September: Financial Empowerment
This September, ABNY is elevating YPs working for financial empowerment to expand and advocate for access to financial services specifically for youth and underbanked communities.
Congratulations to our September Spotlights of the month Travis Fox, The Marcy Lab School and Max Goldberger, Grant Associates!
It definitely was not a straight path to get to my current role! The trajectory of my career can largely be attributed to curiosity, good luck, and amazing mentors. I started with an interest in education policy, working on the Future Ready Schools project at the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration, and continued exploring the intersection of technology and education by helping start the Washington Leadership Academy charter school in D.C. and leading higher education partnerships at the edtech startup RaiseMe in San Francisco. I then spent a few years learning about business strategy, workforce development, and nonprofit management before taking a role at the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline, a program launched out of the Mayor’s Office and focused on connecting underrepresented NYC talent with local tech companies. After working with all of the CUNY Computer Science Departments and software engineering bootcamps in NYC for a few years, I discovered a nonprofit that I felt had the potential to make a huge positive impact — and now I’ve been at Marcy for two years!
I am most proud of the work that we’ve done at Marcy to help change the trajectory of the lives of our fellows and to build generational wealth. Our average graduate is 21 and does not hold a college degree, but our average starting salaries after graduation are $106,000 at fantastic companies like Spotify, the New York Times, and Squarespace. The salaries our alumni earn are a life-changing sum of money for these young people and their families. In the last year, one Fellow was able to help his family buy a home. Another paid for a knee surgery for her father that he has needed for over ten years. And another was able to take her mother on vacation for the first time in her life. Seeing that impact keeps our team motivated and engaged to continue growing the organization and scaling our potential impact!
Read, listen, and ask! I’ve carved out time weekly since the beginning of my career to read content, news, and research on the topics I’m interested in — primarily education models, workforce development, and tech culture. From there, I’ll try to connect with the people writing articles or updates that I like and ask for a conversation or advice. At worst, I get left on read from a LinkedIn DM, but at best I learn something new and make a valuable connection!
As a transplant, I don’t know if I will ever be a true “New Yorker”. However, I think that I knew I was here to stay when I tried to move to a new apartment in the middle of winter by myself using an UberXL and way too many subway trips. Something about lugging boxes through a snowbank and up the stairs of my walk up, but still being thrilled about the opportunity to be here, solidified my love for this place!
My first job after college was as a financial counselor. I didn’t have any experience with personal finance, but I knew I wanted to work with people and do something to help local communities. I found out that not only was I pretty good at it, but that I really enjoyed it. I worked for several organizations as a financial counselor and then transitioned to work for the City helping manage the Financial Empowerment Center program. I’m now at Grant Associates working to integrate financial empowerment services into workforce development programming.
I love what I do, and the more that I work in the field, the more certain I am at how important this work is.
As a financial counselor I had a number of clients who I helped out of really serious financial holes. I helped my clients with everything from basic budgeting to pre-bankruptcy counseling and everything in between. There is no better feeling than having a client tell you that you helped them put their lives back together and know that you really made an impact.
Financial counseling is difficult work. You’re going to see a lot of highs and a lot of lows when you work one-on-one with people, but it pays off if you stick with it. Financial empowerment programming is a growing industry as more people than ever need help both understanding the financial system and improving their own financial health.
When I went to college in Washington, DC and realized that most cities don’t have a subway that runs 24/7. Growing up in NYC I just assumed that every city also had bodegas on every corner, more restaurants than you can count within a 5 minute walk, and skyscrapers all over the place. You should have seen my face when I learned that most places outside of NYC don’t have handball courts in most parks, as I’m a big handball player.