As an educator, you might have heard about food deserts (areas in which it's incredibly difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food), but did you know there's also a phenomenon known as bank deserts? These neighborhoods don't have establishments like banks or credit unions where basic financial services can be easily accessed, and citizens in areas like these are often vulnerable to the all-too-prominent predatory payday lenders and expensive check-cashing agencies that dot the community. After seeing the devastating effects that living in one of these spots can have on kids' futures, economics student Ted Gonder couldn't stand on the sidelines any longer and took money matters into his own hands by creating Moneythink—an organization training college volunteers to serve as financial coaches and mentors to low-income teens across the country.
In collaboration with schools and communities often within bank deserts, this awesome organization provides mentors to juniors and seniors in high school and focuses on real-world financial choices like saving up for college instead of buying trends. Moneythink also harnesses the power of social media to really drive their financial lessons home—something we as educators can definitely take inspiration from (and totally identify with). When students use the Instagram-like app, they're given a mission to post about while other Moneythink users can comment and like photos, often positively reinforcing and helping students learn effective money management skills. And with some not-so-shocking stats from the Pew Research Center stating that 92% of teens are going online at least once a day, we can't think of a better place to talk some cents about smart spending habits.