Earlier this month, I had the privilege of judging at the Enactus Regional Exposition in Western Canada. Alyssa from Mixed Up Money and I were invited to be part of the judging panel for the Capital One Financial Education Challenge, in which student groups from post-secondary education institutions across Canada present projects they created that use financial literacy to improve the livelihoods of people in their community.
Enactus is a community of student, academic, and business leaders that are committed to making the world a better place through entrepreneurship. They focus on empowering students to take entrepreneurial action to improve the lives of those around them. Enactus currently operates in 36 countries at over 1,700 post-secondary institutions. They host a series of regional, national and global competitions, which provide teams an opportunity to showcase the impact of their outreach projects.
About the Capital One Financial Education Challenge
The 2017 regional competition for Western Canada was hosted in my city, Calgary, Alberta, on March 2nd and 3rd. It consisted of four separate team-based competitions focused on financial education, environmental sustainability, youth empowerment, and entrepreneurship.
Both Alyssa and I were judges in the Capital One Financial Education Challenge, where student groups presented the unique and creative ways they were using financial literacy to empower people in their communities. The challenge is just one of the initiatives Capital One is involved with to help empower Canadians to make smart financial decisions.
We heard from 13 different Enactus teams, each with an innovative way of using financial literacy to improve the livelihoods of people in their community. Each team was judged on their ability to see an opportunity, take action through financial education or inclusion programming, and improve livelihoods in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable way. No two teams presented the same solution, and all of them showed both ingenuity and passion in making the world a better place.
Since 2012, the Capital One Financial Education Challenge has engaged 6,316 students across the country, resulting in 620 financial education outreach projects, and directly impacting the financial futures of 69,826 people. Their simple, sustainable solutions to big challenges result in lasting change, both in their communities and beyond.
The Impact of Financial Literacy
One of my favorite parts of the competition was seeing teams who focused on specific groups, such as at-risk youth or teen mothers. When we talk about financial literacy, we usually focus the conversation on people that already enjoy significant financial privilege. For example, if you have student loans, it means you had good credit and were able to attend a post-secondary institution. Likewise, if you’re trying to determine whether a TFSA or RRSP is better to save for retirement, it means you have money left over from each pay cheque to put towards long-term savings. We tend to forget that, for many people, the financial challenges they face in their day-to-day lives are things we never even think to worry about.
My favourite Capital One Financial Education Challenge project was Count on Me by the Enactus team from Simon Fraser University. These students recognized that many young people were spending too much of their income on cheap, nutritionally deficient take-out meals. Over the course of eight weeks, they taught workshops that shared both financial literacy and cooking skills to disadvantaged youths. The financial workshops included topics like Budgeting, Banking & Saving, and Income & Taxes. The cooking classes gave students hands-on experience in how to make delicious, healthy, affordable meals. The combination of financial savvy plus life skills made the Enactus SFU program stand out above the rest in the competition. I love that they addressed two significant problems at once.
Related Post: Achieving Financial Stability Through Entrepreneurship
The Enactus student teams that most impressed me were those that found solutions to uplift and empower people who need it the most, but all of the student teams did an extraordinary job. Not only were their projects creative and inspiring, they were all passionate young entrepreneurs and expert presenters. I loved seeing entrepreneurship in action to make a lasting difference in the world!
To say judging the Capital One Financial Education Challenge for Western Canada was inspirational is selling it short. The student groups showed just how significant the long-term impact of financial literacy can be.