Moneythink brings financial literacy to youths

Fourth-year CHBE Missy Pittard lives by the motto her high school volleyball coach had: “Better the ball.”

Pittard has been involved with Techlist, SGA, Omicron Delta Kappa, Alpha Chi Omega and recently helped found a Moneythink chapter at Tech.

“Anything that I have done during my time at Tech has been to make it better,” Pittard said. “You think about any sport. When you touch something, you want to make it better. That’s how I look at people, places and phases of life. So with anything I have been involved with at Tech, [my goal] was to make Tech better for after I’m gone.”

Moneythink is a national movement of mentoring and educating youth, predominantly in inner cities, about finances.  The main goal of Moneythink is to have mentors teaching their mentees about finances and, in doing so, increase the baseline knowledge America’s youth has concerning finance.

“It is a mutual learning process,” Pittard said. “We are mentoring them, but we have a curriculum to get through, and we learn from it too.”

The underlying goal of Moneythink is to foster a relationship between mentor and mentee so that the mentee has access to opportunities and wisdom that they wouldn’t have without that relationship.

“I’ve had students come back to me and say ‘I helped my mom open a bank account!’ which is so great,” Pittard said. “We don’t think of all the knowledge we have had solely because of our parents, and to hear that these students are able to use [what] we give them and create a ripple effect really shows how great of an impact this organization can have.”

Pittard co-founded the Moneythink chapter at Georgia Tech with Ben Ashby. Ashby had heard a presentation on Moneythink and introduced her to the organization. Together, they brought it to Atlanta and to Tech. Moneythink, at that time, was operating in 13 states, and with the help of her friend, Pittard contacted Moneythink HQ.

“Atlanta and Chicago have very similar demographics, so obviously Atlanta could really benefit from this organization,” Pittard said. “When we contacted them, they thought Tech was the perfect place for this to start in Atlanta. We’ve got really smart students who care, and we are situated right in the middle of impoverished communities.”

But in order to actually become an organization on Tech’s campus, they not only needed member to help mentor, but also they needed a school with students to mentor.

“We work predominately with Cristo Rey and the EXCEL program here at Tech,” Pittard said. “Next year, we hope to expand to Grady High School, among other public schools. The biggest problem we have faced … was resistance from the schools. They’re more concerned with other things.”

Recruiting students from Tech has been the easiest part so far.

“I get emails on a regular basis from students who find us on Jacketpages, moreso than any other organizations I’ve been involved in,” Pittard said.

Applications for next fall’s set of mentors will be available soon on the Moneythink GT Facebook page for students who wish to better the youth of Atlanta.

Pittard’s favorite quote, an excerpt from the Epistle Dedicatory to Arthur Bingham Walkley in George Bernard Shaw’s 1903 work “Man and Superman,” sums up Missy: “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”

Correction: April 4, 2016
A previous version of this article incorrectly stylized Moneythink as MoneyThink.

A previous version stated that Moneythink was only operating in Chicago when the Georgia Tech chapter was formed. Moneythink was actually operating in 13 states when the Georgia Tech Chapter was formed.