So you think you can make it in this competitive world without dressing for success?
Well, Clare Sentsrom, the past president of the Financial Planning Association of New York (FPANY), a non-profit organization, said “No” to a packed audience of students and members of the local community.
Sentrom’s presentation is part of joint venture of FPANY and BMCC to bring financial literacy to students through the MoneyWorks program, largely supported by a grant from the Merrill-Lynch Foundation.
“When you walk into a room for an interview with a potential new boss or client, they only see your outside. If you walk into a bank with a sweatshirt and jeans, they’ll just think about you, nothing more,“ said Sentrom.
Ms. Sentrom’s presentation was the last of this semester’s eight presentations, which began with “Goal Setting: Putting a Dollar Sign on Your Dreams” and ended with “Dressing for Success.” The audience of BMCC students and members of the community ate up the diet of critical financial literacy skills. The next eight sessions will begin in the spring semester.
MoneyWorks is in response to evidence indicating that large segments of the public, especially college students, have a very limited knowledge of basic monetary principles. As Sentrom said, “We’re here to make sure that when this course is over you will be comfortable with your finances. The course will give you the tools to buy a car, choose the best insurance, and make the best investments. We’ll give you the tools to do it the right way.”
Senstrom was implicitly referring to a non-profit financial research organization recently called America’s youth “Generation Broke,” based on the report “The Growth of Debt Among Young Americans,” which showed that credit card debt among 18-24 year olds has risen by 104 percent over the past decade. Today’s young people carry the highest student loan balances in U.S. history, which averaged $19,900 in 2002. BMCC and FPANY see this program as a life-altering opportunity for the students of BMCC, the majority of who come from families with an income of $25,000 or less.
The curriculum used for MoneyWorks is integrated with “Investing Pays Off,” a financial literacy curriculum created by Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch is supporting the BMCC financial literacy program with a grant of $100,000. The program runs through the 2006-2007 academic year. TD Ameritrade is also supporting the program and Money Tree is providing financial software to BMCC Financial Literacy Ambassadors, BMCC students.
“Financial knowledge and independence are key to enabling these deserving young people to pursue their dreams and achieve success. Our dedicated volunteers engage the students and bring the financial curriculum to life for them,” said Eddy Bayardelle, president of the Merrill Lynch Foundation.
President Pérez calls this program “innovative” and has seen how MoneyWorks is providing “our students with the information necessary for them to achieve the kind of financial health that will benefit their future.”
During the fall semester, students learned to make intelligent financial choices with their own money by learning about budgeting, the time value of money, and the basics of saving and investing. Concepts such as risk, credit, insurance, and the ability to achieve a sound financial future are also a part of the MoneyWorks curriculum.
A central component of the program involves a group of 20 BMCC students, who have been selected to serve as Financial Literacy Ambassadors. Business and financial professionals including Merrill Lynch executives are mentoring the Ambassadors, who receive full BMCC tuition scholarships. Regular meetings with their mentors and additional course assignments further the Ambassadors’ financial and personal development. The 20 Ambassadors also serve as peer mentors to other BMCC students, assisting them with their own financial concerns.
There is no cost to attend, but reservations for next semester are required. To reserve your seat for next semester, and for further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All MoneyWorks programs will take place at Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street, New York City.