Moneythink

Paving the Road to Prosperity
"I don’t know where I would be without [Moneythink]... There were a lot of things that I didn't know I needed to know. And a lot of things I don’t know how I would have found out about without Moneythink bringing it to my attention… [I was] struggling constantly thinking “I might not go to college,” which was something that I hated because I had a plan to go to graduate school, so if I didn’t go to college I wouldn’t know what to do next. Now I feel a lot better and a lot more secure, and because of the experience that I faced, even though I have been proactive, I am going to try to be 10x more proactive so it doesn’t happen again.”
– Jose Menjivar, Moneythink Student

Only one-in-ten low-income students can expect to earn a bachelors degree in 4-6 years. However, every year, approximately five million low-income, high-achieving students across the United States drop out of college. Four million of those drop out due to financial concerns of less than $1,500 in expenses. Often, these students are the first in their family to go to college and can’t always rely on their parents for guidance through the process of financial aid, choice of school, orientation, and more.

For many Americans, aspirations of college bring many financial concerns and stress. When students have to deal with financial stress, on top of studying for exams, working an extra job, and trying to manage a social life, it can be entirely overwhelming. As a result, financial stress leads many students, no matter how motivated they are, to drop out.

The Solution

Moneythink believes that providing reliable guidance through tough financial and college decisions to students interested in higher education is the best way to ensure they stay in school and succeed. With an unprecedented model, Moneythink meets students where they are to provide the most effective resources and guidance with the highest potential for impact.

When students are navigating the FAFSA process, choosing between scholarship opportunities, or even just organizing required health forms to send to the school, Moneythink is available right at a student’s fingertips to answer questions and demystify the college process. Their unique program model is based on behavioral science with insights on when and how to prevent financial stressors from escalating. The text message based remote coaching approach allows participants to adopt healthy habits, manage finances, and prepare for their college experience. Moneythink walks alongside students in high school, leading up to college, and throughout their freshman year, helping to connect them to the best support and local resources available to keep them on the path to graduation.

The Story

In 2009, Moneythink CEO and founder Ted Gonder—recognizing the vast disparities in incomes between the affluent and poor, particularly in communities of color—decided that he could mobilize campus resources and provide mentorship to assist at-risk youth in overcoming financial difficulty. What began as a relationship-based volunteer program model that connected college mentors to high school students, evolved into what Moneythink is today: a national organization providing cost-free, reliable guidance to students navigating the maze of college enrollment and financial decisions. Knowing the benefits of technology as a means of social change, Moneythink has adapted a mobile communications model to reach more students in more cities, more effectively.

S+ Partnership

Moneythink is a 2017 S+ Catalyst. Through participation in the Catalyst Program, Moneythink receives training from industry experts in organizational development, branding, measurement and growth, and strategic relationships to amplify their impact and strategically expand their reach across the country.

Chicago, Illinois
est. 2009
Leadership
Ted Gonder
Co-founder and CEO
Read bio
Ted Gonder is the CEO and founder of Moneythink. In 2014, former President Obama appointed Ted to the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans. Prior to Moneythink, Ted served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Ted got his start in social entrepreneurship by founding the largest student climate change awareness network in California. Ted has also played an active role as a community builder, founding the World Economic Forum's Chicago Global Shapers Hub, as well as the University of Chicago Entrepreneurship Society. His work has been featured in MTV, WSJ, and Crain’s.
Success Metrics
25
Communities with a presence
2,000
College volunteers
14,000
Students financially mentored
65%
Students felt more prepared for financial independence
20%
Of Unbanked students opened a checking account
62%
Were more aware of the dangers of credit card debt
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