Nathalia Fernandez promotes financial literacy among Bronx youth


ASSEMBLY MEMBER NATHALIA Fernandez (AD 80), pictured in Norwood on June 8, 2022, would like to see more free financial literacy in schools for young people, to help create more financially stable communities and generations.
Photo by Sile Moloney

Money doesn’t grow on trees, we’ve been told since childhood. At the heart of discussions about the agreed-upon, and now passed, $101 billion city budget for fiscal year 2023 is a familiar annual conundrum — the need to balance the books of government, while trying to satisfy needs and desires of various interest groups seeking to build on a budget allocation received in previous years.

Although the size of the budget and the disparity between inflows and outflows may differ, it is a similar process for every country, company, non-profit organization, institution, small business, single-parent household, or individual. For some time now, Congresswoman Nathalia Fernandez (AD 80) has come to believe that young Bronxites benefit from gaining an early understanding of basic financial literacy.

“People don’t know, you know?” she says. “I’ve noticed myself, aging, seeing young people coming into their adult lives and managing and funding themselves, and the conversation about student debt and debt, in general, comes to life.” April marked Financial Literacy Month and Fernandez said it was an opportunity to really look at what the kids were up to. not be taught.

The congresswoman hosted a workshop in her district with a few organizations, including World of Money, a midtown Manhattan-based nonprofit that for 17 years has been providing immersive financial literacy lessons to children and youth aged 7. at 18, based all over the world. City, including the Bronx, through after-school and summer programs.

Sandra Lamb is the nonprofit’s founder and executive director, and said their approach isn’t just a budgeting workshop. “It’s vast, from the financial history of the world to wealth mindsets, to stock valuation presentations, and so it’s total immersion,” she said, adding that their courses comprised 120 hours. of training.

“The way we see it is that we have to play generational catch-up, because the world we live in demands that we know how to react to money, manage money; it just requires that,” Lamb said. “That’s why we provide all the information kids need so they can start creating a financially secure life.”

Fernandez said that as everyone gets older, they realize they haven’t been saving properly. “We haven’t used the knowledge and the services that exist in the right way, falling prey to predatory financial services that don’t really help communities out of the debt hole,” she said. “There have been proposals over the years in the Legislative Assembly to embed financial literacy in the curriculum, but it has yet to catch on.”

She said lawmakers are looking for ways to make it specifically available to high school students, adding the goal is for high school and college students to understand they can start saving. now. “You can really start preparing for a future that’s a little easier when it comes to your finances, and it’s important to have that foundation of education because it’s going to further close the equity gap that remains in our lives. communities and our society,” she said.

It was asked whether financial literacy was taught in any schools or only in some schools, the congregation said it was barely taught, although some schools made it a priority. She said she remembered being in 3rd grade and learning how to balance a checkbook. “It was really the only flash of a financial education that I can remember from my elementary/high school years,” she said.

“It really came down to the school and I guess the principals themselves said, ‘That’s something we have to offer our school community’.” She said that in the public school system, it’s not mandatory, but when students enter college, there are choices they can take. “We want this option to be available and [the students] educated at an earlier age in high school so that students can better understand their finances.

Fernandez, who as noted is currently running for the state Senate seat in Senate District 34, said conversations about students playing varsity sports now being paid for their skills are also sparking more conversations in the legislature about the need for more financial literacy among young people. “I think we just need to get ahead of the ulterior motive and make that part of the general conversation at an earlier age,” she said.

The MP explained that entities like World of Money are paid by schools to teach financial literacy, although students may also have to register and pay a fee. “If there is financial aid, students can get small scholarships to take these courses,” Fernandez said. “Unfortunately, [there’s] nothing free at the moment to teach you how to be financially literate but that should be the goal is that it is the basic education that we teach our young people.

She added that the lack of local banks, especially in the Bronx, as noted, also impacts young people’s ability to understand personal finance. “Cash-checking is not a bank. Having local banks that can help you with loans, set up savings accounts, is a huge step to just being in the mindset and action to be prudent with your finances,” he said. she stated.

BRONXITE, REBEKAH GIVAN, now 14 years old, is currently a “World of Money Rising Mogul” and has been taking classes on World of Money for 6 years.
Photo courtesy of World of Money

She continued, “At the end of the day, if we can create communities, generations that have become more financially stable, achieve equity, then we are uprooting those who are impoverished and we want to uplift our communities.”

Lamb said World of Money’s annual Youth Financial Education Training Institute operates in June and July each year and the children are with them from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The program is taught by Wall Street professionals who devote part of their time to teaching children. The course is also available virtually to facilitate wider access.

World of Money is funded by corporations, sponsors and parental donations. “We say no one pays [for a class] but everyone contributes to their own financial education,” she said. “As a nonprofit, we are always applying for grants.”

Regarding how the non-profit organization measures its success, Lamb said, “I’m really proud to say, first of all, that World of Money exposes kids to a world they didn’t even know they knew about. not exist, and we attract students from economically diverse households. .”

“Children are very intuitive and very few of them will say to their parents, ‘I want to go learn how to manage my money.’ They love this sauce train! They love it, so they don’t want to stop it,” Lamb said. However, she said that once they understood why their parents wanted them there and the ramifications surrounding money [in life] explained to them and why they need to know about it, they tend to get hooked.

She says they are told that money does not just exist to provide for their wants but also for their needs. “And save? What about investment? What about entrepreneurship? What if you became a philanthropist? she says. “And so when you lay out all of these principles under the world of money, you have the attention of the child,” she added, adding that 99% of their students graduate.

There are three distinct classes: the young moguls, aged 7 to 9; rising bumps, 10-12 years old; and teenage moguls, ages 13-18, to cater to different abilities. “It’s very rigorous,” Lamb said. “They have daily homework, they have one last quick quiz they have to pass, they are monitored in terms of attendance, dress code, all that stuff.”

Rebekah Givan is originally from the Bronx and is currently a “World of Money Rising Mogul”. She started as a “young mogul” and attended the World of Money Institute for the past six years. She is 14 years old. “Over the years, World of Money has changed the way I think about money and manage my money,” Rebekah said. “I used to think money grew on trees (you know what I mean?)…but now I’m asking questions like, ‘How Craft silver?’ As a result we talk about how I can to win money, and I learned how to save and invest my money,” she added.

Most importantly, Rebekah said she enjoyed the experience and made new friends. Plus, she learned about FICO scores for loan applications, how to get better interest rates, prepaid, credit and debit cards, and even some Mandarin Chinese!

Regarding her plans for how she plans to use her financial knowledge, Rebekah concluded, “I am determined to be a philanthropist so I can give back to my community. For someone my age, financial education is important so that we can become independent and take care of ourselves and others.

For more information on World of Money, visit