Giving youth the knowledge and access to build wealth for themselves and future generations
In the United States, 20 million young people are earning their first paychecks. Many of them live in “financial deserts,” where a lack of access to financial tools, education, and quality banking institutions hinders their ability to build credit and save enough money for their future. As a result, too many young workers lose a portion of their income to check cashers who charge expensive fees. This makes it harder to start building wealth and break the cycle of poverty.
In 2007, Margaret Libby founded the San Francisco based organization MyPath to provide youth from low-income communities with the resources they need to achieve financial stability and economic inclusion. Libby has helped launch a number of innovative programs such as MyPath Savings, the first model in the nation designed for integration into youth employment programs, supporting young people to open bank accounts, set financial goals, practice saving and, in the process, develop financial decision-making skills and practices for a lifetime.
“MyPath is about empowering young people to take control of their finances while simultaneously creating opportunities for youth to participate in advocacy efforts aimed at expanding financial access for youth across California and the country,” said Libby.
Serving 6,500 youth each year, MyPath operates in 14 cities throughout the nation, including Los Angeles, Oakland, and Stockton. Additionally, 11 credit unions have adopted MyPath’s youth banking standards, and the organization is working with 90 youth workforce programs to integrate financial products and financial education and coaching services. Based on early success in the Bay Area, Libby is testing approaches to scale MyPath Credit, which provides participants with financial coaching and a year-long credit-building loan that allows them to demonstrate their ability to make consistent monthly payments. Early results show that participating youth boost their credit scores and confidence, and save an average of $500 in one year as they make payments on their loan.
As important as employment and income are, they are not enough. You cannot establish financial security and get ahead without savings and credit tools. It’s important to reach youth right as they are earning their first paycheck to position them on a path for building wealth.
Libby aims to leverage MyPath’s early successes into more bold and comprehensive services. First, she plans to build upon MyPath’s technology platform to create an ongoing engagement where youth can access vetted financial tools and products aimed at building savings and credit, as well as financial knowledge and confidence. Alongside the platform, Libby also aspires to provide youth with access to financial coaching for the first decade of their earning years, from ages 15 to 25, as these pivotal years can set the stage for a lifetime of financial success.
“As important as employment and income are, they are not enough. You cannot establish financial security and get ahead without savings and credit tools. It’s important to reach youth right as they are earning their first paycheck to position them on a path for building wealth.”
Primary Regions Served
MyPath is currently supporting two Universal Basic Income pilots for youth: one in the County of Santa Clara targeting foster youth and the other in San Francisco targeting young parents. The pilot projects provide financial mentoring supports, as well as a platform to engage youth in leadership roles to advocate for youth economic rights more broadly.
The written profile and video reflect the work of the leader(s) the year they received a Leadership Award. Please contact the leader(s) for current information.