Educating Credit-Smart Youth

How can we help American students gain financial literacy to help solve the problems of student debt?
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Nearly half of all Americans are excluded from or have limited access to the banking and credit system, which disproportionately affects low-income students. The cycle of financial exclusion and lack of financial literacy programs for the nation’s underserved exacerbate poverty.

Tellingly, low-income students are less likely to go to college, and those who matriculate are less likely to graduate. Moreover, college costs have risen while federal aid has dropped, and for students in the bottom income quartile, average costs after all grant aid represents more than 80% of the average family income.


In this project, the team partnered with Credit Do, an NGO dedicated to educating school children in order to create a debt-free generation, to address the problem of financial illiteracy. Credit Do’s beliefs that education is the key to solving the problem of debt, and that students require a hands-on component in order to practice what they’re learning, served as guiding principles.

The team studied the ecosystem to understand how to influence it, unearthed insights about the key stakeholders, and most importantly, designed a platform prototype to help Credit Do continue to solve the problem of financial illiteracy at scale.


The team designed a platform to provide financial education and empowerment to schoolchildren. The key component of the platform was an online game, modeled after “The Sims,” where students work in teams to guide their character through different challenges, making decisions that have financial impact on their characters’ life.

This approach was designed to:

  • Create a fun and engaging way to teach financial literacy to children.
  • Help students experience the importance of making good financial decisions, despite being in a stage of life where they make little or no financial decisions of their own.
  • Deploy at a very large scale across geographic regions, removing the need for creating and delivering content multiple times.
  • Include members of the larger community to volunteer their time and motivate and guide the children.
  • Provide a “matching service” between NGOs that deliver the proposed solution to schools, and impact investors or philanthropists funding these NGOs.

The team’s research uncovered alignment of values between credit unions and Credit Do, the project partner. In their proposed solution, the team also provided the strategy and initial infrastructure requirements to run the program.

This project was generously supported and made possible with fiscal underwriting by PwC.

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