Upper schoolers at Agnes Irwin are shaping their fiscal futures on a journey through Invest in Girls, a unique girl-focused, financial literacy program.
The initiative — created by the nonprofit organization of the same name — prepares girls to take charge of their finances, addressing important topics such loans, credit cards, interest rates, budgeting, taxes, and more. Students discuss key concepts and use hands-on activities to reinforce their knowledge, such as allocating limited “funds” — represented by coffee beans — into budget lines for housing, transportation, utilities, and other financial considerations in order to provide a snapshot of their household expenses.
The Agnes Irwin School is the program’s exclusive location in Pennsylvania, a partnership dating back more than six years and the result of an initiative pursued by the Center for the Advancement of Girls. “In our work both as a school and through The Center, we are committed to developing young women who are independent leaders — and one element of independence is financial literacy,” notes Mr. Tim Walsh, AIS chief financial officer and the program’s instructor. “Invest in Girls expands upon existing finance components in our curriculum, taking girls’ training to the next level.” Such preparation can be overlooked in traditional educational settings, but is crucial to attaining fiscal independence and freedom.
The curriculum features content written by women, for women — an important aspect that allows AIS to direct the program specifically towards the needs of these future leaders. Beginning in the sophomore year, Invest in Girls provides a solid foundation of fiscal acumen that students build on as they progress through the junior and senior years. Current members of the Class of 2021 who began the program as sophomores have the potential to receive three years of financial study by graduation — giving them an advantage as they step off the Commencement stage and out into the world.
In an era of growing concern surrounding student debt, Invest in Girls also equips students with a solid understanding of their collegiate and postcollegiate financial responsibilities — and the consequences of the monetary decisions they make after high school.
“Throughout the Invest in Girls program, I learned valuable financial lessons, including budgeting, the importance of setting aside money for savings, as well as how to manage my credit — all important components of being fiscally responsible,” remarks junior Tori Summers. “Armed with this knowledge, I'm ready to take charge of my finances in college and beyond.”
Walsh anticipates potential expansion of Invest In Girls at AIS, including the addition of a winter sequence, integrating advanced Invest in Girls curriculum into Senior Seminar classes, and providing additional opportunities through female guest speakers and deeper collaboration with existing AIS classes in economics, mathematics, and more.