Getting Hands on with Financial Literacy: Juma and STASH

How many of us make a New Year’s Resolution to learn more about our finances, save more, and manage money more effectively? For a group of Juma youth, January 2023 brought them the tools to do just that.

Funded by one of Juma’s foundation supporters, the 2023 Financial Capability Pilot brought together 63 youth for a 12 week financial experience. The pilot itself was the culmination of months of work done by the Juma team and our partners, Stash 101. Together, the two groups developed eight workshops covering everything from budgeting to investing; stocks to cryptocurrency. 

The workshop series was followed by a 30-day “investment simulator” that provided youth with virtual currency and access to investment information. Each participant had the opportunity to make “investments” in a gamified version of common investment platforms. 

Finally, the pilot culminated in Juma’s first ever “Virtual Reality Fair.” This event brought youth from across Juma’s sites into a Zoom conference where they chose a career and subsequent annual income. They were then faced with a series of common choices we make in managing our personal finances, all with the goal of reaching the end of the month with money to spare. These choices included whether to live with a roommate, own a car, save for a home or invest in retirement. The goal was to spend less than they earned–a relatable journey for young adults.

The event ended with a roundtable discussion, and, judging by the questions young people asked, the workshop content really sunk in! As one young person noted, “I feel like after all these sessions I now have a better sense of how to manage my money more wisely through activities like making investments and budgeting.” 

Other youth indicated they had learned to do without things they once considered necessities. One participant stated, “I have been more mindful of my spending after [the workshops]. I’ve only been buying what I need.” She went on to say that the experience really opened her eyes to the difference between needs and wants. 

Hard data in the form of pre and post tests support the youth’s words. Comparing the pre-test (taken prior to the first workshop) and the post-test (taken at the end of the final workshop), the correct response improved from 65% to 79%. More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that 95% of the participants now have savings accounts. This shift to a “saving mindset” may be the most impactful result of the pilot. Just ask 17-year-old Mariah who says, “I feel since the savings workshop I have cut back on eating out when I don’t need to. If I have groceries at home I just cook something. Or I don’t necessarily need a boba drink. I’ve only been buying what I need lately. I’ve noticed a change. I don’t see my money going down in my bank account!”