How old were you when you got your first credit card? I was 19. If you’re expecting a warning story though, this isn’t it. I never maxed out my credit card. I didn’t make credit purchases that I couldn’t really afford. You see, I was fortunate enough to learn financial restraint and literacy at home and in a consumer education course at school. I know this isn’t the case for everyone though, and that’s why financial literacy is a vital life skill for every young person in Canada. Unfortunately, not all young people have the same opportunities to learn these skills. What then?
Some of you may know that in my other life I’m a social worker. Well, for seven years I worked with homeless and at risk youth in downtown Vancouver. Many young people came to our shelter with zero financial or employability skills, and those needs were tremendous obstacles in their journey to self-sufficiency. How do you get a job when you have no idea how to create a resume, fill out a job application, or dress for a job interview? Even if you do end up getting that job, how do you get ahead without knowing how to budget your paycheck to last for two weeks, how to pay bills, how to save for a rainy day, or how to use credit wisely?
As a Simon Fraser University alum myself, I’m proud to tell you about the Count on Me project going on at SFU right now. This project is near and dear to me, not just because of the SFU link, but because of who the program helps. Count on Me is an Enactus SFU program that seeks to foster both financial literacy and employability skills in disadvantaged youths, empowering them with the tools they need to build their own secure and fulfilling futures. Through this grassroots project, student leaders have directly impacted 41 youth and increased their financial assets by $18,263.
Two trained youth leaders from Enactus SFU facilitate six weekly workshops covering:
- Goal setting and budgeting,
- Resumes and cover letters,
- Banking & saving and credit,
- Income & taxes, and
- Job interviews.
This year, the SFU team presented their Count on Me program during the Capital One Financial Education Challenge, where they were chosen as one of the two winning teams from Western Canada! Capital One has sponsored this challenge for five years in partnership with Enactus Canada, encouraging students from across the country to improve financial literacy in their local communities and beyond. By providing financial education to Canadians, Enactus teams are empowering them to make informed, positive financial decisions that will ultimately improve their quality of life.
What is Enactus?
Enactus is a global organization that uses entrepreneurial action as a catalyst for progress and takes to heart the concepts of social entrepreneurship and the triple bottom-line (social, environmental, and financial). Enactus teams all over the world develop innovative programs that address social, environmental and economic needs in their own communities, in an attempt to improve the livelihoods of others.
Here at home, Enactus Canada showcases the impact of teams across the country through regional and national competitions. Regional competitions took place last month, and as I mentioned, Count on Me was one of the two winners from Western Canada! They’ll be competing to be crowned national champion of the Capital One Financial Education Challenge at the national competition on May 3 in Toronto. I hope you’ll join me in cheering them on!
The beauty of the Capital One Financial Education Challenge and the Enactus program is that not only do they help teach young people financial literacy skills, but the students who participate in planning and delivering Enactus programs are building their own skills too. They’re acquiring business skills, learning to take a global perspective, developing sustainable practices, and becoming the leaders of tomorrow. Talk about a win-win!
Help the Enactus SFU team make their program even better by commenting below:
What’s the most important financial lesson you learned as a young adult just starting to manage your own money? Let me know for a chance to be featured in a future post!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.