Sen. Milton Potter wants children in the territory to develop good financial habits so he created “Wealthy Habits,” a program for 11- to 18-year-olds that he hopes will create a generation of Virgin Islands millionaires.
“It’s doable,” the lawmaker said.
In Wealthy Habits, students can learn smart financial habits, understand debt, the economy, credit and even earn $50 to put in an investment account.
Students can register on the senator’s website. Registration is open now and the online class begins on June 14.
“When I went to college many moons ago, I remember getting off the rock, getting to the mainland, not knowing anything about budgeting, credit cards, not knowing about credit scores, the importance of having a good credit score and credit history, and how that all will catch up to you if you’re negligent in that arena,” Potter said.
Children on St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Water Island and even the mainland can participate in the program because it is virtual. Potter estimated students can complete the self-paced program in six weeks if they do a little bit daily.
“Because of COVID, having it virtual we thought was important. That way there would be no excuses about people feeling uncomfortable,” Potter said.
The senator teamed up with the Jonathan D. Rosen Family Foundation for the financial literacy program. He said they were cost-efficient and included wide-ranging information regarding financial literacy.
Potter chose the Rosen Family Foundation’s program because he said he was looking for, “Something that’s comprehensive, something that’s going to keep the interest of young people between the ages of 11 and 18. [The program] can’t be something that’s dull or boring, and it can’t be something that’s costly either.”
Cost was another factor in choosing the Rosen Family Foundation.
“We saw a number of them [other financial literacy programs] on the national level. But what impeded us from going with some of them was the cost. We’re talking about thousands of dollars, potentially for each … It would just defeat the whole purpose, we wanted it to be in reach for regular Virgin Islanders who probably, normally, wouldn’t have been exposed to these types of academic programs.”
“It’s about really understanding the concepts,” said Clinton Stapleton, who is Potter’s policy advisor and strategic director.
The Rosen Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower children and adults across the socioeconomic spectrum with the knowledge and skills essential for successful financial decision-making.
Participants can enter the promotional code POTTER when registering for the program to receive half off the $120 fee. Sen. Potter joked, “You can’t even buy a pair of Nikes for $60.”
In addition, Potter said, there’s “a built-in opportunity to earn an investment account, if you complete all four modules … $50 that you can invest.”
However, the investment money is not earned by being laid back.
“We don’t want them [participants] to feel it’s a shortcut,” Stapleton said. “The senator said he wants to build a generation of millionaires. You have to understand there’s a certain amount of work you have to put in. It’s not just playing the lottery … They have to apply themselves.”
Stapleton said the program is filled with quizzes and participants must earn an overall score of 500 to get the investment funds. Also, each child would have to register with their own account to participate for a chance to earn the investment money.
Potter said the Wealthy Habits program can accommodate as many people as are willing to sign up.