In a recent Science of Leadership article, we explored the ROI of attending college. It's clear that finishing college statistically sets students up for higher earnings later in life. But the skills they learn in college are often not the ones that carry them through their careers, leaving a skills gap that The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) fills.
Another topic easily overlooked during one's college experience is financial literacy. Studies have shown that personal financial education is missing in schools, even though it's an important aspect in life and success.
To help rectify this problem, the DeVry University-Southeast chapter partnered with The Child Poverty Action Group to create a free, online financial literacy resource for everyone on their website Dollars and Sense 101, delivering important information through easy-to-understand videos.
The Five Key Financial Topics
Chapter Advisor Lindsay Taylor, and the rest of the DeVry University-Southeast chapter, were inspired by the work of The Child Poverty Action Group, which works with the government to create laws in an effort to reduce child poverty by half over the next decade.
"We saw an opportunity for our chapter to create a training that would allow us to share our financial knowledge with those who may not have gained that knowledge prior to graduating high school," Lindsay says.
They started working on the project last year and laid out five key topics that would have the greatest impact on their community.
"As a chapter that covers the entire southeast region, from Maryland to Florida, we have members that reside in many cities where people are living at or below the poverty line."
With financial advisors and other money management resources out of reach, they stepped up by creating a free educational outlet on personal finance.
"This free course we put together can provide communities with the opportunity to further their financial literacy to gain knowledge on how to improve their financial situations."
"We saw these pillars as the main components in anyone's life that can impact their overall financial well-being."
They partnered with another honor society with a business focus to aid in the financial pillar, and utilized many aspects of the NSLS leadership development program.
“We took concepts from the original NSLS Leadership training like finding your purpose and then matching that to choosing a major. Making sure that it's worth the investment and how to choose the college that's right for the individual.”
For healthcare, which is notoriously complex in the US, they focus on providing information on medical debt, bills, and being your own advocate. The career section pulls heavily from the NSLS, focusing on creating a resume that stands out, building a professional network, utilizing LinkedIn, and understanding interviewing skills and techniques.
The cost of higher education is another major topic and their site covers many aspects of this issue, including when it's best to go to college and what to study from a financial standpoint.
Visitors to the site also receive a baseline understanding of other key financial elements, including mortgages, renting vs. buying, credit scores, budgeting, managing debt, financial aid, and preparing for retirement.
"Our hope is for more people to know this is out there and that the content will be helpful for them to gain financial literacy and ultimately be able to live a better life."
Pairing Passion with Intent to Achieve Your Goals
Making a complex subject easy to understand is a challenge. Lindsay and her chapter took the challenge on for the greater good—living our mission and using their leadership skills to make a positive impact on the world.
Some of the strategic steps they took to accomplish this goal were:
Creating a project scope and outline.
Assembling a team of volunteers to deliver content.
Meeting regularly to collaborate and generate ideas as a team.
Working with their chapter's publicity chair to create the website.
"Creativity, patience, and active listening. Also reliability and strategic thinking were some of the top leadership skills necessary for achieving this project."
"Find something that your leadership team and members can be passionate about. You may find projects like this come out of other inspired actions."
She'd advise any other NSLS chapter to roll up their sleeves and seize opportunities.
"Leading the chapter through our community service project helped me see the impact that being a part of the NSLS can have."
She has also seen a positive impact on her own professional development by leading this chapter.
"On a professional note, it's allowed me to gain more experience in project management, human resource management, and operations management. Whether I’m overseeing community service projects, recruiting new E-Board members, or ensuring the chapter is able to reach its goals, I’m able to see the lasting impact that my expertise can bring to the table."
So, what's next for the DeVry University-Southeast chapter? They'll be keeping their community in mind and using their leadership skills to make a better world.
"We plan to continue staying involved with The Child Poverty Action Group. Continuing the advocacy work they ask for from their volunteers and searching for the next opportunity to be servant leaders in our communities."
Ultimately, Lindsay sees leadership as community-based. "Leadership means focusing on the community and the people you serve. Focusing on making a positive impact that can have a lasting effect is what leading is all about."
With the Dollars and Sense 101 financial literacy tool, they've done just that.
Hear Lindsay describe the process of bringing an accessible financial literacy tool to the community below:
Also, check out our deep dive into what financial success means in Wealth and Success: Exploring a Tricky Topic.