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A Grassroots Youth Campaign to Initiate Change – Updated 5/20/15

A youth campaign that taps the power of young people to change the way we think and talk about money.

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Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

Like the voting movement of the previous decade, this idea taps into the power of younger generations to change the conversation around money. By engaging students, ages 18-early twenties, we can start to build energy around the importance of financial education and begin to change the stigma around needing help. By getting the younger generation excited about their financial health, a sort of grassroots army is created. They can achieve financial stability and pass it down the line.

How is your idea specifically using the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources?

The idea is a kind is modeled after the PAC, grassroots movement, "Rock the Vote". It gets young people involved to spread the word and change our social norms. One of the biggest challenges in any education initiative is motivation. By getting young people involved, we tap a very large, very active social network to create a buzz and stir interest in financial education.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

A local campaign can be created in one or more cities, using social media and a University and contacts in the PAC and grassroots sectors. By using the student loan conversation as a hot topic starting point, we can start a Facebook/ Linked In page to measure buzz and reach and hold brain storming events at a couple of universities where we can observe attendance and enthusiasm, while also collecting ideas from students.

What skills, input or guidance might you be seeking from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

How can we get a buzz started? Does anyone have experience with starting a grassroots campaign? Would anyone be willing to initiate a campaign at a University and hold a brainstorming session? What kind of visual and social tools can we use to engage young people?

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

As I was interviewing leadership at Chaco Credit Union, Market Manager, Mitch Vocke mentioned "Rock the Vote" as an example of a successful campaign that got young people motivated and interested in a subject they were previously not engaging with. He made a parallel connection to Financial Education. Motivation and trust are two of the most difficult challenges faced in any education initiative. By tapping into students, we can potentially change the stigma around money-talk, build a generation of financially responsible adults and get people excited to learn how to take control of their financial health.

Update 1#

Based on the excellent feedback from the team, the campaign concept is expanding and taking shape.

I. I've added a quick mock up of a Facebook page (see top). This page could be used as a way of sharing campaign updates, photos, announcing events, posting links, stories and conversations and student ideas.

II. As we build the messaging platform, it's important to get the students involved as soon as possible. I am working on a prototype for a classroom kit that can be downloaded for teachers, and student-led groups to start the discussion rolling and further engage them in the project. The kit will include:

        A) Discussion prompt questions that will help students start a discussion and will         give the campaign insight into how the youth population feels about money, what         they are passionate about, what drives them, who to they admire, etc. This         information can be used to build new initiatives.

        B) A group contest that gives them as chance to stretch their creative legs and         directly contribute to campaign messaging. They can hold a slogan contest amongst         themselves, choose a winner and then submit that idea. The winning ideas will be         posted on the blog and have the possibility of being selected as the official slogan.

        C) A take-home interview kit where the student can audio record an interview         with a parent or other family member to ask questions that prompt financial advice         and story telling. They can submit the stories and select excerpts of the audio files         can be posted to the blog, encouraging public discussion with a personal touch.         (Inspired by Story Corps.)

The other thought that has come up are on-campus events and the use of public art. Large boards could be posted in central campus areas with financial questions that can be written on the board to peak interest and add a personal connection. The boards can be photographed and added to the blog, and/or used as an intro to a campus event. (Inspired by Candy Chang.)

It would also be great to include a database of current links, apps and community classes currently available.

Lots of ideas are blooming here! I'm working to put together mock ups and user scenarios asap. Thanks for your wonderful contributions! 

Update #2 

The initial concept mock ups are posted! Please leave feedback below or comment directly in the google slideshow. 

It would be highly valuable to get feedback on the kit prototype from various classrooms and student community groups. To participate, you can download a copy of the Money Talk Kit prototype here. Upload your results to google docs and leave the link in the comments section below.

I'll be uploading user scenarios tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Update #3

Hi team! I've posted some user scenarios. I'm looking forward to your feedback.

Update #4

The prototype testing is trickling in. I've attached a response from a University student I know. I'll continue to upload data as it comes in. I've also added a rough implementation plan to outline all of the ideas we've had and see how they might fit into a timeline.

Update #5

I've created a short video prototype to communicate a potential user path of a high school student. The video is above.

Update #6

 Hi team! 

I have been doing some further research into planning and strategy for grassroots campaigns, so we can put together a plan for implementation over the course of the next few months. I found an online toolkit that I think could be very informative on –

I also have a request out to someone in my network that specializes in PAC and grassroots campaigning. If anyone has any additional resources or if the reading above sparks any ideas, please share them in the comments section.

In the meantime, I have also reached out to a few community organizations and contacts to find more test groups. Unfortunately, the responses have been slow. Does anyone in the community have any contacts that might be interested in testing the prototype kit?

Does anyone have any feedback to share from a prototype testing session? 

I've listed the links that all of you have posted over the course of the project below, and categorized them according to how they may fit into the developing plan. If you have any further thoughts on this, or would like to add more resources, please let me know!

 Update #7

I've been giving some thought to the potential of this campaign over the next few months and our target age group. While the campaign has the potential to reach a very wide age range over time, for the purposes of initiating the campaign and building momentum, I believe it is in our best interests to focus on a smaller demographic and then expand. My instinct is to focus on older students 17/18+ to start as University students have a more pressing need to improve their financial literacy, have more life experience to understand the benefits, and have a greater capacity for self-motivation. As the concept is grassroots, I think it's important to focus on engaging the most easily motivated crowd first to build that metaphorical army and create self perpetuating energy around the idea. Once older students are engaged, it opens up the potential for informal and formal mentoring of younger students. By focusing our efforts on one age group in the beginning and concentrating our energy on a more specific target, I believe we can get the campaign off the ground and initiate a snowball effect that will expand into younger (and older) age groups. I've listed a link to a study on Financial Literacy and Motivation to our list that discusses some interesting points on this subject. 

That said, with the school year ending. As Bettina pointed out below, it is proving to be a difficult time to engage students. My thought is that the best time for further prototyping will be in the late Summer/ Fall as there is the opportunity to catch the students before class loads become heavy. That's not to say we may not be able to find small groups throughout the summer, but we'll need to think about who and how. Also, it's important that these  groups use the kit and answer the questions, then leave feedback on the experience. We need to be able to examine the experience from multiple angles. 

So, what are your thoughts? Where can we reach University students over the summer? Do you foresee any negative consequences on focusing on a smaller target for the campaign initiation? What Universities can we reach out to for the Fall? 

Update #8 – Measuring Success

I had a very brief email exchange with a campaign specialist, and her first question was: What do you want them to do?

I think there are multiple answers to that, overall, we want them to achieve financial literacy and make good choices. We also want them to talk about it openly without fear of shame or stigma. 

Ways to measure conversation & buzz:

1. Social Media pages (Who is signed up, reading, reposting, liking, what are the comments? etc.)

2. Web site analytics (how many audio recordings are being sent in, how many signed up for blog, how many participants in contests, etc.)

3. Audio recordings (who are they interviewing? are families being engaged?)

Ways to measure impact on financial literacy:

1. Track referrals to local financial literacy programs

2. Partner with other programs and gather information on the results of our referrals (for example, Financial Peace measures money saved and debts many of those dollars are from our referrals?)

3. Anonymous online surveys (For example, we can intermittently collect our member's credit scores, and personal debt, compare them to national averages for our target audience and track progress overtime.)

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.


Campaign Planning & Strategy

Civil Rights Tool Kit

Mountain Goats Software

Possible Partner Resources

Trevor's Library Research

Target User Resources

Junior Achievement Survey

New York Times: Let's Talk Frankly About Sex

Motivation and Financial Literacy

Financial Programs & Apps

Financial Peace

Real Money. Real World.

Society of Grown Ups


Candy Chang, Before I Die

Me/You Health

Play Moolah

Ryan’s Class Videos:


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