When the African Leadership Group’s Youth Empowerment Initiative offered a financial literacy class recently in conjunction with Pacific Western Bank, Mariam Camara was eager to join.
A junior at Denver East High School, Mariam was disgruntled that the school’s financial literacy class was open only to seniors. She was ready to learn more about the basics of personal finance – balancing a checkbook, budgeting, understanding credit cards and how to stay out of debt, and beginning to save early for retirement.
And given how busy senior year can be with college and scholarship applications, she was eager to focus on these important issues before other matters distracted her.
“There’s just too much going on senior year to add this to it as well,” she said.
The five-week course met one hour each week over Zoom. It gave Mariam everything she wanted, and she said she would recommend it to her friends.
“They also provided information on college admissions, financial aid, and tuition, which was really helpful,” she said.
Laura Mendez, a Pacific Western Bank community banker, taught the financial literacy class, as she had for the past few years. “We try to make it fun and interactive, and to help them understand the importance of banking – it is something you’re going to deal with your whole life,” she said.
While most participants are middle- and high school students, Mendez said that occasionally older people who are new to the U.S. join as well, to familiarize themselves with how the banking system in this country operates.