March 23, 2015
Team(You) has a long and successful history of engaging students. Over 8,000 students have accumulated over 2 million points, and gained a sophisticated understanding of how their decisions impact their own lives. Team(You) is the web version of an innovative bank and incentive system used at the Bresee Foundation, an after school program in inner-city Los Angeles.
A student came up with the idea, born from a financial need.
Sheryl had $9 of the $21 she needed to go on the center’s annual field trip to Magic Mountain, a local amusement park.
“Why don’t you figure some way for me to earn that money?” she asked then-Executive Director Jeff Carr.
“How do you think we could do that?” he said.
“You could pay me to do that educational software in the computer lab, or for the mentoring hours,” Sheryl said. “You know, it could be like an airline award.”
And so they did.
The Incentive System Grows Up
This incentive system grew into a bank where the students deposited their incentive points, and then they added a series of classes that taught them how earning and spending points would be like it would be in their adult lives.
Bresee students who are now in their late 20’s, and who are also successful in their careers, report that the chance to earn points drew them in to attend the after-school program every day, and that the principles they learned have led them to good choices about money and about their life’s direction.
About the Author
Team(You) founder Cynthia Harrington, a leader in financial literacy with 30 years’ experience managing investment assets volunteered to create those classes. She wrote the lessons in conjunction with the Bresee students, taught the classes, and then prepared a teacher training so other volunteers could also step in to help.
Harrington is a nationally recognized expert in the emerging field of behavioral finance and neuroeconomics. This expertise in brain science of motivation formed the foundation of the formal lessons about their immersive experience in the token economy. In addition to mastering financial principles like cost/benefit analysis and time-value of money, the curriculum challenges students to think critically and to examine their own thought processes in making decisions.