For this week’s edition of FinanciElle “Statements” I had the opportunity to interview Maura Cunningham, Founder & Executive Director of Rock The Street, Wall Street.
Rock The Street, Wall Street is a financial literacy program designed to spark the interest of high school girls into careers of finance.
As a woman, with a career in finance, this is a program after my own heart.
Paolina: Why is financial literacy so important for girls and women to learn, for themselves, and for the communities they are involved in or will be involved in?
Financial literacy is important for girls and women to learn for two major reasons—one is for their personal financial health and the other is spark their interest into careers of finance. Students who have participated in our workshops since 2013 have had an average increase of 97% in their comprehension of financial concepts. These skills help give them the confidence to manage their own money and possibly pursue lucrative careers they did not know existed.
Within our communities, we lose girls in math at age 9. One can draw a straight line from that age to where, later in life, two out of three women state they know little to nothing about finance. Rock The Street, Wall Street teaches high school students how saving, budgeting and investing can change their lives and their families for generations. In addition, educating females in finance develops work-forces that are larger, more diverse, and better equipped to help employers remain competitive.
Paolina: If you were to add an entrepreneurship section to the classroom workshops/financial projects component of the program, what are the key areas you would want to focus on and teach about business financial literacy?
Rock The Street, Wall Street programs provide financial literacy education to girls — giving them the hard and soft skills needed to become the financiers of their families as well as a Fortune 500 company or a company of their own tomorrow.
Our accessible learning activities invite intentional leadership role-playing and include hands-on financial projects requiring research and critical thinking. Female financial professionals and entrepreneurs teach and mentor students giving their own first-hand lessons learned and best practices. In addition, some of our past field trips have been to entrepreneur centers where students can glean the excitement, expertise and camaraderie that exists.
Paolina: What would you say to any girl or woman who thinks finance isn’t for them and what resources would you recommend for them to go to right now to learn more about the topic?
Women will never gain full equality if they don’t have financial equality. Being financially illiterate robs females of their freedom— the ability to provide for themselves, their families, and to fulfill their dreams.
To close the gender gap in earnings, savings and the financial services sector, we have to inspire girls to pursue the M in STEM, finance – by exposing them to real life role models. Visit Rock The Street, Wall Street for more information about our impact and visit our social media channels for resources to learn more about personal and professional finance.
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