Innovative campaign helps alienated teens learn about personal finance

Statistics show that more than three in four young people feel they don't know enough about personal finance.

Statistics show that more than three in four young people feel they don't know enough about personal finance.

Considering the average college graduate carries more than $26,000 in student debt, the rising costs of education are a huge concern for this generation.

Traditional forms of financial education are not working. For the small percentage who do get the info, it's typically presented in a way that does not resonate with young people. Financial education programs primarily focus on adult-led conversations, which immediately alienate young people.

DoSomething.org and H&R Block teamed up this spring to launch three relevant and fun financial education campaigns that were unique, peer-led, and used the right tone.

The campaigns were: Craziest Thing I Did to Save Money, a Facebook-connected experience that encouraged teens to upload stories about the crazy things they have done to save money, while giving tips on how to save a little smarter.

The second was Would You Rather?, a text-based game, where teens choose between ridiculous money-saving situations that eventually led to real-life, money-saving tips, and finally, Mind on my Money & Money on my Mind, three teen-led personal finance workshops. These guides were not pulled from textbooks. Each contained pop-culture references and fun activities to help teens absorb the information in a way that seemed more “them” than “us.”

We teamed with LA hip-hop quartet Far East Movement to create a humorous PSA we shared with broadcast partners such as Channel One News. AOL donated a one-day takeover of Craziest Thing I Did to Save Money on its sign-in page, which reaches more than 10 million people each day.

We utilized SMS to broadcast to our mobile members and shared the best content submissions across social media.

More than 95,000 young people took part, exceeding our goal by 10,000. We received more than 410 million media impressions, far surpassing our original goal of 100 million. The organizers gave out more than $30,000 in scholarships to participants.

Why did it work? The public realizes young people need more financial education, but the current approach is not effective. Our campaigns served as a new angle for press outlets. They saw how we took a jargon-ridden issue and made it easily digestible for young people.

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