GROWING UP GAVE ME MY WHY
I find most of the motivation that has driven me to found, operate and grow the Money Hub is rooted in my childhood. It has escalated from there.
My father immigrated to New York from Bangladesh in the late ‘80s. He brought my older siblings to the United States in the mid ’90s. My mom and I followed in the late 90s.
When he arrived, he didn’t really understand how the financial system worked. This lack of knowledge resulted in credit cards being maxed out. He did not fully grasp the importance of a credit score and how it could benefit his family. My mom, observing these mistakes first hand, learned and built her credit score up.
A POWERFUL HOPE
My dad works as a security guard and my mom as a cashier. They didn’t come to this country with much in the way of material goods. They came with a hope. Their hope was to provide their children with a better life.
LEARNING THROUGH TRIAL AND ERROR
They combined their dignified but modest work with a great saving habit, and an enthusiasm for learning. When it came to personal finance, credit and budgeting, most of their learning was through trial and error.
In 2007, gentrification took hold of my home neighborhood, Astoria, Queens. Rents skyrocketed. It became impossible to raise a family of 6. Plain and simple, we got priced out of our neighborhood.
But, there was a silver lining. The knowledge my mom gained learning about money management paid off. She used to improve her credit score. And our family was able to secure a home mortgage in Jamaica, Queens.
COMPOUNDING THE GOOD
I’ll never forget that feeling of finally having a home my family owned. It filled me with a sense of pride and a strong belief in the power of financial literacy to transform lives. I took these new found feelings directly into my high school, Brooklyn Tech.
There, I met kids from around the city who were from similar backgrounds as me, but from different places, races and religions. We all had a few things in common:
—Our parents were moderate to low income workers;
—We were all going through the NYC public school system; and
—None of us had been exposed to financial education.
Once I came to this realization, I wanted to do something to address the lack of financial literacy among people who I had a lot in common with.
FORMING A TEAM AND TRIBE
After starting college at The City College of New York in Harlem, I found my team of others who wanted to contribute their skill sets implementing my vision of addressing this widespread problem. Our solution was to conduct financial literacy workshops where college students taught teens about money using easy to understand examples. We felt having teachers being close in age, who shared and have navigated through similar circumstances, might provide advantages and positive results for students.
A HAPPY DAY
In 2015, I submitted our vision and strategy to the Colin Powell Community Engagement fellowship. They approved our application and provided us funds to get started.
EXECUTING THE MISSION
I went to work. I brought the team together. We created a curriculum. And, we started building partnerships with youth serving organizations.
Our first partner was Brotherhood/Sister Sol in Harlem. We started preparing and educating first generation college bound seniors to handle their finances in college.
We grew from there. We expanded to high schools in the Bronx and uptown Manhattan. We added the Boys and Girls Club of Queens, Brooklyn College, Far Rockaway and Brownsville.
JUST LIKE MOM
Just like my mom, along the way we have been learning. Much of what we have learned has been from the kids we serve. So, we have simplified topics, gamified, created competitions and added rewards for learning.
I am happy to share the Money Hub NYC team has been able to make a contribution to a topic that could not be more important to kids, families, and their futures, right now in the thick of these tumultuous times.
Discover more about Mohammed Faisal and Money Hub NYC:
Check out his contribution and thinking to Sammy Rabbit’s Teen, College and Young Adult Financial Literacy Discussion Panel #1.