Mosaic Community Essays

—Marcy Reyes
Latinx
Providence, Rhode Island

My Extraordinary Life: Growing up in Pawtucket

The Public’s Radio’s podcast on immigration, Mosaic, has a series of community essays. This one is by Marcy Reyes. She writes about her goal to end generational poverty in BIPOC communities in Rhode Island. 

When I asked about money when I was a little girl, my parents told me to stop asking questions. It was none of my business. In the Latino culture, adults handled the money – children kept quiet.

The silence led to costly mistakes. Because I was never allowed to talk about money, I ended up making a lot of financial mistakes. I overspent, had a disregard for savings, never thought about putting money away and I built up credit card debt.

The silence also proved to be a blessing. It led me to a career in finance and a mission to educate youth in BIPOC communities about the importance of fiscal responsibility. 

With very little resources I put myself through Rhode Island College, which is where I took my first finance class and found my passion. I ended up with my master’s degree in finance from Northeastern University.

I had a passion for finance and a passion for helping others. I didn’t want others to make the financial mistakes I made. 

Less than 8% of Rhode Island high school students currently receive financial literacy education. Of these students, approximately 90% are white.

Understanding firsthand the challenges youth in BIPOC communities face, I founded The Financial Literacy Youth Initiative. Also known as FLY. This non-profit provides culturally responsive financial literacy programming to underserved and underrepresented students. My goal is to implement FLY in all Rhode Island high schools to empower BIPOC youth with knowledge, skills and experiences to end generational poverty. 

I look at personal finance as a social justice issue. Individuals should have access to financial literacy resources regardless of race, ethnicity, or socio-economic background. By providing youth with the knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively, we are giving them the opportunity of a lifetime of financial well-being.

FLY provides free programming, lectures, and seminars to youth and young adults statewide. As Rhode Island’s first and only Latina Accredited Financial Counselor by the AFCPE I focus on the psychology of wealth to address the behaviors and attitudes that lead to successful financial outcomes.

My goal is to not only equip students with the tools they need to change their financial and socio-economic future but also allow parents to engage and offer them real life experience so when they venture into the world, they are already doing it, second nature. It’s not just conceptual, they are actively engaged in money management. 

One of my students who completed FLY in January 2021 said, “FLY is a class that all schools need. These are true life lessons that will help bridge the gap.”  

With the newly passed legislation last June that will require Rhode Island public schools to provide financial literacy education by 2022-23 academic year, the importance of financial literacy is now at the forefront of education and more important than ever.

The FLY Initiative has currently served more than 1,000 students in Rhode Island.  With support from the Papitto Opportunity Connection, I can expand FLY and am on track to serve 7,000 students in Rhode Island by 2024.

Financial literacy is the key to a successful future. Financial literacy will empower RI BIPOC individuals with knowledge, skills and resources needed to end generational poverty. Having access to educational and professional financial resources will result in opportunities that would not typically be offered to BIPOC individuals.

Financial Literacy is the key to a successful future.

To learn more about Mosaic’s community essays and submit your own essay, visit mosaicpodcast.org.

Jon Lavieri
Sean O’Connor

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