Developing financial responsibility doesn’t just happen without effort. Earlier this spring, we shared that Vince Tortorici was volunteering with Secure Futures to teach their Money Sense program at Park High School. While that program is suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions in Racine, it didn’t stop Vince from volunteering for a revamped program called Money Coach offered to Milwaukee students.
Money coach volunteers engage with students to mentor and encourage them to develop financial responsibility. They work together in small groups and one-on-one to develop action plans intended to help them achieve financial needs and goals. Three coaches and 15 students participated in this fall’s ten-week program with all meetings held virtually via Google Classroom and Zoom. The primary content is developed by Secure Futures, but Vince says the highest level of engagement with his five students came when he shared his personal stories and insights about personal finance and financial responsibility.
“The most touching moment I experienced was when a student, who wasn’t very engaged at the start, ended up expressing interest in being a financial planner as a career choice,” Vince said. This student had an interest in cooking and felt that being a chef would be a good option. During a 1:1 session with Vince, they discussed savings and how the student could begin to create wealth. “Later that student told me he so enjoyed our conversation he wanted to do what I do.”
This program session ends on December 11, but Vince is already planning to volunteer again in the spring when it will be offered again.
Participating students learn vital personal financial skills such as expense tracking, budgeting, goal setting, spending and saving habits, and banking and account management. Money Coach offers students the opportunity to earn up to $350 in scholarships for completing program milestones.
“I was surprised at how well the kids showed up. Each student has a unique background and ideas for their future,” he said. “Funny, that while I was teaching them, I was also learning from them. I learned more about how our money behaviors and attitudes are driven by the unique experiences we have and how we respond to those experiences.” That increased sensitivity and emotional awareness will further advance Vince’s own skills in working with families seeking financial planning.