We’d also deal with the emotional side. I want you to think about financial education similarly in the fullness of the discussion, and it is personal, political and powerful.”

One action commitment that aims to improve financial literacy involves juniors Shane Blackley, Wes Haertling and Nathan Zimmerman of Illinois College. They manage a stock market club that emphasizes the power of savings and created a way for kids to learn about wise investments. The effort aims to decrease poverty in Central Illinois and surrounding areas.

“They’ve got great ambitions to be able to use their skills in accounting and financing, and maybe take on a little political reform of the state of Illinois,” Davis said.

The discussion’s panel included Tracy Moore II, MindBlown Labs co-founder and director of partnerships; Intuit Director of Design, Leslie Witt; and Marni Lennon, assistant dean for public interest and pro bono lecturer of law at the University of Miami.

Witt believes that financial illiteracy is caused in part by a taboo that surrounds discussing finances.

“Money forces us to remove a mythology about equality,” she said. “If you talk about money, you’re going to have to acknowledge that people have very unbalanced access, radically different starts and radically different safety nets.”

Moore’s company, however, works to make financial discussion and participation easier through a mobile game called “Thrive ‘n’ Shine.” Available on both Google Play and the App Store, the game teaches users financial lessons through in-game avatars and their actions.

“The game is more tangible for folks,” he said. “The premise behind managing your money is that things aren’t going to be the same as they are now, and things that get people into that mindset are critical.”