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Paterson Youth Council Holds Financial Literacy Day

Paterson Youth Council Holds Financial Literacy Day

April 26, 2024

Check out our event photos

April is National Financial Literacy Month, a time to promote the importance of improving financial literacy — especially among youth. Financial literacy is especially important for Paterson youth: a quarter of Paterson residents live below the poverty level, and learning financial literacy at a young age gives these youth a better chance of breaking the cycle of generational poverty.


Last year, with the help of a generous grant from the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation, NJCDC launched the Great Falls Peer Financial Literacy program. Through this program, teens in our Paterson Youth Council (PYC) attend workshops led by volunteers from local financial institutions. The series of workshops covers a variety of financial topics, including preventing identity theft, creating a budget, opening a savings account, and more. At the end of the comprehensive curriculum, the teens are better equipped to manage their own financial future — and to support their peers!


In the fall, this year’s PYC cohort began attending financial literacy workshops. After a series of eight workshops, the students had learned about many different financial topics. They decided to take what they learned and expand the program’s impact by training their peers on those same financial literacy topics. On Tuesday, April 16, John F. Kennedy High School students were invited to participate in a Financial Literacy Day, hosted by PYC members. In addition, the teens were joined by employees from Columbia Bank, Valley Bank, Peapack-Gladstone Bank, Lakeland Bank, and Modera Wealth Management, who were available to answer technical questions about their financial services.

In the morning, more than 100 students met in the school’s auditorium, ready to learn. The students were welcomed by Edwin Hernandez, the Associate Supervisor of JFK’s Business and Marketing Pathway, and Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laurie Newell. Students then heard from the NJCDC staff overseeing the Great Falls Peer Financial Literacy program, Eddie Gonzalez, NJCDC’s Director of Community Outreach and PYC Advisor, and Parshu Shah, NJCDC’s Chief Development Officer. The high schoolers were then divided into small groups and sent to several classrooms to learn about different financial literacy topics.

In the classroom sessions, PYC members ran workshops on two topics, Budgeting and Credit Scores & Reports. The PYC members were supported by employees from the financial institutions who provided real-life examples of putting a budget to work and improving credit scores. These highly interactive sessions also provided the JFK students with the opportunity to ask questions, with the added incentive of earning raffle tickets towards a new PlayStation 5 for participation!


After the lessons, everyone gathered back in the auditorium. Students were treated to a delicious pizza lunch and had the chance to meet with local bank representatives about any questions they had. The students also had the opportunity to open up a savings account with North Jersey Federal Credit Union, which operates a branch on the John F. Kennedy High School campus. Each student who attended will receive $50 to put into their new savings account.

“Financial literacy is super, super important for your success in life,” Superintendent Dr. Laurie Newell told the students. “As high school students, you’re literally on the cusp of entering the real world. And so, the financial decisions that you make can affect your life for the rest of your life. Understanding how to manage your money efficiently is critical to how you will live your life and some of the decisions you make. By developing these strong financial literacy skills, you’ll be better prepared to seize opportunities and thrive in the years to come.”

Eddie Gonzalez said, “It’s critical, if you are looking to be successful in the future, that you learn how to budget, that you learn about your credit, that you save money. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, it’s about what you know about money — how to save and how to invest. Today, you will learn the skills that you’re going to need to become very successful for yourself, but also for your families. And you can pass this knowledge on to your siblings, to your family members, and your parents.”

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