Central Coast Girl Scouts take Bank of America course
Girl Scouts across California’s Central Coast are pinning Money Manager badges onto their sashes after taking a nine-week financial literacy course prepared by the office of Bank of America serving Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Around 180 girls completed the course through classes on Zoom and accompanying worksheets. Bank of America and Girl Scouts staff taught the course and worked hard to ensure that it didn’t feel like school.
The material was catered to each stage of life for the girls so even young scouts could learn financial responsibility.
“It’s important to learn from an early age for people to really be able to live their life to the highest potential they can,” said Michelle Yee, senior vice president and Ventura/Santa Barbara market manager at Bank of America.
“We talked about assigning their dreams and what they want and their life goals and how financial literacy can impact that,” Ms. Yee told the News-Press.
Ms. Yee taught girls in grades 6-8. Many of them were interested in starting their own business, and she was able to advise them on how to budget for business as well as personal applications.
Lindsey Hatley, program manager lead for Girl Scouts Central Coast, said the girls will soon participate in the business of selling Girl Scout cookies.
“We are so thankful to Bank of America for offering this opportunity,” she told the News-Press. “We are just so glad they could learn the skills to get them ready for cookie season.”
The course taught enough skills for the girls to earn five badges. During the pandemic, it’s been harder for them to continue their meetings and fill up their sashes.
“With the current COVID guidelines, our groups are not allowed to meet in person. Everyone has had to pivot and reimagine how Girl Scouts can look in this time,” Ms. Hatley said.
Troops across the Central Coast joined together in these courses, allowing the participants to befriend scouts from all over the area.
“Girls often only get to be around people in their troops or service units,” she said. “That’s been one of the great things about this virtual world is that they are able to connect with people all over and really learn those lessons.”
At the beginning of the course, some participants were a little shy amidst the new faces. Instructors allowed them to participate to their comfort level, some with cameras turned off and just typing answers into the chat box.
“Often, once one girl started talking, the others felt comfortable joining and sharing too,” she said.
She tried to not mention the COVID-19 pandemic too much, as it is the center of many conversations nowadays.
“Just spending time with these girls gives me hope for humanity. You see how excited they are and how much potential (they have), and it was really gratifying working with them,” said Ms. Yee.
During one lesson, she was teaching savvy shopping tips. She used a two-pack of toothpaste to show that not every value pack is a better deal.
When the girls saw that the value pack of toothpaste was a little more than double the cost of a single tube, some were shocked.
It was a gratifying moment for Ms. Yee, and she hopes to continue working with Girl Scouts in the future.
“We want Girl Scouts to be prepared for life in general, and what they’re going to face in the real world,” Ms. Hatley said. “We talk about what us as staff didn’t learn in school, so we want them to be prepared when they hit the real world. It’s just a great skill for them to learn.”
Currently, the troops plan for one to two months at a time because of the evolving COVID-19 guidelines.
Troop members have continued their community service independently. They were encouraged to participate in the annual beach cleanup with their households.
To earn a special patch, some made masks to donate to hospitals.
“We’re just trying to be as flexible as possible for the girls and let them know that Girl Scouts is not going anywhere during this time,” Ms. Hatley said.