Author: Libby Smith
May 7, 2021 at 6:00 pm
Filed Under: Denver News
DENVER (CBS4) – A survey of 150 Denver Public Schools alumni found that most of them wished they’d had financial literacy classes and more cultural and ethnic education during their K-12 experience.
“It would be really helpful if we could see ourselves reflected in the leadership. As you grow older, you start to learn about all the great people who’ve been leading in this city, for decades, right. And if we had just known that a little bit sooner, maybe we’d have had a little more confidence to step up and lead ourselves,” said TeRay Esquibel, a 2011 graduate of DPS.
Esquibel helped do the survey, and has since started an organization, Ednium: The Alumni Collective, which will help develop turn ideas into action. The group wants to make sure that every student who leaves the public school system has the knowledge, skills, and agency to define and achieve success.
“It’s not enough to just have a voice, we need to be at the implementation table,” Esquibel told CBS4.
Esquibel met with CBS4 at West Early College during a personal finance and economics class.
“I’m excited…you have no idea,” Equibel said about seeing the class underway.
At the same time that he was survey alumni, West Early College was hearing from its own students that they wanted to learn how to handle their finances. Social Studies teacher Daniel Walter is teaching the class, and working up the lesson plan.
“I’m kind of self-trained in all this stuff. I made a lot of mistakes in my own finances in my twenties,” Walter explained.
Most young adults can say the same thing, including Esquibel.
“In my case, it’s taking out a speedy cash loan and not really understanding the consequences of that,” he explained.
The new class is designed to provide students with the knowledge that will someday give them the power to access wealth.
“The purpose of this is that the gap in wealth in our country, income inequality, is a pretty major social justice issue of our time. And to not even educate the students that tend to come from the backgrounds that have the least when it comes to finances, are the very ones who are in most need of the knowledge about how the system works,” Walter said.
They’re learning about credit scores, credit reports, banking, credit cards, insurance, and they’re even trading stocks on an investor app.
“I’m currently in third place with 13-percent,” Esteban Escalante said of his gains on the investor app.
“It’s going to help me in the future to know what I’m doing, and not get stuck, more like my parents did,” said Rosey Garcia, a sophomore taking the class.
The DPS Board has said it will vote in June on whether to make financial literacy part of the requirements for graduation. It’s a move that Esquibel feels is an essential commitment to this kind of education.
“Every year we wait there’s about 5,000 DPS students graduating,” he said.