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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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WORKING PROTOTYPE (IN PROGRESS)


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Thoughts on approach updated here (newest at bottom). 


OPPORTUNITY STATEMENT

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.


STUDENT INVESTING PLATFORM

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.


THE CONTEXT:

  • 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


THE SOLUTIONS:

  • 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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HOW IT WORKS:

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(POTENTIAL) CONTENDERS:


POTENTIAL PARTNERS:

  • 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

WORKING PROTOTYPE:

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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)

395a_IAMTSlides.pdf

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.

70 comments

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Photo of Essma
Team

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
Team

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.

Photo of Adrien
Team

Hello,
I am really impressed with your idea. I too believe it is crucial for students to garner the necessary tools to manage their money and to avoid the common pitfalls many people fall into. The integration of technology has gained serious traction over the past decade, and using similar tools specifically for a younger demographic seems particularly relevant. I have complete trust in your idea but my only queries surround the actual product. I feel like your success will be contingent on the quality of your curriculum. It will not only need to be thorough and insightful into the world of financial planning, but it will also need to be extremely engaging. Finance is not a traditional academic area for secondary education and students of younger ages are generally disinterested in the subject matter; therefore, I would specifically focus on the "games and tutorials" in order to make them as interactive and interesting as possible. Unless your service becomes mandatory in high schools, I believe it will be difficult for you to garner a solid customer base without 'fun' tasks. If you are able to achieve this, and make the platform relevant to the new generation, then I believe you will have created a truly great learning tool.

Photo of Chris Mendoza
Team

Hi Adrien - thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words! You've added a bright spot to our day and have helped motivate us further!

The course/chapter curriculum is a foundational element to this platform and is certainly a key to our success as well as our differentiating factor. Compelling and engaging content will need to encourage users to continue their journey and influence others to join as well.

Please share any ideas or concepts you think we should consider to up the "fun factor"! An interesting thing you're alluding to is that simple financial concepts can be taught in an engaging way without actually calling out that you're learning "finance".

Photo of Afrin Bhuiyan
Team

Hi,

As a finance student, I think it's critical that students learn financial literacy at a young age, especially considering the fact that we deal with finances on an everyday basis. Individuals often gain financial literacy through trial and error, and teaching that in the classroom can allow for a seamless transition into real world applications. It seems like you've done your research with respect to the demand for this service and the potential real world partners that would help to implement them. I think the ability to invest earnings within the platform is an especially innovative concept, as it will differentiate the platform and allow it to be a one stop shop for students. In terms of the content, how do you plan to create a curriculum and invest in research and development to grow out the platform? The value of the service will undoubtedly be rooted in the quality of learning that it offers and I think that's an essential component to scaling this service.

Photo of Chris Mendoza
Team

Hi Afrin Bhuiyan  - thanks for your comments and feedback.

We're currently investigating previous suggestions like Khan Academy or Coursera, however, we feel it's important to have subject matter experts in house. We will have to leverage and refine existing course materials to fit our particular use case. More to come on this.

We live in a very user-focused environment. In terms of deciding how to invest in research and development, we're eager to go into user testing phases to understand what works, what doesn't and where to correct course.

Photo of Kaitlyn
Team

Hi Danyelle,

I think educating students earlier on about financial literacy is a great idea. Having this knowledge is especially important during this time where the average bachelor-degree holder takes 21 years to pay off his or her loans. Student debt is significant and poses many long term concerns in terms of college choices and money management. Because of this situation, it is imperative that students get educated about these financial manners and develop a sense of financial responsibility and awareness earlier on to put themselves in a better position when the crucial time comes.

I especially like the gaming aspect of teaching finance to appeal to younger people. I recommend creating a realistic online community in which children can interact with peers to better simulate real life circumstances and create a more fun, engaging, social experience.

Photo of Kaiying Chen
Team

Hi Danielle,

I think you've done some fantastic research for the context and have matched your objectives for mimir aptly. One of the most common arguments that I hear from younger people these days is that nothing they learn in high school is relevant, and that a lot of classes don't prepare people for the real world. Most of this is untrue, but I do think that mimir fills a huge void in teaching teenagers and young adults essential skills needed to manage their own finances.

I think the badge and rewards system go hand-in-hand in encouraging students to be active on mimir, but what kind of tasks would students be completing to make money? Would this platform be similar to Amazon Mechanical Turk in the way it allows students to complete simple or complex tasks for varying amounts of compensation? I'm just curious about how complex the tasks that a freshman in high school would be able to complete for compensation. I'm also wondering where you would receive the capital to hire financial experts.

Photo of Dominique Nguyen
Team

Hi,

This is a very relevant idea. I often hear students complaining that they learn (what they deem to be) useless information in school, but don't even know how to accomplish real-world tasks, such as completing their taxes, or understanding how a mortgage works. Regardless of career path, almost everyone will one day need to consider their taxes and deal with huge amounts of finance-related problems. Financial literacy is something that would greatly benefit people of all ages, but especially younger people, so that they are able to form good habits before they enter the workforce.

I have a few questions, though. The description says that "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." What kinds of financial tasks would this involve? Additionally, although students would be required to complete courses in order to purchase some simple financial instruments, what would happen in the scenario by which the student investor loses money from their investment? Lastly, I want to ask if your app's badges could translate into some sort of credential in the real world, that these students can add to their resumes or leverage during their career search.

Photo of Chris Mendoza
Team

Hi Dominique Nguyen - thank you for your comments and also validating what we believe very strongly in.

I've addressed your questions in-line below:
Dominique Nguyen : What kinds of financial tasks would this involve?
Chris Mendoza : The opportunities to earn will certainly involve financial institutions as well as other industries and disciplines (e.g. design, finance, accounting, etc.). These tasks can include but are not limited to filling out surveys, working on branding material, etc. The financial literacy curriculum is separate where parents could utilize ways (e.g. monetary incentives) to encourage saving and reinforce chapter curriculum.

Dominique Nguyen : Additionally, although students would be required to complete courses in order to purchase some simple financial instruments, what would happen in the scenario by which the student investor loses money from their investment?
Chris Mendoza : In the early beta stages, we will likely have to simulate savings and investment principles to demonstrate financial concepts. Similarly, parents and student users could opt to utilize the dashboard to manage and monitor earnings and savings aside from financial vehicles.

In the future when a student user has the opportunity to research and invest in specific investment vehicles, there is definitely a chance that one may experience losses. These types of instances are teachable moments that we intend to empower both the parent and the student. More to come!

Dominique Nguyen : Lastly, I want to ask if your app's badges could translate into some sort of credential in the real world, that these students can add to their resumes or leverage during their career search.
Chris Mendoza : This is a wonderful idea that could certainly set students up for success as they begin to transition into their professional careers. We haven't fully developed this idea yet though one idea is to partner with a platform like LinkedIn so that badges or accreditation can be communicated to future employers in one accessible place.

Please do not hesitate to follow-up if you have absolutely any other additional questions or if anything above is unclear.

Best regards,

Chris

Photo of Joon
Team

Hi Danyelle,
I love the idea of introducing financial literacy to a younger demographic. Throughout my years in both public and private schools, I never had the opportunity to learn about financial concepts or real-life financing. Even as an undergraduate student at a business school, I don’t feel that I am fully prepared taking care of my finances, i.e. filing taxes.

You mentioned in your working prototype for the curriculum that groups may not necessarily be bracketed by age. As students of ages 8 through 18 have a rather large diversity of education and knowledge background, I was wondering if it would be challenging to explain various financial concepts that needed certain background knowledge?

Also, what do you think are the advantages of having students perform tasks versus adults? One of your possible competitions listed was TaskRabbit, so I was wondering, in the perspective of the task-poster, what kinds of tasks might be better suited for students to complete rather than adults?

Lastly, I saw it mentioned once, but I think including taxes in the curriculum would be incredibly helpful, as many of my peers, myself included, learn filing taxes the “hard way,” like you did. Thank you!

Photo of Danyelle Sage
Team

Hi Joon 

Teaching students about how taxes work and how to file them properly is so important; we will definitely be including that in the curriculum.

In theory, students will begin using this platform around age 8 (after they have acquired basic reading and writing skills). I realize that there are a lot of older students who have yet to learn basic finance, so any stage of the platform will be available to a student of any age. It's more important that they have a strong foundation as opposed to placing them where we think they should be.

To answer your questions, the advantage of having students workers versus adult workers really depends on the types of tasks being posted. Ideally, the tasks would be suited to the former. Simple, easy to perform, flexible in nature. Some examples: babysitting, delivering newspaper, horticultural or agricultural work, shop, hairdressers, office, car wash, restaurant or cafe, riding stables, hotel domestic work, etc.

Photo of Julia Milch
Team

Hi Danyelle,
Great idea! I completely agree that this is an area we need to focus on in education. One factor that I, myself, struggle with when trying to improve my financial literacy is the dryness of the content. To facilitate continued user engagement I'd think about ways to make it accessible to high school kids. Are there ways to gamify the learning experience? Can they access through a gaming console like Xbox or PlayStation? Can we surface the content through a subject they're already interested in - like a sports or a film example? For ex: when setting up the app you choose from a variety of themes and then your lessons are provided in the context of that subject, using real-world examples. This can bring a sense of storytelling to the experience to keep users interested and coming back.

Photo of Danyelle Sage
Team

Hi Julia Milch 

This is one of my biggest obstacles to overcome. Finance is boring. I'd like to make the material interesting and relatable, and the process experiential. I think taking a "hands on" approach to introducing (experiencing) the information will be way more engaging than simply presenting the ideas and hoping they stick.
I've seen some great examples of "gamified" financial learning that already exists and I think there is room for collaboration there.

I love your suggestion to introduce a storytelling aspect - I've thought about this a bit and am brainstorming ways to integrate case studies and create shared learning experiences (tutoring, for example).

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

I wonder if the ideator behind this idea might have some insight on the use of gamification - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/future-of-highered/ideas/game-plan-2020

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi all.
I wonder if the Task Rabbit aspect and learning could be integrated on the platform, using gaming? Maybe the learner would access work opportunities each time they get onto the platform by playing a few games or passing through levels first?

Will there be a way for people to post local work opportunities in the community?
Ex) Dog walking for someone in the neighborhood
If there are local work opportunities I wonder if local businesses might get involved as sponsors offering to match earnings up to a certain dollar number to be donated to a college savings account?

I wanted to share this article which supports your idea and goal here.
http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/09/09/why-teen-savers-have-more-financial-success-later-in-life

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Team.
Have you had any opportunities to discuss the idea with teenagers to get feedback on what might motivate them to participate?

Photo of Danyelle Sage
Team

Hi Bettina Fliegel Great question!

We haven't had enough development with the platform itself (the idea was still evolving up until a few weeks ago thanks to all the great feedback and suggestions!) to feel confident in reaching out for user feedback at this stage. After we finalize the platform and content, it's the next logical step. We have conducted preliminary research in motivation techniques, and we noticed some key elements.

How will we motivate students?
1. Empathize + build trust (we value the student's opinion and thoughts)
2. Offer useful + descriptive feedback (offering feedback and a chance for re-dos, and time for self-assessment)
3. Create compelling lessons (not limiting the content delivery to traditional methods)
4. Content that sparks curiosity (interesting story-telling)

With these taken into consideration, we've begun developing a platform that provides custom content and a shorter feedback loop, allowing us to make infrastructure improvements as we go. I

Photo of Natasha Rajiv
Team

Hi Danyelle,
As a sophomore in college, I believe that your idea will be really beneficial to students across the world, and I am excited to hopefully use it sometime soon!

I think that in addition to the financial literacy aspect that your solution proposes, it would also be extremely useful to include a section on the platform about taxation which would go over the basics of how income taxes work, as well as how to file taxes. Speaking from personal experience, I believe that is an important skill to learn especially as students go into the working world, and getting a headstart on this will be of great value to them.

I had a question for you: how will you encourage younger students, who don't really see the value in financial literacy to join and actively participate on the platform?

Photo of Danyelle Sage
Team

Hi Natasha Rajiv 

In regards to engaging younger students, the approach is less about convincing them that financial literacy will benefit them (this is something they will pick up inherently through learning), and more about simply getting them to engage. The journey for younger users will be heavily gamified.

Photo of Quincy KK
Team

Hi Danyelle, I think this is a great idea. I believe there's a huge disconnect between the incredible cost of college today, and the lack of educational resources to help students know where they stand financially and how they can succeed! Personal finance is a scary and intimidating subject, but I think it's imperative to teach it, and to do it in a relatable and accessible way. In many ways, mímir reminds me of a company called NextGenVest (https://www.nextgenvest.com/). By no means are they the same, but they are similar in their mission.

I feel like companies could be apprehensive outsourcing tasks to teenagers that they don't know. Do you see this as a challenge for mímir? If so, how do you plan on combatting it?

Photo of Chris Mendoza
Team

Hi Quincy - thanks for your thoughtful response!

Many teenagers and adolescents today are taught the importance of their online persona and how it can reflect on their rapport in real life. There is certainly an important lesson that can be communicated between a prospective business opportunity to earn and a candidate as to why they're not chosen. While not everyone will be able to attain the same opportunity, a student will be able to correct course earlier as opposed to the typical "radio silence" after applying.

Photo of Priscilla
Team

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!

Photo of Chris Mendoza
Team

Hi Priscilla - thanks for your inquiry and feedback. We certainly think that this program would resonate best with young adults faced who have actual opportunities to earn and save. However, we also feel that basic financial concepts including bartering, selling, and saving can be taught at a young age.

Businesses can be incentivized by attracting and having access to key demographics directly through social media and other affiliate-based structures. Businesses will certainly be encouraged to offer opportunities for a social good though we feel that the relationships can be mutually beneficial.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Danyelle and team,

There are a few hours left in the refinement phase if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.

Photo of Angelis
Team

Now a semester away from graduating college, I wish I had this app in high school. The idea that I could have been saving towards my tuition as a freshman in high school is great. This is such a needed tool!

Photo of Chris Mendoza
Team

Hi Angelis - thank you so much for your feedback and kind words! This validation is what motivates us to bring this to market as soon as we can!

Photo of Rosalyn Lin
Team

Hi Danyelle,

I think this is a really great idea! As a college student about to graduate, I definitely would have appreciated something to teach me the basics of budgeting, loans, mortgages, credit, 401(k)s, etc. I have just a few questions:
1) At what age do you think K-12 students would have enough general financial background to get started on this platform? Or would there be different "levels" of education for different age levels to tailor the content to specific knowledge levels?
2) Would the platform have students engaging in activities with their own money? Or would it be mostly just learning conceptually through theoretical scenarios and fake money?
3) Do you plan to somehow monetize this app or website, and if so, how?

Photo of Chris Mendoza
Team

Hi Rosalyn Lin - thanks for the feedback and great questions! Find our responses in-line with your questions below:

1) At what age do you think K-12 students would have enough general financial background to get started on this platform? Or would there be different "levels" of education for different age levels to tailor the content to specific knowledge levels?
We believe that basic financial concepts such as saving, earning and exchanging can begin at an early age. There would certainly need to be different curriculum based on the audience and this would likely be segregated by age as well as other demographic parameters for targeted messaging that is more impactful and relatable.

2) Would the platform have students engaging in activities with their own money? Or would it be mostly just learning conceptually through theoretical scenarios and fake money?
What better way to learn than to simulate your own (or your ideal) financial situation? While we fully intend to have content solely around the concepts of financial well-being, we believe that illustrating projections and simulations of your own financial journey will be compelling enough to get users to actually act.

3) Do you plan to somehow monetize this app or website, and if so, how?
There are some preliminary ideas on monetization in the images at the top of the post. However, we believe that the socioeconomic value of having this widely adopted is intangible and can be life-changing. This is what motivates us to bring this to market as soon as possible.

Photo of Yash
Team

Hi Danyelle,

I am about to graduate from college and have only recently discovered the power of personal finance. I really wish that someone would have told me about the benefits of saving, investing and compounding early into my teenage years so that I would have developed the disciplined habits of saving and investing. One suggestion that I had for this platform is to develop a simulated investment portal where users could learn about the market and sound investment techniques. It could help users to understand the key concepts of portfolio management and how to look out for financial news. I believe that this will not only allow users to gain an invaluable skillset but also enable them to visualize the long benefits of the habits that they are fostering. It may be very helpful in keeping teenagers interested and engaged in their future.

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Hi Yash - thanks for your feedback and suggestion. As the proverb goes - “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Though our intentions are to target financial literacy at a young age and to emphasize the value in saving and investing early - we also understand that the pillars of basic financial literacy are important regardless of age or where you are in your financial journey.

Simulations to understand how you can achieve your financial goals with a few tweaks to your habits are exactly in line with what we think can enforce basic financial literacy. By allowing users to project or simulate their investments - we can illustrate how one can achieve seemingly unattainable financial goals by adjusting their spending while considering particular investments or saving options.

It's important that you mention "long benefits". Investing for the long-term and establishing good habits early is key. This all begins with basic financial literacy. We'll be looking to users for help and advice on how to get the youth actively engaged in their future in a meaningful way.

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As a social worker, I often think about how many of the people I see whose lives could be changed by financial literacy. Yes, often the problems are not caused by poor financial management, but a true lack of resources. However, I'd say equally as often it the lack of opportunity for free and unbiased Financial training and advise. Check out Financial Socialwork. I believe it's a fairly new field. I've begun exploring it recently.

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Hi Melissa Middleton - thanks for your suggestion! You've hit the nail on the head. Lack of resources, a support structure and line of sight into one's current financial wellbeing is a recipe for disaster that can quickly spiral into a situation like bankruptcy.

Similarly, as regulations like the recent Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule are reviewed during this current administration instead of implemented - we cannot be certain of the availability of truly trustworthy institutions to act in an investor's best interest.

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Hi Danyelle,
I hope you are having a nice day. I am struggling to read the information on the post it notes. Is there any chance you can take a close up photo of the notes?

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Hi Kate Rushton 

I will repost the post-its in a more legible format tonight - I threw them up to show my progress / to hold myself accountable as I wade through the refinement process.

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Thank you, Danyelle - I can read it! :-)

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Hi Danyelle,

There is just a week left of refinement. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

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Hi Danyelle Sage --this is such a great idea! I wish I had this type of platform when I was in school. I'm not 100% sure I have learned everything I need to know in this space, still, and probably could benefit from it in post-grad, actually :).

Just a few questions/comments:
* How will you create content? Do you have a sample course outline you can share with the community? As an instructional designer, before even getting to the course development, I have to consider my subject matter experts first. Who are the subject matter experts and who is curating their content? When I went to your prototype, I really enjoyed reading that you found out what you needed to know on your own. What was your learning? What did you find of value and how can you add your lens of expertise to each course to make it unique?
* Parents play a big role in this experience. What about those whose parents aren't as involved in students' education? There's quite a bit of research about parent's social economic status and how it correlates to students' educational outcomes. It would be interesting to me to see how your tool works for students who have no guidance from parents, versus those who do (i.e., because this tool could help bridge that gap).
* What will happen to the student after graduating? Is there a way to continue to engage with your tool?

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Hi Danyelle Sage ! Great idea. Financial literacy is certainly lacking for many Americans and there needs to be a national effort to start embedding it into school curricula early on, especially since the research tells us that literacy training doesn't have as much of an effect on behavior change once we reach adulthood. I love that you are considering a behavioral economics approach! While I think many policy advocates in the financial inclusion space are hopeful that this will become nationally mandated, school-based initiative, I think that innovators such as yourself will help accelerate and complement what is offered in schools.

For your list of partners, you may also want to look into this behavioral economics research organization:
http://advanced-hindsight.com/commoncents-lab/
Another early stage startup in financial literacy, which could allow some opportunity for content collaboration: http://www.dollarsed.com/
Finally, you may want to take a look at the work that MoneyThink is doing:
http://moneythink.org/our-technology/

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Hi Danyelle,
Terrific idea! There is absolutely a need to educate students and help them achieve financial literacy.
Just wanted to build off Julia Milch's idea of gamifying and building narrative. I see a couple opportunities where this could be helpful:
1) Enticing students to save vs. spend their earnings.
The pull towards immediate gratification is strong in everyone, young and old. While adults have the 20/20 hindsight and know it's smart to save, the 1st hurdle for younger students may be the desire to have the sense of reward that comes from spending money after you earn it.
Perhaps the saving process could be injected with a sense of fun and reward, through sounds, icons, badges, and a progressing narrative that ties to the student's theme of choice. This way, they feel the sense of pride, progress, and excitement that people often seek from spending money.
2) Making the learning process fun
Students have a lot on their plate as we all know - grades, studying, friends, and in this case earning side money as well. Lots of sources for stress, so how do we make this learning fun? And perhaps even communal? Perhaps there is the ability to make communal gaming, so they loop in friends? This might also help drive the desire to move forward in the "narrative". I haven't played the Sims online, but from my understanding, obtaining skill points was key to the game. Perhaps in this world, skills are acquired through lessons etc.
Just a brian storm - I'm new to all of this. Good luck!

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Thank you Kate Rushton !

Danyelle - Excellent work and idea! I think there is definitely a need for something like this, I often think we focus on STEM education, but sometimes the very basic life skills are missing. Managing your finances and figuring out how ends meet definitely fall into this category!

A few things to consider:
- might want to start the app early, for ex. provide allowance for doing homework, house chores and then eventually graduate to the task rabbit for teens version. Mainly because it is a lot easier to build habits earlier on in life.
- Have you consider connecting this social impact to other social impact? For examples, helping elders/seniors? Perhaps you can tap into programs whereby you can link up Youth spending time with Seniors as a way of earning allowance/doing chores. There is a lot of mutual benefits in this model - in terms of mentorship and social benefit for youth and seniors.
- Another potential collaborator is Junior Achievement - a nonprofit that focuses on financial literacy
- There is actually a TON of budget around financial education, and sadly impact results show very little impact. (http://www.nefe.org/Portals/0/WhatWeProvide/PrimaryResearch/PDF/CU%20Final%20Report.pdf)
However, I think it is not that education is not important, it is education needs to be different, it needs to create financial habits, as opposed to information. I often think of it as more like life skills as opposed to learning science.
- I have ran some focus groups and survey work around money and people's perception around money. Such a majority of the research shows it starts from someone they learn about money values from - so I think you are definitely onto something in terms of trying to scale this.

I am happy to be an advisor to provide feedback on your idea! Sadly at the moment, a bit tapped out to offer to be a full collaborator! Feel free to connect on LinkedIn, if that would be helpful.

Good luck!
Wingee

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Hi Wingee Sin 

I really like your suggestion for integrating a 'work for chores' option in lieu of the tasks for younger users. How young would you suggest?

All of these suggestions are SO helpful. I'm thinking of ways the younger/older students could team up (sort of like tutoring), and how parents/families can take be more proactive.

Elders/disabled individuals who need help performing tasks is an interesting approach. I wonder if there is a way to relate the task back to the learning content so that it becomes a holistic experiential learning platform.

Can you provide any insights into what educational content I should think to include outside of the "earning/saving/investing" realm? The financial environment is extremely complex (as I'm sure you know), how simple or how complex should the ideas presented be?

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If you have a quick moment Wingee Sin , I am wondering if you would have a look at Mimir, especially the user experience. I think your knowledge of the financial advisory sector would be invaluable here.

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Hi Danyelle,

Interesting idea and I echo Kate's questions on possible online delivery. Her examples of delivery platforms such as Khan Academy could very well be valid ones.

The next challenge would be how to expand the program to work in rural or low-income areas with limited employment opportunities.  Partners for Education at Berea College, for example, works with students in several  Appalachian Counties where the school system is the largest employers, there is no mass transit and only 3 -5 restaurants (diners or fast food) in the entire county.

I strongly agree that students need to know more about personal finance and take on some personal accountability and would like to see the opportunities expanded beyond an urban or higher population setting. 

A good source of data is the Kids Count by the Annie M Casey Foundation http://datacenter.kidscount.org/about/state-providers/details/18-kentucky-youth-advocates and www.youth.gov is a good resource for information on youth employment, however, occasional babysitting or mowing a yard for $10 may be the only reachable possibilities for many more isolated communities

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Terry, what is access to wifi like in these areas in terms of speed and how many students have wifi at home?

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Kate,

It varies widely. Although most, if not all, school buildings are now wired for broadband and may have wireless access within the building, the networks are restricted and not publicly accessible.  Public Wi-Fi access is scarce or must be used under a phone data plan - not always available or 'minute quota limited' for low-income families. We have one mid-sized mountain high school with no cell signal inside their building due to where they sit in the surrounding mountains.

The question 'do you have access to internet/Wi-Fi?' is misleading as over 90% of families have some access at some point in some way - even if it is only at school during the school term.  In their home or on more than a phone plan may be an entirely different story.  Internet access plans can run as low as $15-25 per month IF bundled with other options such as cable or satellite tv and/or phones (for additional fees). In Appalachia, I would feel safe in stating 50% of homes have internet with well-over half of that being hi-speed broadband.

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Hi Terry Hosler 

Mobile and online platforms will be the main delivery structure for the courses and information. I would love for this product to be accessible to teens of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

To tackle the issue of isolated/rural communities, maybe some of the tasks are done completely remotely. Perhaps I can bring in larger task-posters to "sponsor" groups of students in these limited-access communities?

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Hey danielle !
In México there is this device that keep internet information like Wikipedia and other places of research where students with not internet access could look for.The device it's called kambaal

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Darcet Preciat This device is AMAZING and would be so instrumental in reaching these inaccessible/remote areas. Access to the materials and information without internet is a definite must.

I would also love to have the tasks on the marketplace appear in real-time. Perhaps I could implement some sort of scheduling plug-in to allow users to pre-arrange.

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Hi Danyelle, I couldn't feel more confident in the value of this idea. As a finance and economics professional, I would suggest that 'thinking bigger' is the key here.

Finance and economics are taught to older students because they are thought of as complex concepts. I believe that the concepts are actually very basic, but the context can be quite complex. If you identify the concepts and then find a way to present them in a simple context, you can start preparing the next generation of adults to better understand the role finance plays in their lives, help them make better decisions, and take control of their financial security.

For example, economics might seem daunting and uninteresting when you talk about scarcity of resources and opportunity cost. But, if you develop an interactive game that early-years students can play that makes them choose between having two apples or three bananas, or a few hours playing outside and a few hours reading, how do they choose to allocate their time and accessible goods in their behaviours. What about one banana now, or three bananas tomorrow?

You can see through this simple (and very much off-the-cuff example) that starting at a level relevant to young children, you could have every student that graduates high school leave with a robust understanding of supply and demand, the value of doing something today versus doing it tomorrow, the time-value of money, the value of exponential returns, the difference and appropriateness of fixed/variable loans or repayment or interest-only loans, etc.

Finance is just about making choices with your money and understanding them. Economics is just about how we can create communities where people are able to create an enjoyable life for themselves and their families. A community that supports those that need it most and no one feels left behind or unfairly treated. It's a shame these core concepts are completely missed because of the 'sophistication' the education system has infused in these subjects, making them accessible only to intellectual and academic elites.

My mum is a career teacher of early-years students. Her expertise is in curriculum. She and I have discussed many times my ideas to reshape education, particularly focusing on preparing students to understand the basic ideas within economics and finance at a very young age.

I believe the multiplier effect of this service would be enormous in its generational benefits.

Best of luck, and please let me know if I can help.

Kindly
Anthony

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Hi Anthony Caneva 

Thank you very much for your input. I agree wholeheartedly with the implications of the "multiplier effect". The earlier we start, the bigger impact we could see.

My hesitation with widening my user demographic to children under 13 is that the idea for the platform will get lost. My original idea was billed as a "TaskRabbit for teens". If you're not familiar, TaskRabbit "is an online and mobile marketplace that matches freelance labor with local demand, allowing consumers to find immediate help with everyday tasks". The point being that teenagers can (safely) earn money (not all children receive an allowance or have access to part-time work, say, at a fast food chain), while simultaneously learning the values of "earning, saving, and investing".

If my initial idea sees success, I will definitely explore your suggestion as a way of expanding on the overall idea (and value) of financial literacy for all.

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Welcome to the Refinement phase Danyelle! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 02/01" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

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Hi Danyelle,

I hope you are having a nice day.

There is an idea in another OpenIDEO challenge on financing higher education that might interest you ‘EdCreds: A New Currency for College’ - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/top-ideas/edcreds-a-new-currency-for-college

This idea - EdCreds - is that ‘students of all ages build financial credits for the cost of tuition by participating in qualified educational extracurricular activities’. It has a really clear user journey and I can see a connection between this idea and yours.

I would recommend really digging down into what is the problem, how is this solution and think about what the competitors are to demonstrate that this a ‘need to have’ and not a ‘nice to have’.

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Hi Kate Rushton 

Thank you for the link! This give me a lot to consider as far as education content is concerned.

As Andrea Zelenak pointed out above, while it is important to demonstrate the benefits of smart budgeting, it will also be extremely advantageous to link students with financial resources that don't require pay back (ie. scholarships, grants, work study, college credits, etc).

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Hi Danyelle!

I'm really happy to see that you're tackling the financial aspect of this challenge. I myself have a ton of student loans to pay back so I'm interested to see how this develops. Feel free to tag me if you want some input!

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Hi Andrea Zelenak 

Thank you for the encouragement! I'd be interested to hear more on your personal experience incurring student load debt. What resources did you utilize while making the decision to take on these debts? What resources do you wish had?

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Hi Danyelle,

I must have missed this comment from a while back! Congrats on making it to the refinement phase!

For me, I really didn't have a lot of resources. My main resource was my mother (haha). I asked her for financial help and really helped me decide how much debt I should put myself in. In the same way, I had to find out the difference between unsubsidized and subsidized loans. I thought some of my loans wouldn't have interest until 6 months after I graduated (which was true for some), but some started to gain interest after I graduated. Altogether, a 101 guide would have been nice, much of the research I did on my own.

Also, I've noticed loans try to stick you to a 10-20 year plan. If there was a way for students to budget their money, I know a lot could pay off their loans in a shorter time if they calculated their money.

Photo of Andrea Zelenak
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Hi Danyelle,

I must have missed this comment from a while back! Congrats on making it to the refinement phase!

For me, I really didn't have a lot of resources. My main resource was my mother (haha). I asked her for financial help and really helped me decide how much debt I should put myself in. In the same way, I had to find out the difference between unsubsidized and subsidized loans. I thought some of my loans wouldn't have interest until 6 months after I graduated (which was true for some), but some started to gain interest after I graduated. Altogether, a 101 guide would have been nice, much of the research I did on my own.

Also, I've noticed loans try to stick you to a 10-20 year plan. If there was a way for students to budget their money, I know a lot could pay off their loans in a shorter time if they calculated their money.

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Andrea Zelenak Thanks for your insight!
I also looked to my parents for financial advice :) I like your idea of enabling students to budget their money more responsibly prior and after graduating. This will be a key component of the education content. I think it may also be beneficial to link students with financial resources that don't require pay back (ie. scholarships, grants, work study).

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Hi Danyelle and Chris,

Have you seen Raise.me - https://www.raise.me/ ? It might give you a few ideas.

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Hi Danyelle and team,

Welcome to the refinement phase, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by using @ and typing my name.

Take care,

Kate

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Hi Danyelle,

Much needed! The concepts of personal finance get lost sometimes and the best time to ingrain them is at a young age before someone can ruin their credit or get into a lot of debt. I think parents would be willing to have a stake in their child's financial literacy...whether with money or time. It could also be useful for parents who never learned this in the first place!

Jawad

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Hi Danyelle,

I like this idea and look forward to its development. You might want to check out the Live Richer Challenge, http://www.livericherchallenge.net/
It's a great tool for financial education that breaks down info and tasks into manageable bite size pieces.
Best,
Lulu

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Hi Danyelle,

I hope you are having a nice day. What sort of expertise or advice do you think you need to get this idea off the ground?

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Kate Rushton Thank you! I have been keeping tabs on comments and have recruited someone with a background in finance and tech who will assist me in responding (hopefully by tonight!)

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Hi Kate Rushton - Danyelle recently added me to the team. I can wear many hats though my expertise is in project management primarily in the FinTech space . We could certainly use subject matter experts like CFA charter holders or CPAs.

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Hi Danyelle.
This is a great idea. There are many tasks that teens might be able to do to earn some money for their future. I like the flexibility of this idea!
I wonder if teens might be more motivated if they could keep a small part of their earnings for now? Having some cash in hand might also be a way for them to practice the skills that they will learn in the financial literacy lessons?
Here are some tools/models for teaching financial literacy to children, teens and young adults I learned of during a previous OI Challenge. Check these out for possible inspiration? They involve play and gaming.
Playmoolah - A mobile game (Whymoolah - this is their game for young adults)
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/research/playmoolah/
Thrive and Shine - A mobile game
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/research/educational-games-communuty-outreach
Game Theory Academy is taught in a group setting.
http://www.gametheoryacademy.org/about/mission-history/

Looking forward to seeing your idea develop!

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Hi Danyelle,

This is a really interesting idea!

What sort of financial literacy courses would be available i.e. what topics and in what depth? Can you think of any courses online that could be adapted for this purpose e.g. examples from the Khan Academy, Udemy, Cousera etc.?

There is a website that might interest you - https://www.mindsumo.com/challenges

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I would recommend checking out the following posts:

Company Sponsored Colleges (Build on this idea) 
Interchallenge Project Ambiguity 
I think there might be potential for collaboration there.

Also, is there any chance you could find an image to go along with your post? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.