Financial app Goalsetter recently announced its seed capital round of $3.9 million. The app, which hopes to address financial access gaps, has notable investors including NBA Stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, actors Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us”) and Ryan Bathe (“The First Wives Club”) along with philanthropist and entrepreneur Robert F. Smith. The Black-owned youth and family finance app aims to provide a next-generation, education-first banking experience for young Americans that will also work to close the financial literacy gap.
“Goalsetter is the only account that comes with financial literacy for kids — delivered through the pop-culture and memes that they already love,” Smith said in a post on his Instagram. “Let’s get every kid and teen in our country signed up to become the next generation of savers and investors, and not just consumers.”
Goalsetter Founder and CEO Tanya Van Court was formerly an executive at ESPN and Nickelodeon. Her lead role on the Goalsetter team marks not only a notable glass-ceiling broken by an African American female CEO, but also in a tech arena not often populated by women.
“As the only Black-woman owned fintech company focused on the kid’s fintech space, we know how critical early finance education is to all kids in our country, and to Black and Brown kids in particular,” Van Court said.
The Goalsetter app has a variety of features, including “Learn Before You Burn,” which allows parents to freeze teens’ and tweens’ debit cards if they haven’t taken their weekly financial literacy quizzes. With “Learn to Earn,” users can earn money for each quiz question they get correct. Goalsetter was featured as the Apple App of the Day and also released its Cashola Card, a U.S.-based debit card that includes financial literacy tools for teens and tweens.
Filling the Financial Literacy Gap
A TIAA Institute and Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center report identified a gap in personal finance knowledge between African-American adults and white adults. The study also demonstrated how increased financial literacy can lead to improved financial capability and practices that benefit even those with relatively low incomes, helping to close the racial gap in financial well-being.
Studies show that financial literacy education must start at a young age, with teens taking initiative to learn about personal finance, saving and investments. But, financial education itself isn’t enough to even the playing field; it must be coupled with the ability and access to practice what one has learned.
Only six states in the country require high school students to take at least one semester-long personal finance class before graduation. According to the Next Gen Personal Finance’s report on the 2018-19 school year, 1 in 6 U.S. high school students were required to take at least one standalone semester of personal finance for graduation. Meanwhile, a mere 3.9% of students from low-income schools (defined as one that has at least 75% of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch), were required to take a personal finance semester to graduate.
Recognizing and taking steps to close the racial wealth gap is crucial, and Smith has been a leading advocate on the national stage. Beyond financial literacy, you can read more about his work offering advice to business owners of color and securing access to PPP loans for small business owners of color to support African American communities.