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mímir: Financial Literacy for Teens - Students Invest in Their Own Future [Updates: Web Platform / Wireframe Prototype 02/25]

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.

  • 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.

a. Do they want to learn about personal finance and investing?
b. Do they want to save for their future?

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 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

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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 Priscilla

Hi Danyelle,
I think this is a great plan on how to ease K-12 students into the financial problems faced with being an 'adult'.
However, I was wondering how you were planning on incentivizing K-12 students into being involved with their finances? May i suggest that perhaps this program would be most welcome by 11-12 graders.
I was also wondering you what incentives you were planning on using for attracting the interest of businesses to be involved with K-12 students? Would this be a social good/service endeavor for them?
Being a college student now, I wish i had this opportunity when I was in high school. Best of luck!

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