Kids Who Bank is founded by Jatali Bellanton, a British black woman that saw the need for children to learn about financial literacy from a young age. Since starting, they’ve held their program in over 140 schools in California, New Jersey, NYC, Yonker, and Florida.

What is “Kids Who Bank”?

Kids Who Bank is a youth financial literacy initiative who aims to create a diverse platform which not only simplifies the finance & entrepreneurial worlds for youth & adults alike but also shines a light on the power of representation! We’ve created the Succes Talks Q&A panels, the Kidpreneur book series, and our finance curriculum.  

How old was your son when you created this program and what struck a cord that schools needed this?

My son was only a few months old when I started truly writing my first youth financial literacy book. I say truly because I had a bunch of notes scattered about in regards to what I would put into a book if I ever wrote one which served as the base. My first financial literacy book wants vs needs was released when my son was 20months old and then the finance curriculum started to go into schools when he was in the early ages of being 2 years. 

I knew schools needed this because I met so many adults who struggled with budgeting and understanding concepts like compounding interest, wants vs needs, depreciation,  etc…I am a firm believer that if we make it second nature from young then as adults those youth will practice better habits.

What did you find that needed to be changed in the school system?

I feel as though there are a lot of people who are the decision makers but do not see the genius of their own children. For instance, I have been told by many decision makers that they did not think their kids could learn financial literacy because they are reading below their age level. In my experience, we start youth – as young as 2yrs old – so I know they are wrong. The mindset of the decision makers need to be changed.

As a full-time entrepreneur, how do you juggle motherhood?

Recently a woman told me that it is inspiring to have watched me build an empire with my son on my hip. I never thought about it, it was not an option for me to have to pick between my passion and being a hands-on mom who could be there for many of my son’s firsts. In fact on my social media or if you have been at a location where I have spoken, do a workshop, keynote, etc… regardless of where in the world I am my son is 9/10 times present.  I am a hands-on mom who had to choose from. Although it is difficult at times, I juggle it all by setting my standards and making sure anything I choose to do aligns with my goals future and present.

What are the KidPreneur Awards?

The Kidpreneur Awards Gala is an annual gala bringing recognition to youth who are entrepreneurs/philanthropists and the adults who are creating ladders for them.

The first event was held on April 29th, 2018 at the Jerry Orbach Theater located in Times Square, NYC and was met with a packed house of 248 attendees. Some of the dynamic honorees who left people inspired were, for example, a seven yr. Old who’s tutu clothing line is in multiple boutiques around the USA, an eleven yr. old who donates comfort items to homeless ppl around California or a six yr. old who created his own science-based cartoons on YouTube.

This year’s event was held on April 7th, 2019 at the SVA Theatre, we had a footfall of 480 attendees who have an amazing lineup of youth and adults like the mini real estate moguls known by Jr Flip Kids and the Co-founder of Fubu: J. Alexander Martin.

How has “Kids Who Bank?” impacted your life?

It has given me my purpose and helped me to blossom into a strong leader. I used to be slightly introverted and shy when it came to public forums but I had a turning point of a friend asking me what is more important… my fear of talking in front of a large crowd or my desire to ensure all youth learn at least a base in financial literacy? Since that day I have pushed myself to not allow fear to cripple me. To date, I have now impacted 10k youth around the USA.

What are your goals?

Our main goals are:

We aim to have financial literacy become a curriculum base for all schools. Public, private, charter, etc… it could be a certain amount of hours per semester to ensure that they at least they were able to learn fundamentals not just a once a year class.

Having sponsors to cover class expenses so we can conduct our finance curriculum and programs in more schools who lack the funding to receive these lessons.

All images by Shareif Z