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  • Writer's pictureLizeth Antonio

Advancing Economic Opportunity for the Youth

Youthful Savings: Somya and Danny hold youth entrepreneurship workshop

When we consider the concept of wellbeing, it can be easy to overlook the many factors that contribute to one’s essential needs to accomplish a level of wellbeing. While it can vary from person to person, one crucial aspect that can significantly influence an individual and their community is Economic Opportunity

When we talk about economic opportunity, it can include a range of things such as financial literacy, training on how to save or invest. All of these things are important as an adult, but if we don’t have basic knowledge before we reach adulthood then we could find it very hard to get by. So how can this be helped?

One solution is to advocate for and organize accessible workshops around economic growth for young people.

While kids may be introduced to board games and word problems that aim to provide them with a basic understanding of economics, there is more that can be done to prepare today’s youth for navigating the economy.  It is important to teach them the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully navigate the economy that exists today.

If you were to ask low-income middle or high school students about pursuing a higher education  or their career aspirations without the mental stress of affording it, it may be the first time that they dare to reimagine their future. Using this as an example, there are many factors that can hinder achieving their goals and much of it begins with having a lack of financial resources.

Young individuals who come from low-income households often have an understanding of their financial situation. However, some may not be aware of the significance of credit cards, credit scores, and how to manage them. They might not know the importance of saving money or how much to save to start generating income or wealth. It is crucial to provide accessible resources to promote economic growth for these young individuals. This can even help to address generational-economic trauma and pave the way for a better future.

One organization dedicated to boosting economic growth in young people is the Youthful Savings organization. Their goal is to empower the next generation with accessible education toward socioeconomic growth. The organization offers learning labs such as the Learning Marketplace and My Own Business Challenge. These programs help youths increase their knowledge of the economy and improve their technological and business skills. Youthful Savings takes a bottom-up approach to making a lasting impact on the economy, prioritizing mental wellbeing, accountability, and ethical business practices.

The program module has its origins in New York, however, it has also been implemented in the Los Angeles area. Recognizing the need to cultivate entrepreneurial skills among the young population in the westside, Somya conducted a workshop as part of the Youthful Savings Program. This one-day workshop was held in Santa Monica for middle school students to guide them through planning and sustaining a successful business. During the workshop, students proposed their business ideas and received coaching to further develop their business concepts from idea to actualization. This workshop had a positive impact not only on the students but also on the teachers, who were able to see the value and change in wellbeing when accessible economic-based workshops were available in the community

Somya, your passion was an inspiration to the class. Youth financial literacy and awareness it's an important subject that hardly ever gets addressed in schools. We hope you and Danny can come and speak to our 8th graders sometime in the future

To continue supporting this work, another Wellbeing Microgrant project was led in partnership with the Teen Center at Virginia Ave. Park, called “My Own Business Challenge”. This project was an online economic development workshop series training youths from ages of 14-24 on how to build and sustain a business ethically. At the end of the challenge, the program provided capital investment to the participants by granting them a stipend to start their businesses. During the enrollment process, some participants shared that they would start a small business to support their household income. This reflects the sense of responsibility that youths feel towards improving the economic wellbeing of their household.

Gabriela (also known as Bibi) is a young person who benefited from the economic opportunities provided by Youthful Savings. She received a microgrant which helped her sustain her small business called "Bibi's Tie Dye Creations". Bibi's business was initially started through the My Own Business Challenge workshops, and she worked hard to encourage more young people in the Pico neighborhood of Santa Monica, California to learn about entrepreneurship.

I hope to inspire more youth to be like me and help the world see that youth voices matter. If we all work together and transact with integrity, then the business and political systems of our world can shift to be more equitable and kind…My business inspires my friends and my community. If I see more youth helping themselves and their community then I will know that I am making a difference but more importantly that I am creating a positive movement of uplifting a historically underserved neighborhood! Together, we can do anything!

Through conducting a wellbeing survey our team has found that many members of our community feel that they have not been provided with sufficient opportunities to advance economically. It is important to make more opportunities available to the community to ensure that they feel supported in their economic pursuits.

Over the years, the Pico neighborhood stakeholders have been advocating for improving economic opportunity and wellbeing in Santa Monica. In response to their efforts, Community Corp. Santa Monica is preparing to launch a community-based marketplace named “Pico Roots”. This marketplace will cater to the local community and provide a range of products and services from small and micro businesses.

We are happy to share that youth entrepreneurs from Youthful Savings will be showcased at the Pico Roots Marketplace.

How can you impact economic opportunity in your community?


Youthful Savings Marketplace: Youth Entrepreneurs

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