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mímir: Financial Literacy for Teens - Students Invest in Their Own Future [Update 02/27]

Imagine a scenario in which youth can invest in their own future while learning about the basics of finance and improving their wealth.

Photo of Danyelle Sage
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Thoughts on approach updated here (newest at bottom). 


Recent trends show that Millennials and Generation Z students are saving less than previous generations due to avoidable student loan and credit debt debt. This same demographic is now also earning income in more unconventional ways such as online resale, affiliate link sales and online surveys which can be completed without being bound by a schedule.


This platform will act as a marketplace that matches student workers with local demand such as design, marketing, influencer opportunities that allow students an easy way to make money on their own terms while not working a traditional job or traditional hours.

  • This learning and marketplace platform promotes financial literacy through informative dashboards tracking students’ earnings. Students can also opt into investing their earnings into simple financial investment vehicles to grow their own wealth.
  • Lessons will be built using game mechanics such as badges, experience points, levels and leaderboards, boost student engagement by allowing students to choose from “quests” and progress at their own pace through a series of educational activities
  • A variety of learning paths are available for students to choose. All quest lines touch on the same learning outcomes but allow students to follow a path that is student driven and passion based.
  • Students will be incentivized to invest their money in their future through financial literacy courses. Whether it's a 529 Plan (college savings) or something else (basic savings), the money will be put towards that. For access to the platform, each student will be required to attend a class (or several) on the basics of personal finance, and will have to continue complete courses to continue the access.
  • Parents are encouraged to monitor their children's investments and financial journey. Parents will have the opportunity incentivize their children's savings by matching a percentage of their earnings or contributing their allowance directly to their child's investments.


  • Financial Literacy and Personal Finance are not required teaching in most high schools.
    • Currently, only 17 states require students to take a personal finance 101-type class, according to the Council for Economic Education
      • Young adults have little understanding how to save, invest and use debt wisely
    • 1 in 4 student loan borrowers are either delinquent or in default
    • The reason why this is a huge problem is because America places almost the entire burden of life's biggest financial decisions on the shoulders of individuals. It starts with whether to go to college and take out a student loan. The average debt load is now $29,000.
  • According to behavioral scientists, people don’t like to take financial advice.
  • Culture can have an impact on the behavior of consumption, saving and investment decision-making of individuals
    • The role of family in making financial decisions varies from culture to culture
      • [As Americans] we still have residue of norms that don’t fit today’s world, like [the assumption that] "women don’t need to deal with finance. That’s what men are for."
    • Differences in religious beliefs can also affect an individual’s use of money, management of financial matters, and financial decisions
    • Attitudes toward financial institutions, including levels of trust, can vary among different demographic groups
    • Attitudes toward money varies depending on the cultural context


  • Start teaching young
    • life-long benefits associated with teaching children good money habits
      • Since very young children are financially dependent on parents, education targeted to this age group generally does not aim to teach financial facts that would immediately change financial behavior. It is generally recognized that children of this age can be taught basic concepts about monetary exchange, financial constraints, and the tools of sharing and purchase that will enable them to earlier and more easily manage later financial challenges and become more independent and financially secure spenders and savers in adulthood
  • Create a financial curriculum that is fueled by autonomy and curiosity
  • Applying insights from behavioral science points us toward concrete solutions. For example, it tells us that:
    • Prompting students to make a plan and set goals can help them follow through on their intention to save money.
    • Changing the knowledge delivery method can lead to more engagement from students of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.
    • Sending simple, well-timed reminders can result in more action-taking.
    • Shortening the feedback loop on a student’s performance can have dramatic impacts on their theoretical and practical decision-making.
    • Changing a student’s perception of what the ‘social norm’ is can lead them to behaving differently
      • Knowing what others do is a stronger influence on how people eventually behave than knowing what society says they should do
  • The financial environment that consumers face today has become dramatically more perilous just in one generation
  • Make applicable resources available to students will set them up for life-long success
    • The U.S. Department of Education requires that each college and university participating in federal student aid programs provide a net price calculator—a tool that helps a visitor to the college’s website move beyond the school’s advertised “sticker price” and receive a more personalized estimate of their costs after grants and scholarships. The Department also requires institutions to publish average net price for first-time, full-time undergraduate students based on income bands.
  • Employ individuals and organizations that work in the financial education field with the following traits:
    • Knowledge of the resources (formal and informal networks, institutions, etc.) available and that a particular group used to enhance their financial well-being
    • Knowledge of the specific culture (education levels, socioeconomic status, traditions, family values, etc.) of the group toward which financial and economic literacy training is being provided
    • Knowledge of each group’s willingness or unwillingness to seek help to enhance their economic financial well-being
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  • Financial Solutions Lab - a community of startups, financial services companies and nonprofit organizations building solutions to improve the financial lives of Americans
  • Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI)
  • Council for Economic Education
  • Gen i Revolution - a free, online personal finance game for high school students that can be played onlineon a tablet device, and via Facebook
  • American Student Assistance - a private nonprofit dedicated to eliminating finance as a barrier to education and the dreams education enables
  • Main Street Philanthropy - targets students in lower-income areas who are unlikely to be exposed to these lessons
  • JA Programs - volunteer-delivered, kindergarten-12th grade programs that foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to teach students (bonus: programs correlate to various national, state, and district educational standards)

Case Study Linked Here


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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

My idea is designed for teenagers and young adults that are faced with the reality of real-world finance. Many young adults leave high school and enter college with zero knowledge of how much their personal finance is affected by the cost of higher education. Many graduates are faced with crippling, sometimes insurmountable, debt and low credit scores with no idea how to overcome issues. We need to ensure our youth makes healthy financial decisions early to avoid hardships in the future.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I would appreciate input & guidance on design, development, and research from the community. All aspects considered, how can this concept be effectively implemented?

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

I'd like to engage with high-schoolers & their parents to see if this product is something that they are interested in utilizing. Students a. Do they want to learn about personal finance and investing? b. Do they want to save for their future? Parents a. How can they support & encourage self-learning? b. Are they willing to offer rewards/incentives for their student’s commitment? c. How involved do they want to be in this aspect of their child’s continuing education?

Tell us about your work experience:

I've worked in design my entire professional life. My expertise lies in brand + web development. My idea for this platform grew from a basic need to self-educate. After making some not-so-smart decisions in my own higher education and personal finance choices (aka learning the hard way) I decided I want to enable & encourage my younger peers to take a savvier approach.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

Think of it as a 'TaskRabbit for teens'. High-school students complete menial tasks in return for a pay out. Access to the platform requires students to learn finance basics and pass simple tests.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

The pervasiveness of financial illiteracy amongst young adults is apparent through the staggering amounts of student (and credit) debt accumulated due to a lack of basic financial education at a young age and in higher education.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

My approach to addressing financial literacy extends beyond traditional lesson planning. It will address the cultural and psychological barriers by offering applicable/relatable content in an accessible manner.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Test a small pool of high-school aged students by offering incentives for their participation in Finance 101 tutorials + passing of quizzes. 1. Educators/Parents & students will sit down to together an set up their own parameters (learning and savings goals) 2. At pivotal stages, the students, parents and educations will access the student's progress. a) Are students meeting their goals? b) How are they performing during tests?

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

My solution will be built platform agnostic so that it is accessible across any browser or mobile device. Similarly, content can be delivered in such a way that it is low bandwidth or can be downloaded/pre-cached.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

Prototyping a platform which connects student (and their parents), educations/finance experts, and those seeking help with everyday tasks in return for compensation. I will need: 1) Students who are interesting in furthering their own education 2) Parents who will enable their child's commitment 3) Businesses or individuals who are willing to solicit help from teenagers 4) Experts who are willing to lend their finance savvy to creating and maintaining an approachable curricum

Attachments (1)


Fantastic case-study done recently by Filene Research Institute (which explores topics critical to the future of consumer finance), focused on the increasing user engagement through clever education content. To sum it up, there is currently no shortage of financial literacy content. The challenge lies in grabbing people's attention and turning it into action (forming healthy behaviors). One trend that stands out is a disconnect between self-accessed literacy, and the actual measured.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Essma

Danyelle, I very much appreciate your idea, especially as a college student who is pretty financially literate herself! I think your idea addresses a serious problem in millennials that impacts our lives significantly, through our over-spending and high debt rates.

The process of this educational program seems very viable, however I can't grasp the incentive system. What would incentivize students to want to become financially literate? You mentioned staggering numbers illustrating the problem of teens' financial illiteracy, however you also noted that behavioral psychologists report that most people don't like consulting with a financial adviser. Let alone that, high school students are also very busy, and don't tend to be eager about school/education. What is it that would incentivize them (and even their parents) to engage in this program, and to consistently follow up with it?

I think the incentive system is a gap in this program because it doesn't appeal to or entice the audience it is targeting. Perhaps it can be tweaked to be more "hip" for high school students. Perhaps it can take on after social media and become a sort of networking/sharing platform that provides a service (taking the frame of Venmo, for instance), as millennials seem to be highly motivated by social networks. It can also have the networking effect where friends bring each other on board, as they play against one another in seeing who is most financially literate. What are your thoughts?

Photo of Chris Mendoza

Hi Essma - we appreciate your kind words and encouragement! We feel that their are many financial goals that can would incentivize students to become financial literate and that these goals will certainly vary by age, demographic and gender. For instance, a teen who just obtained their license may be interested in purchasing a used car - we intend to utilize our dashboard to manage, track and report on how your are tracking towards a particular goal. Similarly, a user can identify a stretch goal and understand what changes in lifestyle or spending would be necessary to tweak to reach that goal.

We mention above that many millennials and Gen-Z are shifting towards working non-traditional hours as well as more "gig" or freelance-like opportunities. We believe that we can incentivize users (both students and parents) through ease of access to valuable information (e.g. your dashboard and where you stand today) as well as having a platform where parents can monitor and ensure that their child is saving and spending appropriately. The parent is a key-user insofar that they will have a responsibility and opportunity to reinforce financial literacy.

We are also certainly considering the social aspect and agree that this is a key to the platform. You will be hardpressed to find a site these days that doesn't have federation to allow users to login via any number of social platforms. As mentioned in a comment below, we believe that our course and accreditation would be more valuable if it were accredited in the real world. One idea was to include course badges and accreditation via LinkedIn to notify potential or future employers of a candidates financial literacy. We have found that financial literacy and an understanding of your finances (as well as goals) is an indicator of critical thinking and sound decision making.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or any follow-up to the items above. Separately, we totally encourage you to share some ideas on what you think would be engaging for teens that we should consider.

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