Calgary non-profit agency teaches financial literacy for youth

Momentum, the agency that works with low-income Calgarians of all ages, are offering a program for young people that aims to educate them about money.

Its called the Youth Fair Gains program and it's a chance for 16 to 21-year-olds to learn finance fundamentals.

"(It's) a great opportunity for young people to learn a really solid financial foundation and earn some money along the way," said Carolyn Davis, the community engagement director at Momentum.

It's a free nine month program where participants are in class twice a month. They learn about financial basics like budgeting, credit, how the banking system works and what assets are.

Since the program was introduced, it's seen 600 graduates.

"Imagine you're 16," said Davis. "You've just got your first paycheck from your part-time job and you're walking through the mall and there's offers for free phones, and instant credit card signup. Our program gives young people the tools to think critically when they walk through those types of environments to make better-lasting decisions that are going to set them up for their future."

The program has a matched savings component for participants to help them save for tuition, textbooks or tools to start their own business. If they're able to save $50 dollars a month for nine months that totals $450.

The program will match the money saved four to one. So that's $1,800 of Momentum’s funds that results in a combined savings of $2,250 towards their future.

"Many young people will say I came for the match, it looks like free money, I thought I would give this a try and I'm grateful for that matching asset but I learned a lot that is going to help set me up for my future and I'm really grateful," said Davis.

Raegan Reiter is a graduate who came from a low income family.

"My parents weren't the best with money," said Reiter. "They had me when they were 17-years-old so they didn't have a lot of time to figure that stuff out themselves so I didn't learn too much from them."

Reiter says before the course she made a bad credit decision that cost her $1,000. Now she's equipped with tools to help her not to make those same mistakes. She used the money she earned from the course to fund her post secondary education and a laptop for school. Reiter liked learning about taxes and financial investments through the program.

"Someone came in and kind of explained like the different types of investments and I just recently set up TFSA and RRSP," said Reiter. "I was actually able to have a conversation with my financial advisor because I knew some of the stuff that she was trying to explain to me."

Now the 24-year-old is a group home social worker dealing with teens.

"Youth have so much potential," said Reiter. "The most potential out of all of us so it would be great to be able to influence their lives in a positive way, the way mine was when I took the program."

The next Youth Fair Gains program begins in January 2022 and has spots open. Learn more about it here: www.momentum.org