Financial Literacy Month

This month we are focusing on Financial Literacy at UNL. UNL provides financial literacy training to our students through online courses, partner school engagement, and Spark Center events across the country. Our Director of Financial Literacy, Jessica Washington, is rewriting the narrative and working to eliminate generational poverty. Our programs introduce students to budgeting fundamentals, early investment strategies, building credit worthiness, and creating a habit of savings.

Through partnerships such as with the SunTrust Foundation, Usher’s New Look has been able to provide financial literacy empowerment to more than 5000 students nationwide. We have been able to build out an incredible program that goes beyond the classroom and gives our students real-life exposure to consumer banking, credit protection, entrepreneurial opportunities, investment strategies, and post-secondary education options. We are delivering the tools that are necessary for our students to take responsibility for their financial futures. Thank you SunTrust Foundation!

1. “Do not save what is left after spending; instead spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffet


3. BUDGET – Use percentages (%) rather than dollar ($) amount. Budget every dollar earned

4. INCREASE – Monetize your talents. Create opportunities.

5. INSURE – Protect Investments. Maintain Standard of Living.

6. INVEST – Invest in yourself. Max 401k, IRA, Mutual Funds. Own Shares before pairs.

7. MONITOR – Check accuracy often. Use credit wisely. Maintain 700+.

8. PRACTICE BUDGETING – It’s never too early to practice budgeting for life. If you are comfortable budgeting $50 now, you will be more successful budgeting your $50,000 salary as an adult.

9. KNOW YOUR SPENDING HABITS -Track your spending for 30 days to see where your money is going. Then cut spending on anything that doesn’t promote your financial goals.

10. CREATE S.M.A.R.T. FINANCIAL GOALS – Start small with short term goals (30-60 days). Strategic | Measurable | Achievable | Realistic | Timely

11. PRACTICE HEALTH CREDIT WORTHY HABITS – Do as you say. Don’t borrow money that you cannot repay. Practice saving for goals rather than borrowing money from others.

12. GET TO KNOW YOUR BANK – Get to know your bank and learn about saving strategies they offer: CDs, etc.

13. AUTOMATE YOUR SAVINGS – Automate your savings every month. Set up automatic transfers on your pay dates. Enroll in your bank’s round-up program so that every time you swipe your debit card, a portion is sent to your savings account.


15. PRACTICE DISCIPLINE WITH YOUR FINANCES -Before you spend your hard earned $$$, ask yourself, “Will this purchase help me meet my goals?” If the answer is “no”, put down the item and walk away.

16. TRACK YOUR SPENDING – For the next 30 days, write down every single purchase you make. At the end of the 30 days, identify items that are necessary and those that can be cut or cut down on.

17. START TODAY – Identify one step you can take toward strengthening your financial future. Start saving. Start paying debts. Start budgeting. Start keeping track of your spending.

18. INVEST IN YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE -What is it going to take to get the next level? The best investment is in YOURSELF. Get educated, search for better employment, seek opportunities to grow and get ready for the next level of YOU.


20. OWN YOUR FUTURE – Regardless of your current economic status, you can own your future. Make the right decisions. Strengthen your credit. Eliminate all debts. Start Saving. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals. Learn about personal finance. It’s your money. OWN IT!

Powered by Service works with Pan-African Youth Leadership Program

On April 8, 2019, I, along with three other MITs, facilitated a special Powered By Service training for 125 African students and teachers representing 19 African countries. These youth were a part of the Pan-African Youth Leadership Program, where they were nominated to the US Embassy by their respective country and offered a three week leadership exploration throughout the United States and we were their first stop! Upon meeting the students, they were extremely enthusiastic, full of energy, engaging, and had a great amount of confidence within themselves. They enjoyed the curriculum and questioned anything they were unsure of. We engaged in informative conversations based on the activities as the customs of life are unique to each students’ country. We tackled the concept of leadership 101 and the differences of all the multiple types of leaders, we explored personal sparks and students discovered things they didn’t realize about themselves, and began creating a network of like minded people that would help the students make their dreams come true. My favorite topics during this training was Money Matters and Exploding the Issue. During Money Matters and particularly 4 Corners of Credit, is where I got to really see the difference between the Northern African students and the Southern African students. A lot of the concepts surrounding credit were new and a little foreign to the Northern African participants yet the South African students were well versed in the area. It was intriguing to learn what some of the students were unfamiliar with and why they strayed away from it. Lastly, Exploding the Issue was an emotional topic because the issue my class decided to dissect was banning girls from school, which I didn’t realize was still an issue in 2019. We dived into the issue by looking at the deep rooted reasons why it’s an issue, the causes that it leads to, and some solutions that can begin to prevent this from happening. It was a great conversation and an eye-opener to me. This was my favorite PBS training I’ve done yet and I’m glad I was able to actually provided the students with information that they were happy to take back home with them. They learned some things but I also gained a great amount of insight as well.

Usher’s New Look MIT

MIT Kaija Johnson

Learn more about UNL’s Powered by Service Program.