In September 2010, the Alcoa Foundation awarded Urban Youth Action with a $15,000 grant for their Financial Literacy and Academic Enrichment program. Through this partnership and in collaboration with the National Association of Black Accountants, UYA has been providing high school students with the tools to navigate the financial market when they emerge into the “real world.”

At a culmination ceremony on May 25, the three partners saw the fruits of their labor when 11 students from North Side Urban Pathways Charter School received certificates for completing a semester-long program.


“It would not have been possible without the financial resources of the Alcoa foundation and the human resources of NABA and of course it would not have been possible without the students,” said Ruthie King, executive director, Urban Youth Action. “I think it’s so important because they get so caught up in their wants instead of their needs so we hope if they start early they will learn how to categorize their needs over their wants.”

Participants in this year’s program attended weekly one-hour sessions from February through May where they learned how to save and manage personal finances, open a savings account, and budget paychecks, allowances and gift money. Upon completion of a post-test, students will also receive a $100 savings bond.

“I’m grateful for this program,” said Diarra Clark. “This program taught me a lot. It definitely helped me a lot with knowing where I wanna go and knowing how to get there.”

“I learned how to budget,” said Shaylin Shackleford. “I learned how to pay for needs instead of wants.”

“What I have learned is to pay yourself always,” said David Stine. “When you’re in college how to pay for it and how to apply for credit cards and spend responsibly. I learned that you should always look at the interest rate and how to lease and buy things.”

PAY YOURSELF—Students from North Side Urban Pathways completed a semester of financial literacy. (Photos by Gail Manker)

As an additional component of the program, the students also received academic assistance in math, science, English and reading. They were connected with mentors from NABA who helped deliver the curriculum and served as role models.

“One of the things we promote is promoting financial literacy in the community,” said Taryn Lamot, NABA president.

At the culmination ceremony, the students heard from Alcoa employees who emphasized the importance of financial literacy for everyone in any career field.

“No matter what you do today, you must have some kind of financial acumen,” said Dale Perdue, assistant general council. “Keep your sights set on what you want to do. You can do it. I know Urban Youth Action will be the foundation for helping you get to where you want to go.”

They also offered a variety of career and education advice beginning with what the students should focus on in college and ending with how to sustain a career once they are employed.

“Alcoa did not have a lot of African-American employees in line with affirmative action so there were a lot of recruitment efforts in the 1980s. I was hired as part of that initiative,” said Lynne Ruff, global director, internal audit. “Although I started because of affirmative action, I’m here 22 years later because of me. I don’t want to say having doors open to people or opportunities are a bad thing; it’s just that, an opportunity. And it’s what you do with it.”

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