“I’m proud to be part of the founding class at KIPP Academy of Opportunity,” said Alana Herbert. “We started something new together and that fostered such a tight knit school community” — first class assignment, first math song, first end-of-year field trip to Washington D.C., first talent show, first community event, and much more. As part of the inaugural class, she watched the school develop and helped establish the KAO legacy as a place not only where learning was fun with high expectations, but also as a nurturing community space for self-discovery, culture, and support of one’s purpose with meaningful lifelong connections.
As Ms. Herbert reflected on the memories and all that has been accomplished with KIPP, she has not finished making her mark just yet. She is now a KIPP Through College (KTC) College Match Counselor. “For me, it’s been the real connections that keep me going and giving back to our community! When I was in college, I felt like I found myself — thanks to Lonneshia Webb, my KTC counselor at the time [current Interim Director of KIPP Through College]; she told me all the things I needed to hear,” she added. “My KTC counselor defined and fulfilled the words ‘KIPP Through College’ and I knew that I wanted to support many with that student experience to thrive.”
Specifically, part of the KTC support is to help students prepare for the cost of college. And Ms. Herbert said, “regardless of where you are and where you think you are financially in your journey, you can always start today! You can make a change. If you are unsatisfied, it won’t stay there. There’s help and it’s never too late!”
To assist, she shared some financial literacy tips for a sound financial future:
- Set a Budget: A budget is an estimated amount of income (incoming) and expenses (outgoing) for a given amount of time. “It may sound hard and restrictive, but you’ll be budgeting for the things that you value,” she said.
- Create Savings Goals: Having a savings account to fall back on in case of emergencies is important — thus, pay your bills, contribute to your savings, and then spend. Establish Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound (SMART) goals and hold yourself accountable. In addition to college, Ms. Herbert noted, “you should also plan for retirement well in advance. With time, you’ll be able to establish your long-term financial security.”
- Understand & Build Your Credit: Based on your credit report, your credit score “tells potential lenders how likely you are to pay back what you borrow.” This three-digit number can impact your financial life, from housing applications, landing a job, to buying a car, or even insurance premiums. That’s why Ms. Herbert stressed, “be careful with credit card debt; remember that there are fees and interest rates that you don’t want to rack up. Two great ways to build your credit are to make payments on time and not a day late — that really matters — and borrow only what’s needed.”
- Be Consistent: “Set a biweekly or monthly budget; take the time to find whatever works for you,” she said. “There may be some trial and error, but make sure to implement your lessons learned. The power and growth is in the consistency of doing your best.”
Even though general financial literacy is essential to us all, as of last year, only 21 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance. However, our KTC counselor believes that it’s never too early to learn. “There is a big racial gap in financial literacy,” she added.
On that note, Ms. Herbert recommends checking out the following books that kids, teenagers, and adults can enjoy, which range from covering basic financial concepts to attaining financial security and more:
- Kyng & Kyren's Generational Wealth Building Activity Book (elementary)
- Happy Birthday Mali More (elementary)
- How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Invest! Save! (elementary + middle)
- The Toothpaste Millionaire (middle school)
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich (high school + adults)
- Get Good With Money (high school + adults)
- Clever Girl Finance: Learn How Investing Works, Grow Your Money (high school + adults)
While thinking of community change, Ms. Herbert shared, “I want to help normalize financial literacy.” With that purpose, she started “The Wise Finances Podcast” (free on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon, iHeartRadio) and the @wisefinances_ Instagram account to empower BIPOC millennials through finances. “I’ve been through it all with my finances. I went from drowning in debt to a path towards financial freedom,” she expressed. “And, as I’ve been learning more about finances, I realized that it’s hard to find people that look like me in that space — and it’s time to change that.”
Ms. Herbert is bringing the financial literacy topic out of the shadows! She hopes to educate students on how to build a solid financial foundation for the future. With her great achievements, she concludes that “success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to speak your goals into existence. Embrace change. Be diligent. Really love what you do! Ask yourself empowering questions. Leverage your resources and never be afraid to seek help. Be a student of your craft! Everyone has the ability to be that entrepreneur. Do it for you!”
Interested in being part of the team? Our KIPP Through College team currently has open positions, learn more here.