Young money: School teaches kids the value of a dollar

Young money
Young money   

According to a 2012 report by ad firm Digitas, children between the ages of 6 and 12 have more than $1 trillion in buying power—a figure that combines what they spend on themselves and what they influence their parents to buy for them. Still, surveys suggest that many kids lack the knowledge to make informed decisions about how to spend and save.

Enter World of Money, a New York City-based non-profit that immerses urban consumers of tomorrow with a curriculum steeped in finance and technology. The group calls their students moguls, enforces a business casual dress code, and teaches them everything from commodities, mutual funds—and Mandarin Chinese.

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The students, many from under-privileged backgrounds, are pulled from a range of schools across the metropolitan New York area. Sabrina Lamb, World of Money's founder and CEO, sees the organization as a public service and the fulfillment of a dream.

"How different had my life had been if I received financial education as a child?" Lamb told CNBC in an interview. "We are determined that from the moment kids enter our doors, they understand the power of money and community service."

Preparing future moguls for life

financial literacy education
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According to a survey conducted by the College Savings Foundation, 38 percent of teens say that they are unsure or unprepared to manage their own banking and personal finances.

With that in mind, World of Money provides 40 classroom hours of financial education training to kids, helping them to master their spending and financial management habits. The organization has educated more than 3,000 children, many of them on scholarship, since it was founded in 2005.

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Lamb said that "World Of Money is available to kids of all backgrounds, but "we tend to attract Latino and African-American children, and so we teach them about things they aren't taught generationally, which is the topic of money."

She said the idea to create a money matters program for kids was an epiphany that stemmed from attending an adult financial workshop. It was there she realized children as well as adults need sharper financial management skills.

The organization sustains itself on a variety of individual, corporate and government contributions. Eventually, Lamb hopes to replicate the organization's program throughout schools across the country, and perhaps evolve into a charter school.

Attendees like Ciana Montero, a 17-year-old who has been a World of Money student for the past five years, learn about credit scores and household budgets.

Montero's favorite World of Money classes are Mandarin Chinese and computer programming.

China "largely dominates our economy and so you really have to be well versed in the language, their culture and what they value," she said. World of Money's curriculum is challenging, Montero said, but it helps to embrace financial education as early as possible.

She added: The organization is "definitely not a playground, but it's something that you need to know, and the sooner you get started, the better."

On the Money airs on CNBC Sundays at 7:30 pm, or check listings for air times in local markets.