History of FiAT

In July of 2014, FiAT (previously “Pay It Forward Bay Area”) hosted its first Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship Summer Camp program for youth. The program was supported by donations from parents, local business owners, the local clergy, and the primary benefactor was LFS Asset Management.

FiAT partnered with Junior Achievement to develop the one-week Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship Summer Camp, and the program was held at St. Matthew’s Ward Hall on El Camino Real in San Mateo.

It all started with an idea – to educate the youth of San Mateo about financial literacy. This idea turned into a vision, which led to a plan. The plan turned into a success by teaching more than 20 teenagers the importance of finance.

The program consisted of two parts: Financial Literacy, and Entrepreneurship. Students learned budgeting, taxes, capital market, cash management, and were taught how to apply their skills and interests to help them navigate toward a potential career or education path. The second part of the program focused on starting and running their own businesses. The sessions were interactive with activities, games, group projects and work books.

Throughout the week, guest speakers from the local business community came into the classroom. John Lau, the Managing Director of a Wealth Management Firm, shared a story of the Fox & Hedgehog, emphasizing the importance of maintaining focus in life. Jesse Robbins, an investment banker from the Cain Brothers, presented the students with a timeline on the development of a business from the idea stage to going public. On the last day, four business owners participated in a panel discussion with the students and answered questions about starting and running a business. Each speaker was able to connect real life stories with the materials being learned in class that day.

“What I learned in just a week, some adults still don’t know.”

The energy throughout the week was contagious. The students were engaged in every element presented. A recent poll by Sallie Mae found that “84-percent of high school students desire more financial education. Among 16 to 18-year-olds, 86-percent said they would rather learn about money management in the classroom than make financial mistakes in the real world, according to a 2011 survey by investment bank Charles Schwab.”

The success of the Financial Literacy & Entrepreneurship Summer Camp was measured by its evaluations and reactions; both ranked high in all categories. One student said “What I learned in just a week, some adults still don’t know.” Another student said “I had an unforgettable experience and met people that will live on in my life.” A number of students said “overall, great quality camp.”

Through Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship, FiAT is committed to restoring America’s Financial Independence-one student at a time.

Matthew Lau

Matthew Lau is responsible for creating the curriculum and facilitating the program for the week-long session, as well as helping to market and plan. He is a graduate from Santa Clara University pursuing a career in financial planning.