Nonprofit shares more than their two cents about finances with young people

Talking about money isn’t always easy. Although necessary, financial literacy is not often talked about in homes or classrooms, especially not before college. A local nonprofit, Young Money Finances (YMF), hopes to not only teach, but inspire young people to be in control of their finances.

Founder and Executive Director of Young Money Finances, Dondreá Brown, says the nonprofit originated through his personal experience raising his children. They served as the inspiration and motivation to launch his own nonprofit to teach young people about finances. 

“Growing up, I experienced a lot of situations with my family, and my foster family, where it was hard for parents to manage their money,” Brown says. “Going to college, I struggled to manage my own money as I got into a lot of credit card and student loan debt.”

YMF launched in 2019 and set out to partner with organizations, schools and communities to provide financial education, services and resources, and enable youth ages 10-17 and their families to flourish. “I wanted to create some financial education that was engaging, impactful, but also meaningful for youth in our community,” Brown says. “Our main mission is to empower our youth to take control of their money. We’re really trying to give them an opportunity to be more accountable and responsible when it comes to making healthy decisions about their money.”

In 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, the focus on financial empowerment became even more popular, Brown says. YMF aims to provide programming not typically offered at local schools and organizations including Northview High School, the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, New City Kids and Bridge Street Ministries. LIke YMF’s Young Money Managers series, these low-cost or no-cost programs include workshops and summer camps built on the four pillars — spend, save, share, invest. The Young Money Entrepreneurs series helps students look at entrepreneurship as leadership and examine problem-solving in the community. 

For the Entrepreneurs series, Brown invited young people who are business owners or are working in a family business to share their experiences and what motivates them. One special guest included Taylor Kyle, founder of Eastown Cereal Cafe, who started her business at 17. Brown says that peer-to-peer engagement really impacts the students, who are in the same age bracket as the speakers who are discussing their successful businesses. 

Another offering, their Young Money Investors camp, focuses on teaching students about the process over profit, when it comes to investing. “We’re making our youth more aware of the different approaches for investments and the process to invest,” Brown says. The camp also teaches participants “how to control your emotions through that investing process, what questions you ask, and how you analyze the stock chart.”

Camp attendees have also taken field trips to local credit unions, learned how to interact with bank tellers and utilize budgeting tools and resources.

“One of the outcomes from our camps was for the students to create financial goals, become more comfortable in goal-setting, as well as developing some growth mindset strategies and tips,” Brown says. “During graduation, they presented a financial vision board with their goals on them. We really wanted them to become more comfortable and confident in talking about finances and learning how to identify tools and utilize those for better financial management.”

Brown is looking forward to increasing the current number of seats (20) for students in future camps offered and hopes to secure a central YMF hub or space. For now, he’s happy to be mobile and offer workshops and programming all over Grand Rapids. Future plans also include hosting a financial field day with outdoor games and, eventually, an entire school of experiential learning. 

“One of the things we’re looking to do is make finances cool,” Brown says. “We really want to embrace financial literacy as intellectual prosperity for our community.”

To learn more information about YMF or get involved, you can visit their website. 

Photos courtesy of Young Money Finances 

Sarah briefly lived in Grand Rapids years ago, before moving back to Lansing, but that West Michigan love never really left her heart. Through her coverage on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, and anything mitten-made, she’s committed to convincing any and everyone -- just how great the Great Lakes state is. Sarah received her degrees in Journalism and Professional Communications. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at [email protected]
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