From the onset of Youthful Savings, and its subsidiaries, The Learning Marketplace and the Youthful Savings Marketplace, the vision has been to help develop socioeconomic empowerment and ethical leadership in our youth. The “3 C’s”—Compassion, Collaboration, and Contribution—are a fundamental part of the roadmap.
In a world with almost 8 billion people, our capacity to connect, care for one another, and contribute to our ecosystems is essential to the future of humanity. On an individual level, now more than ever, they are the building blocks of a happy and fulfilling life.
Through The Learning Marketplace and Youthful Savings Marketplace, many youth have been guided and inspired to become entrepreneurs, mainstream their products and services, and participate in a caring and creative community. In the process, there are ongoing opportunities to practice and embody these values that will help shape a positive future for us all.
Compassion—for oneself, as well as for others, is a cornerstone of all Youthful Savings programs. Many people grapple with feeling not good enough, alone, isolated, without purpose—especially, young people—which the pandemic has only compounded. Youthful Savings puts a lot of emphasis on physical and mental well-being, making sure everyone feels safe, respected, cared for. We’re there for one another.
Learning how real-life business operates, exploring new possibilities, crafting a vision, actually turning ideas into real products and services that people pay money for and enjoy, has generated a lot of enthusiasm, confidence, and sense of purpose among us.
To highlight some of the benefits, one of our Youthful Savings vendors shared how launching and operating his own business during this challenging but opportunity-rich time helped him break some barriers.
“As a teenager, I have struggled with my mental health at difficult times — not knowing whether to categorize it as depression or just a phase. In a state of isolation and emptiness, I chose to start a clothing brand, and it has brought me many moments of happiness, and moments of anger/nervousness/overthinking, pretty much every emotion, but I love every second of it. My brand is my best friend, and along with my objectives, I use as a source of positivity and progress.”Said Dylan Jones, high school student and founder of NYC-based NeverLookBack:
Collaboration is a key ingredient in the formula for success, and great preparation for today’s team-based business environment. Through Slack, a business communication platform, we’ve built a very active and engaged community of youth business owners, instructors, mentors, and outside partners. Our business owners, in New York and Los Angeles, regularly share tips, get feedback, and encourage one another to pursue our interests, and develop new friendships. We’re also learning valuable communication skills, including how to clearly articulate our ideas and goals, encourage constructive conflict, be authentic, as well as empathetic, in all our interactions.
Collaborating with mentors and outside partners provides invaluable information on past experience, present best practices, future trends. One exciting new opportunity is the recent partnership between Youthful Savings Foundation and OpenNode, an emerging player in the world of cryptocurrency, which allows youth vendors to grow their businesses through Bitcoin payments and donations. (See “Getting Bitcoin in the Hands of the Youth at Lightning Speed!”)
Ralph Liu, owner of two businesses, Roaring Flames and E-Tutor, said he was initially motivated to join Youthful Savings because of an interest in learning more about finance as well as raising money for college—and he’s well on his way to accomplishing both goals! In his words:
“I felt supported and encouraged to face my fears, embrace the moment and try new things. The Fresh Air Teen Academy Entrepreneurship Program, in partnership with Youthful Savings, challenged us to start our own business. We reviewed marketing, building a network, tracking customer data, and executing plans – a whole new world of finance opened up for me.”
Contribution is a very motivating force and high priority in the Youthful Savings Community. It’s happening in a variety of ways, tangible and intangible, short-term and long-term.
For example, sales tax is charged and collected on every sale, and in this way, every Youthful Savings business owner, who ranges in ages from 10 to 22, is generating tax revenue and contributing to the growth of the GDP. We’re also encouraged to buy from one another within the Youthful Savings community to show our support as well as to promote strong local economies.
People have long talked about the desire to have an impact, make a difference, but for Gen Z’s, there’s a determined drive to turn that impulse into action. Every youth participant in Youthful Savings entrepreneurship programs has talked about being motivated by the desire to learn and grow, to use any money they might earn to help finance college and/or help their families, to give back to their communities, to essentially lift people up, and make the world a better place for everyone.
Through our participation, we’re demonstrating to ourselves, as well as to others, that age, ethnicity, economic conditions, negative thinking, do not need to be a barrier. We’re doing it! And, we’re learning that true success is not about accumulating as much money and power for oneself as possible, which seems to have been the dominant attitude for so long; it’s about sharing these resources among many and using them in ethical ways. With the 3 C’s, we’re unstoppable!
This blog post was written by Abdulaziz Abdulrub, a 16-year-old business owner based in New York. Check out Change For America, an organization built on bringing change and awareness to America! Together, we can make this country a model of peace and opportunity.