Georgetown students Christopher McNulty (SFS ’16) and Michael Li (SFS ’17) officially announced Tuesday the launch of a Georgetown chapter for Moneythink, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to educate low-income youth in financial literacy through a student-run mentorship program.
Originally founded by students at the University of Chicago, the organization now has over 30 chapters at universities across the country. The nonprofit aims to recruit undergraduate volunteers to teach students from local high schools about good financial habits. A significant part of the curriculum revolves around Moneythink Mobile, a mobile app the organization describes as a “gamified Instagram.” Students post pictures that depict good spending habits and both mentors and their fellow students have the opportunity to respond to these posts with reinforcing positive feedback. The app also allows users to compete with each other in various photo challenges run by the organization.
Georgetown’s chapter of Moneythink started to develop with a pilot program held last semester while partnered with Roosevelt STAY High School in northwest D.C. According to Li, forming a relationship with a local high school administrator was crucial for the success of the Georgetown chapter.
“A very important part of this process has been finding a partner in the administration at the high school level that is willing to work with us, and Roosevelt STAY has been fantastic in that sense,” Li said.
Li said the executive board of Georgetown Moneythink also hopes to expand their network to other schools in the D.C. area as well.
The Georgetown chapter is currently undergoing New Club Development under the Center for Social Justice to help the program grow and hopefully, develop Moneythink into one of the CSJ’s signature programs like DC Reads, the After School Kids Program or DC Schools Project. To this end, Moneythink is currently and actively recruiting student volunteers to be mentors for the program. McNulty said developing this organization at the university and forming relationships with younger students will make it one of his most important experiences at Georgetown.
“It definitely is a learning experience, but I think it’s one of the most important things I’ve done at Georgetown, to go into that classroom and be able to connect with the students … and better their lives,” McNulty said. “It’s definitely something very special to be involved in.”
Maddi Niebanck (COL ’17), vice president of marketing for Moneything, said going into the high schools and interacting with the students was significantly different from what they initially imagined.
“Going into the classroom, it’s all of sudden a whole different story. I think the hardest part is trying to seem like we’re super passionate and relaying our messages, but also finding a way to connect with the students, while also coming off as professional,” Niebanck said.
Xavier Gurrola (SFS ’17), vice president of operations, interned at Moneythink over the summer in their business department and subsequently became interested in getting involved in the Georgetown chapter.
“I wanted to give back to the D.C. community at large, especially in more impoverished areas, because I come from that background myself,” Gurrola said.
The executive board currently does most of the mentoring for the organization, working on every weekday except Friday. The team is holding information sessions this semester to gain more recognition by the student body and attract more volunteers. The Georgetown chapter continues to work with Roosevelt STAY and hopes to partner with other schools in the near future.
Justin Chung (MSB ’17) wants to be a mentor because he is passionate about financial literacy and would like to foster equality in the United States.
“I feel like the problem with America right now is that there’s too much of an opportunity gap … and not everyone has access to information of how to take care of their finances … I think that translates to really big social systemic issues that we see in America,” Chung said.