Ever since I posted my Yale acceptance on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, I’ve gotten so many questions about how I got in! To be frank, I’m just your average Bay Area student. The grades were there, I did research with my dad’s friend over at UC Berkeley last summer, and I played JV water polo. What sets me apart then? My commitment to community service.

You see, back in the spring of my junior year, the private college counselor my parents hired helped me realize there was something fundamentally wrong with my community: we weren’t teaching basic personal finance to kids in the first grade. We teach ABCs, 2+2, but what the hell is your kid gonna do if they don’t know how to write a check to pay for their piano lessons? I knew something needed to change, and Personal Finance 4 Kids (PF4K) was born.

From spring of junior year until winter of my senior year, I worked tirelessly for 1-2 hours each week (10-15 hours, according to my Common App) with my friends from Gunn High School, writing up lesson plans (“Learn how to lower your tax burden with Elmo!”) and reaching out to local community figures, like the mayor (my uncle) and the superintendent (my friend’s dad). We even got help from education researchers at Stanford (my mom and her coworkers) and a $1000 grant from Palo Alto’s economic development committee (chaired by my family friend).

A quick look at PF4K’s Instagram page (no posts since December 31st) will show you dozens of smiling little faces ready to take on any and all financial challenges, demonstrating our tremendous impact on marginalized students in my area (kids at my aunt’s private Montessori school).

Thanks to PF4K, I know no kid will ever grow up not knowing how to sign for purchases made on their parent’s credit card, pay employees under the table, or deal with debt or bankruptcy or whatever poor people deal with. One of our little economists is even leading the settlement negotiations for our copyright lawsuit with Sesame Street. To quote Big Bird, the children are our future, as long as they’re rich.

                                                                                                                 —S. Hakani