30 Aug 2021
When Marcy Reyes inquired about money as a young child, she was told it was none of her business. In the Latino culture, the adults handled the money. The children kept quiet.
The silence led Reyes to many financial mistakes, including overspending, a disregard for savings and credit card debt. It also led her to a career in finance and a mission to educate youth in BIPOC communities about the importance of fiscal responsibility.
Less than 8% of Rhode Island high school students currently receive financial literacy education. Of these students, approximately 90% are white.
Understanding the challenges youth in the BIPOC communities face, in 2017 Reyes founded The Financial Literacy Youth (FLY) Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides culturally responsive financial literacy programming to underserved and underrepresented students.
The overall mission is to empower BIPOC youth with knowledge, skills, and experiences to end generational poverty.
“Students should have access to financial literacy resources regardless of race, ethnicity or socio-economic background. By providing students with the knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively, we are giving them the opportunity of a lifetime of financial well-being to end generational poverty,” said Reyes.
FLY arms students with the tools they need to learn how to become financially responsible. The program’s unique 10-module curriculum includes personal finance, savings, budgeting, managing money, paying for college, investing, setting financial goals and more. By developing financial knowledge skills that will empower youth to become self-sufficient, make good choices and lead to financial wellness and stability – the key to ending generational poverty.
Equip and Engage
“We not only equip them with the tools they need to change their financial and socio-economic future but also bring in parent engagement and experiential learning so when they venture into the world, they are already doing it…it’s second nature. It’s not just conceptual, they are already doing it,” said Reyes.
In three years since the program launched, the FLY Initiative has served more than 700 students in Rhode Island.
“Your class is a class that all schools need,” said a student who completed the FLY Initiative in January 2021. “These are true life lessons that will help bridge the game of opportunity divide.”
With the newly passed legislation in June 2021 that will require Rhode Island public schools to provide financial literacy education by 2022-23 academic year, the importance of financial literacy is now at the forefront of education.
With support from the Papitto Opportunity Connection, FLY will continue to soar and be able to expand its programming and support the hiring, training, and accreditation of its educators. By 2024, FLY expects to serve nearly 7,000 BIPOC students in Rhode Island.
“Financial literacy is the key to a successful future,” said Reyes. “Financial literacy will empower RI BIPOC individuals with knowledge, skills and resources needed to end generational poverty. Having access to educational and professional financial resources will result in opportunities that wouldn’t typically be offered to BIPOC Individuals.”