Episode 84

MARCH 8, 2023

Cristina Medina on Invest in Girls

In honor of International Women's Day, Steve sat down with Cristina Medina, Program Manager and head of Western Region & Program Expansion at Invest in Girls, to discuss the nonprofit's mission, impact, and plans for the future.

Steve Peacher: Hi everybody thanks for dialing into this episode of “Three in Five.” I'm Steve Peacher, President of SLC Management I'm really excited today to be joined by Christina Medina, who is with “Invest In Girls.” She's the program manager for national expansion. So, it's an organization that covers the whole country. Actually, I learned, started in Boston, where I am, and at SLC Management through our InvestHer we've gotten connected to “Invest In Girls.” And so it's really fun for me to be able to highlight that during this episode of “Three in Five.” So Cristina, thanks for taking a few minutes today.

Cristina Medina: Yeah, thanks, Steve, for having me today.

Steve Peacher: So let's just start at the high level. Talk about “Invest In Girls.” What is the organization all about? What's its mission? What does it do?

Cristina Medina: “Invest in Girls” is a nonprofit program through the “Council for Economic Education.” We are a program that focuses on delivering financial literacy, education, and career exploratory programs to high school girls.

Steve Peacher: And talk a bit about how this came to be. You know, you and I were speaking before we recorded this about kind of what it's often is the lack of education of basic financial concepts in the high school level, the junior high school level. How is this recognized as a deficit, especially for girls? And how to “Invest in Girls” come into existence?

Cristina Medina: So back in 2010, what our founder Dune Thorne, along with other professional female professionals in the finance industry, saw a need for more girls to have exposure to financial literacy skills and also to introduce those girls into careers in finance. And they started “Invest In Girls.” It was a very small team originally in the Boston area, and then it trickled from there and expanded and grew saw a lot of success, and Dune actually met Nan Morrison, the CEO for “Council for Economic Education,” and they merged over to CEE in 2019, further expanding, you know, our services for not only students but for educators across the nation. We have 11 active state councils that deliver financial literacy and economics training to master teachers.

Steve Peacher: So talk about some of the things that “Invest in Girls” has done, some of the successes it's had, and you know you mentioned earlier to me before we start record this about a program that Wellington has put in place here in Boston, which sounds really interesting. And what can organizations like an SLC Management do to further the “Invest in Girls” mission, so dive into the weeds a bit, I mean, what are some of the things that it's done and some of the neat things that are happening at “Invest In Girls?”

Cristina Medina: Well, some of the neat things that are happening right now is that we're gearing up for, April is our “Exploring Finance Bonanza.” That's what I like to call it. There’s about 3 sites that are hosted by our financial and university partners. CitiBank is hosting an ‘exploring finance’ program as well as the New Jersey City University, and that is our flagship program or module into the career access program. It is a one week intensive study of various careers in finance. Very exciting, we actually hosted our first one last year at Citi, and it was so successful that others were, you know, interested in hosting as well. Wellington just finished their week ‘exploring finance’ module in the Boston area. So we're pretty excited about that, and just seeing the growth in the interest from our financial partner firms. Back when we first created ‘exploring finance’ IIG first created ‘exploring finance.’ It was set to launch in March of 2020, and we all know what was happening then, all the school shut down and so it you know it's really disappointing to see that delayed. But we’re able to kick start that in 2021, and we're only going to see the growth of that program for financial partner firms.

Steve Peacher: If a girl signs up for this week long module, what's the time commitment? Are they it after school or is it during, you know, how many hours are they involved during that week? It sounds pretty intensive.

Cristina Medina: It is pretty intensive, but our students that partake in ‘exploring finance’ module, they're really motivated to take the program. We offer ‘exploring finance’ during mid-winter break a summer break where they're not competing with extracurricular activities.  We also sometimes offer a student stipend to cover students who may be pulled away from their work, the paid work, so that they could attend this module and gain the skills that they need, in you know, in the professional world.

Steve Peacher: So, as I mentioned you, I like to kind of personalize these questions at the end of a session. And so I know you were a teacher early in your career, and then you got in “Invest in Girls” just over a year ago. How did you connect with it? Why was it interesting to you to join, and you know, and in the role of your own?

Cristina Medina: Well, I was a middle school English teacher. That is the core of what I did for many years and then I was part of the great resignation of teachers last year during the second wave. And really I just wanted to return to my passion, my first passion that's advocating for young women and females in education. And then I found “Invest in Girls” and “Invest in Girls”, you know, works on very granular pieces in education but for a big impact. And I’m really excited to be part of the team I get to work on curriculum. I get to work with students in many ways that I did while I was teaching. But, you know, I’m serving a greater mission that I appreciate.

Steve Peacher: Well, I know we're really proud to be connected with “Invest in Girls” through at SLC Management through our InvestHer organization internally, which is actually a great mix, I mean it's a InvestHer is something that was organically developed inside of SunLife by a couple of women who are investment professionals, and it's blossomed into something very broad, and it's so it's a perfect connection to be connected with the program like “Invest in Girls” which is trying to bring this industry and certain foundational concepts to girls at a young age. So we're very excited about it, and I really appreciate you taking a few minutes to talk to everybody who's dialed in about “Invest In Girls.” So, Christina, thank you very much.

Cristina Medina: Thank you, Steve.

Steve Peacher: And thanks to everybody for listening into this episode of “Three in Five.”


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