Financial Education for Teens: Sabin Community
When talking with Craig Fondren, economic empowerment manager at Sabin
Community Development Corporation (CDC), it is clear that financial education
is the common ingredient in all of the nonprofit’s youth programs. Founded in 1991, Sabin CDC is a community-based organization whose mission is to stabilize and improve the viability of the culturally diverse neighborhoods it serves in North/Northeast Portland, Oregon. Sabin CDC works to achieve its goals by creating affordable housing, homeownership, and business development opportunities for neighborhood residents. Recognizing that just providing a roof for a family is not enough, Sabin CDC’s Executive Director Felicia Allender-Brant also has established venues to help teens, adults, and seniors in the nonprofit’s neighborhoods build developmental life skills such as financial literacy and technology training. Partnerships with business, government, and community groups are integral to the success of the nonprofit’s
When Sabin CDC rolled out its first financial education program for
high school students in 2002, it brought in the “home” team in the form of Steve Kerr and other starting lineup members of the Portland Trailblazers to deliver the training. “The Trailblazers really helped get the kids involved when we launched the program,” says Fondren. Called the Game of Life, the training followed a game show format and used financial education curriculum developed by Federal Reserve Banks and Fannie Mae to reach 154 high school students. Students learned financial basics such as budgeting and saving. They also learned to distinguish between “needs” and “wants” and
to create decision-making strategies to reach their financial goals.
Fondren notes that many students who completed the Game of Life also participate in Sabin’s Youth Tech Corps, which includes a financial education component like all of Sabin’s teen programs. Along with improving their own technology skills to develop financial spreadsheets and research financial information on the Internet, the teens go into Sabin’s targeted neighborhoods during their third year in the program to teach adults similar computer and financial skills. Adults who have specific financial goals are provided with computers in their homes.
When asked about the results he sees from the teen programs, Fondren points to Cameron Powell and La Toya McGee, both the Game of Life graduates and Tech Corps members. Using skills learned at Sabin CDC and through a partnership with the Portland Public School’s Portland Area Training Center, the two created a financial literacy and job preparedness section for the center’s employment Web site for high school students. McGee also is the center’s 2002/2003 Youth Ambassador. Carrying their skills into the workplace, the two have opened savings accounts and are depositing one-third of their paychecks to save for future financial goals.