In launching the Financial Literacy Summer Residential Program, Mark Moehlman – founding chair of UCI’s Center for Investment & Wealth Management – is fulfilling a long-ago pledge to his mother. Steve Zylius/ University Communications

Teaching teen girls money management

New financial literacy summer camp at UCI will aim to empower, entertain.

He was a teenager when his father died. His 48-year-old mother was left to raise three children and manage the family finances on her own. With no experience handling money, she found the latter task especially daunting and made her son pledge that if he could ever influence women’s education, he’d try to ensure their financial literacy.

Mark Moehlman, a principal at Wealth Management Network and founding chair of the Center for Investment & Wealth Management at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business, kept his promise.

He brought up a daughter who today is a successful financier and director of a New York City hedge fund. And this summer – with the help of interim CIWM executive director Melissa Beck, charter CIWM members and volunteers – Moehlman will launch the Financial Literacy Summer Residential Program at UCI.

“It’s important to understand that women control 60 percent of private, personal wealth in America,” he says. “What’s surprising is that to this day students receive no formal training in money management. In fact, many of those we’re targeting with this new camp will be the first in their families to go to college. I have a special place in my heart for the plight of our youth who don’t know how to handle money, and I’m thrilled this program is finally happening.”

The camp will initially recruit underprivileged female students entering eighth and ninth grade, provide a solid foundation in financial literacy and, ideally, foster a desire to attend college.

Beginning Sunday, Aug. 14, and running through Saturday, Aug. 20, the program will feature games and team-building activities; field trips to local businesses; and fun nights out at various campus activities. Classes and breakout sessions will address the following topics:

  • “Making the Most of Your Money”
  • “Good Debt, Bad Debt: Using Credit Wisely”
  • “Stocks & Bonds: What’s the Difference & What Does It Mean to Own Them?”
  • “Your Money: Keeping It Safe & Secure”
  • “Doing Good: The Responsibility of Paying It Forward”
  • “Healthy Habits: Creating the Right Relationship with Money”
  • “Consumer Awareness: The Influence of Advertising”
  • “College: What to Do Between Now & Then”
  • “Women in Business: Shattering the Glass Ceiling”

Students will live in campus housing and use Paul Merage School of Business classrooms. The week will culminate in a graduation ceremony, with participants’ families invited.

“The primary purpose of our program is to provide a foundation of financial knowledge while at the same time creating an enjoyable summer camp,” says Beck. “We want these girls to come away feeling excited about their experience, empowered by what they’ve learned and hopeful for the future.”

The planning committee has partnered with leading nonprofit organizations including Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, KidWorks and the Project HOPE School Foundation.

“Our goal is to have an inaugural class of 30 students from Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. The ideal candidate will have a minimum 3.0 GPA and have indicated some desire to attend college,” says Moehlman. “We’re starting with girls only. But our intent is to expand the program to include both boys and girls who can benefit from learning how to manage their money.”

While the actual cost per student exceeds $1,500 – including room, board and materials – full scholarships are available for all attendees. Efforts are currently under way to find additional camp sponsors. Those interested should contact Beck at 949-824-8470.

“Financial literacy is an extremely valuable asset for a woman of this generation to possess. It enables them to be economically secure and independent,” says Mary Garcia, program assistant and volunteer coordinator for the Project HOPE School Foundation.

“This camp will help girls understand that although they may not be in the best financial situation now, by making smart decisions, they could be in the future.”

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