Ready to “Adult”

Getting a high school education isn’t just about reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s also about “adulting”: learning how to do things like handle your finances and cultivate professional networks. That’s what our Isaacs Center GED students and the Learning to Work students at our partner, Goddard Riverside, did at twin events one day in late April.

It started in the morning with financial literacy training at the Isaacs Center. GED and pre-GED students paid close attention as young volunteers from Citi Financial Group walked them through the basics of handling money.

“How many of you know the general process for opening a checking or savings account?” asked Citi’s Emmanuel Ngbemeneh. Hands shot up around the room and students chimed in with answers like “ID” and “proof of address.” Ngbemeneh and fellow Citi volunteer Lacroix Scott went on to explore topics like interest and fees and FDIC backing. They tackled questions from the students like “How do you get a credit card?” And “How can you improve your credit score?”

“That’s the first step in your financial literacy journey,” Director of Engagement and Success Justina Sharrock of the Isaacs Center Education and Workforce program told the students as they wrapped up the session and headed to their regular classes.

That afternoon, staff at Goddard’s Learning to Work program hosted volunteers from Rockefeller Capital Management in a speed-networking event. Volunteers sat at individual tables while the students rotated, introducing themselves to a new person every 5 minutes. It took a little while for the students to get comfortable, but soon the room was buzzing with conversation, questions, and laughter.  

LTW student Quentin Arthur said he’d talked to the volunteers about their careers, professional advice, and his uncertainties about his plans. “One woman told me about how she changed her mind about going to law school,” he said. “We can change our paths anytime, but we have to make sure that we do it right.”

Learning to Work is embedded at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High, a transfer school for students who have faced challenges at other schools. The program helps young people reengage with school, overcome barriers to attendance and get their diplomas. Program Aide Ashley Vargas Ball helps the LTW students with job readiness through events like these. She enjoyed watching them gain confidence as they interacted with working adults.  

“These kids are special,” Vargas Ball explained. “They have inspirations and passions, and you can see it in them when they speak.”  

We’re grateful to the excellent volunteers at both events from Rockefeller Capital Management and Citi Financial Group!