Follow the Money Tour

Usher’s New Look (UNL) hosted its inaugural “Follow the Money Tour” in Washington, DC, during the February 18th-21st mid-winter recess school break.  The tour, made possible by a grant from SunTrust Foundation, is part of UNL’s Financial Literacy training infused into the organization’s Powered By Service (8th grade), Leadership Academy (grades 9-12) and Moguls-In-Training (college/postsecondary) programs.  The 25 10th- and 11th-grade Leadership Academy youth from the Atlanta and New York chapters of the organization learned about financial principles by visiting a variety of stops.  The Office of Financial Education at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau presented a workshop on budgeting and credit fundamentals. The students had the opportunity to tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and learn some of the history of our currency.  Students visited the original location and indulged their taste buds at one of the historic DC family-owned restaurants, Ben’s Chili Bowl. They learned the story of the family’s journey from starting a small business to earning national recognition. They discussed the impact a business, no matter the size, can have in building a strong community.  Students also participated in a Networking Social where they heard from community leaders and entrepreneurs, Nikki Howard and Jaqi Wright, also known as The Furlough Cheesecake Sisters. The “Sisters” shared their story of how they used their sparks (talents) to launch a business during the recent government shutdown. The students were able to take advantage of the proximity to another historic landmark, taking a tour of Howard University and learning about financial aid processes and student life on campus.


“With only 16 percent of Americans ages 18-26 being optimistic about their financial future, it is important that the youth we serve in Usher’s New Look begin to develop financial well-being habits early.  This trip presented a tremendous opportunity for them to understand the impact of financial decisions in various aspects of their lives. We are confident that the SunTrust Foundation investment in our youth will transform their futures as they prepare to become leaders of the next generation,” said Careshia Moore, CEO, Usher’s New Look.


Youth also had an opportunity to take in the sights including a visit to the National Museum for African American History and Culture, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.


“This trip gave me a lot of financial wisdom that enabled me to be aware of credit cards, budgeting, and knowing how to spend money for the right situations,” said Neil, an 11th-grade Leadership Academy youth.  “This trip also gave me the opportunity to be more of an explorer. It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. It also gave me the wonderful opportunity to try new food and meet new people.”


Through a grant from the SunTrust Foundation, UNL has been able to add the financial literacy component to other programs offered. The new curriculum focuses on helping students identify core life values, gain practical experience in making wise financial decisions, and real-life application to improve their quality of life. The “Follow the Money Tour” is the first of two financial-focused trips this year.  The next will be in New York and will focus on investing.


“My mission for this trip was to give the students another perspective on how money works, to go beyond the classroom and see how money is used in our government, in the lives of entrepreneurs and the world around us. It is my hope that as a result of this experience, these students will apply the wealth building principles they were exposed to and take full responsibility of their financial futures,” shared Jessica Washington, director of financial literacy who spearheads the program.