Howard Stevenson teaches financial literacy to 10-24 year olds through his nonprofit, Project Free University.
INDIANAPOLIS – There is a new kind of school aimed at improving the lives of young Hoosiers and “breaking the cycle” of poverty in the eastern part of Indianapolis.
The emphasis is on preventing financial problems and adopting healthy financial habits.
“I’m trying to build a financially informed community,” said Howard Stevenson.
Stevenson has big plans for its location on Arlington Avenue.
“So here we’re going to do classes. At the back, that’s where we have the breakout classes to talk about banking, debit and credit,” Stevenson said.
He works with more than 50 young people aged 10 to 24 across the city. He teaches them financial literacy through his nonprofit, Project Free University.
“It’s good to start young because it’s better to build up good credit than repair bad credit,” said Stevenson, who founded the program.
It educates young people about career goals, finances and businesses that can help reduce poverty and financial insecurity. He plans to open the door to his new school in January.
“As we grow older, if we take bad habits, especially spending our money on things we don’t need, it comes into adulthood,” Stevenson said.
Learning financial literacy is a privilege that not all young people in the city have at home. This can make it difficult for children to build a strong financial future.
“A lot of kids start out with bad credit because of their parents. Their parents put bills in their name. But they had to make those kinds of decisions because they don’t have financial knowledge,” Stevenson said. .
Stevenson has been guiding Carlton Gray in financial literacy since he was 17.
“My mom didn’t really know it like that. They can’t really talk to me about anything that they don’t know anything about. It’s up to me to learn it now and teach my family,” Gray said.
It’s about breaking the cycle of poverty and building the community they deserve.
“The fact that kids start young encourages parents to want to learn more about finances themselves, because you definitely want to be smarter than a fifth grader,” Stevenson said.
For more information on Project Free University, click here.
Start them young
Children can actually start financial habits from a young age.
A study from the University of Cambridge found that children as young as 3 years old are able to understand money concepts. The financial lessons they learn at age 7 can carry over into the rest of their lives.
While young children may not understand the ins and outs of the stock market or credit reports, Experian suggests starting conversations with your kids about money early to build their confidence instead of worrying about their financial futures.