By ELSA O’DONNELL | Intern
Many people learn how to balance a checkbook and manage a budget too late, after they find themselves in deep financial trouble. Palisadian Luke Shuman is teaching teenagers across Los Angeles to start early and avoid the pitfalls.
Shuman, who attends Palisades Charter High School and will be a senior in the fall, founded Pali’s Financial Literacy Club with the goal to teach teenagers in underprivileged communities how to manage money.
Shuman’s organization was originally a stock market club, which he started in 2019, during his freshman year.
“At first, the goal was to teach Pali kids about the stock market, but then, we chose to go a different route and educate students from disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles who don’t have basic knowledge of finance at all,” the Marquez Knolls resident explained.
In December 2020, Shuman partnered with Bank of America to develop a curriculum for students at the El Nido Family Centers, which is based in Los Angeles and helps families in need, to further expand his club. Over the months, the Financial Literacy Club taught 47 students from 12 different high schools across LA about basic financial concepts.
Shuman worked alongside Ian Ishak, the vice president, Ari Blloshmi, who served as the secretary, and the 30 other Pali High students who are members of the club. Club members helped plan the curriculum, while Shuman, Ishak and Blloshmi delivered the content.
“Now that we have a successful session of the program under our belt, we look forward to extending the opportunity of teaching the program to Pali students in the fall,” Shuman said.
Because the club began during the pandemic, meetings with the students from the El Nido Family Centers have only been held over Zoom. The meetings started with a presentation on the unit of the week, such as credit and how to budget for college. They then transitioned to “Kahoot,” a game-based learning platform.
“It was hard,” Shuman said, “but we really tried to make meetings fun and engaging.”
The meetings concluded in breakout rooms. Each breakout room had one Bank of America representative, and a mixture of Pali High club members and students from the El Nido Family Centers.
“We did this so the students could interact more directly with each other and with the Pali kids, and they were able to ask the Bank of America reps questions,” Shuman explained.
Despite the movement to reopen after the pandemic, Shuman shared he believes the club will remain remote in the coming months.
“It’s a lot more convenient for the kids who live all over LA,” he said.
The club wrapped up its 2020-21 programming at the end of the school year, and on June 12, Shuman and the other club members hosted an event sponsored by Bank of America to pass out certificates and meet students they had been teaching virtually. The event was held at the El Nido Family Centers headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, and 35 students and several Bank of America representatives attended.
“We had pizza and snacks, and it was really fun because we got to meet these kids for the first time after 10 weeks of Zoom meetings,” Shuman said.
Performance sheets, which tracked the students’ weekly work, were also handed out to parents. To further help families, the club passed out necessities, such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer and school supplies.
In the future, Shuman shared plans to expand his club.
“We hope to create a network of financial literacy clubs at high schools across the country, and the clubs will train their members to teach financial literacy to kids in lower income areas near them,” he said. “Honestly, words can’t describe how rewarding this felt to be able to share my passion with other high school students and create a fun program. We got kids from Pali High and kids from all over the city, and that made a big impact.”
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