NGPF Podcast: Amanda Chin-Yee and Jessica Patel from the Singleton Foundation
The Singleton Foundation has a simple goal: To help give everyone the financial skills they need to better manage their lives and their businesses. Listen to this podcast to learn about the engaging resources they have developed including games and videos that you can bring to your classroom.
- Million Stories: An award-winning entertainment channel featuring original and bite-sized video content that break the taboo of talking about money with stories of real people and entrepreneurs hitting hard topics in relatable ways. Recommended shows to start with: Your Brain On Money, Adulting with Richard Sherman , Startup Kids, American Paycheck.
- Levyl Up: You will learn, do and achieve. This interactive platform takes the anxiety and stress out of finance with personalized and easy ways to grow confidence and knowledge about money through creating a series of small, healthy financial habits. This is a great tool to share with students so that they continue their financial education beyond your class. Check it out here: https://levylup.com/?referrer=ngpf
- Venture Valley: The e-sports style multiplayer video game allows students to learn to think like entrepreneurs, have fun problem-solving, and experience firsthand the thrill of starting and growing businesses. Start honing students' hustle today with hands-on digital resources aligned to ELA, Math, Business and Financial Literacy standards
Tim Ranzetta: Hey, it's me, Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of NextGen Personal Finance. Thank you for tuning in to this NGPF podcast. Today on the show, we're gonna hear from the dynamic duo of Amanda Chin-Yee and Jessica Patel. They work at the Singleton Foundation, which is an organization focused on improving financial literacy in this country.
They do it through entertainment, which we know this topic can be so dry sometimes. So their resources, I think are a must-have in all classrooms. They're gonna talk about their videos and video series. They're gonna talk about their game, Venture Valley, and they're also gonna talk about their exciting new initiatives.
So without further ado, Amanda Chin-Yee and Jessica Patel.
[00:00:47] Passion for Financial Literacy
Tim Ranzetta: So let's get started right away. I'll throw this out to Amanda and Jessica. Maybe talk a little bit about the mission of your foundation and you know, as many of our teachers are who are here, why you're so passionate about financial education?
Amanda Chin-Yee: Hi everybody. Nice to be here. My name is Amanda Chin-Yee. I'm Director of Partnerships for the Singleton Foundation. We are focused on financial literacy and entrepreneurship specifically. You know, we see that the two go hand in hand for economic mobility for people's lives.
A little bit about me personally. I know from my personal finance story is that especially, I'm an immigrant. I wasn't born or raised here, and came over here as an adult. I was the one going to school, having to fill out all of the FAFSA, all the paperwork, and hand mommy and say, "Hey, sign here." So I do understand the impact of what it takes, in terms of breaking those, you know, generational barriers and especially the roles that, youth play in their family's lives as well, so it's not just for the youth's, success, but also the family's success. And, that's a little bit about that.
At the foundation, we primarily have four initiatives. The first being our Entertainment Channel that we launched in July, 2020 at the heart of the pandemic. How we're different is that we center innovation. We are focused on meeting millennials and Gen Z, where they're at, and that is on their phones. So we value technology and entertainment. Those are at the helm of, our programs. So our first is Million Stories, the short form entertainment channel.
And the thing with the Million Stories is that it's first person stories. They're not actors. Actors, it's not a cartoon. We are entertainment first and bringing real stories in fun and energizing ways. So that's just a little bit about us.
So we have our own website and all of our content is on social media, on YouTube. All of our full episodes you can watch on YouTube and we understand that sometimes, you know, there are restrictions. So YouTube is usually the most friendly that you can embed within any curriculum.
And, you know, we've partnered with folks like Next Gen Person Finance, but also like Junior Achievement and all of those different organizations.
Tim Ranzetta: We're gonna come back to those resources, but I do want to hear from Jessica about both the product you're developing as well as a little bit about your, your passion for the mission of the Singleton Foundation.
Jessica Patel: Sure. So, I'm Jessica Patel. I'm head of Content and Learning here at Singleton. And you know, I had told Tim earlier, but for me, the whole idea with personal finance has been like a long-standing journey. I was a journalism student and a journalist for many years. I got into the personal finance arena by chance, originally working at BankRate and then later at the New York Times. And part of it, the real passion for me in finding this opportunity was the fact that here I would be at these very big elite places and you would find young individuals who would have no idea how to handle their money.
You know, they wouldn't know what a 401(k) was. They'd be invested in annuities. They would, instead of thinking about what they should be doing or the college debt they should be paying down, they would get a lot of anxiety and just say, well, I'm just gonna go to Greece with my friends cause I don't wanna think about these things.
And when you have individuals with, you know, six figure incomes or high five figure incomes in large cities who don't know how to manage their money. You think of the huge swath of the population countrywide in lesser areas that don't make as much and they were unable to handle their finances.
And so for me, having this opportunity at the Singleton Foundation, I saw that there was a place where we could go, where we could teach individuals in a different way, because I know what's out there. I've, I've seen it all. I've researched it all, and yeah, it's. It's great for SEO when you can have a 3000 word story on, on credit cards.
But if you're trying to teach somebody about credit cards and teach them, it's more than just, this is what a credit card is. Fill in the blank. If you know the answer it's not necessarily a quiz kind of scenario. And it's really in practice of using your money and understanding your finances on a day-to-day basis. And that's where that knowledge really comes in and building that confidence and that ability. So, we had used a previous learning platform that involved courses and involved learning. And it was good for what it was, right? It provided the opportunity to learn and to understand.
But when I started working at Singleton, I wanted there to be something more and I looked around to try to figure out what is missing? What is missing that's out there, that's not trying to take advantage of individuals, that's trying to monetize information, that's trying to sell you a credit card or get you to get in a personal loan.
So how do we get to a situation and what can I do to help people altruistically and provide them with something to actually create good monetary habits and learn really good information and help them understand what they are trying to do to create a better lives for themselves and for their families.
And so we created a product called Level Up. And Level Up is basically to be used as a supplement to a course curriculum. It's not a curriculum, it's not coursework, it's not quizzes, it's not having to go through it. It's very self-selected and self-guided information to allow you to choose what you want to learn about so that you can learn in a variety of ways from internal tos that are not on the TikTok platform, from YouTube videos or from regular videos, from articles to different kinds of learning in illustrations and pieces like that. And now as you would learn, you are then able to then create goals and so that the goals could then create habits. So if you wanna learn about starting an emergency fund and you don't know the first place to start, you can watch a quick video of like, here's how to do it. And then you can watch, you can read a quick article of like, here's what to do when you need to select a savings account, and how do you go into those different areas and then set that actual goal. Like, I want to set a savings account and I want to start saving this much a month.
And the other piece of that is also so many of the personal finance tropes that are out there are all about the old, the old adages of you have to save 20% from every paycheck, you have to put 20% down on a house, and it's not the case. And when you're trying to build confidence and instill confidence in young individuals, giving them that ultimatum of, you have to do this, you have to do that, especially in this day and age with the anxiety so high and all of these other issues, it leads to the inability to save for anything and the inability to strive for anything because it almost is setting 'em up for failure.
So Level Up has, has been created to set a place where we can meet them where they're at, and let them set small, attainable goals and let them learn incrementally in small areas that allow them to kind of build and grow as they learn.
[00:08:07] Having a Team with a Diverse Background
Amanda Chin-Yee: I think one of the big things too is that going to what Jessica said, I just wanted to add in here that it is supplemental to curriculum. Whether you're teaching a semester long course only, you only have two weeks to teach a course this is a tool, a platform that you can give your students that they can.
Interact with at any stage of their life, like after your course so that they can continue to learn about personal finance. Whether they graduate career or college ready, wherever they're gonna go next, they need to know all of these different topics about personal finance.
Tim Ranzetta: Oh, I love that. Talk a little bit about, I think there's real value when people outside of the personal finance world decide to go in and, and shake things up and really bring a new approach. You talked about this, Jessica, your background is a journalist, but I think the Singleton Foundation does pull people from outside of the realm where you would typically find personal finance folks. Can you talk a little bit about that background and I think what really gives you an edge?
Jessica Patel: Yeah, sure. And I think Amanda can also speak to this as well, but the exciting thing is the fact that we have an entire group of individuals, and especially with Million Stories, that when the Singletons decided to build this, they wanted to change that idea of how people learn about finance and they were focused on building it from an entertainment perspective.
Our entire team is comprised of former individuals who worked at Disney, who worked at the BBC, who have experience and a background in film and the entertainment industry, video gamers who built video games in the 90s and 2000s.
Tim Ranzetta: And you're constantly creating new content. I think we talked earlier, you said there's new videos coming out. Talk a little bit about those.
[00:09:53] Types of Videos Created
Amanda Chin-Yee: So it's a lots of new videos, new content told in different formats. So it could be you have like a host that then goes around on the street, kind of man on the street and like literally ask people, you know, like, Hey, do you know what a 401(k) is?
And you'll see people on the street, they'll respond very honestly. So, and that's how the video starts out so it lets down the guard of people watching the video being like, oh, okay, I'm not the only one that doesn't know what a 401(k) is. And then we'll bring on an expert to then explain what a 401(k) is in a very easy to understand method . And then we'll recap the video accordingly.
Or it could be a reality TV series that we actually filmed over a course of seven to eight months where literal real life couples signed up to discuss talking about like some addressing financial issues that were paired with a financial coach that then wrapped around their issues and came up with solutions and they worked together throughout the course of the time it was filming. People are already watching reality shows anyways.
It reminds me of like 90 day fiance in a sense, but it's like 90 day fiance tackles financial issues. So it's very capturing where there's that drama. It's real. So we do have a bunch of different shows like that. I also like to highlight too, especially student athletes. We have a couple of different partners actually that love or content because Richard Sherman, NFL superstar, actually co-hosts one of our shows, and it's called Adulting with Richard Sherman, where each episode is a different topic.
He tackles like insurance, buying your first car, moving out for the first time, like stuff like that. And it's really great because he gives a little personal anecdote to each story. Like he has a little personal story, whether it's him personally or a family member which I think is great because it really speaks to the ecosystem of the individual, their family and community.
So, there was a, there's an episode on payday loans and avoiding payday loans and the importance of that. And he actually spoke about a relative that had continuously went through that process and unfortunately, like continuously would be in more and more debt.
So it's just even that, like also looking at it from a community perspective, it might not necessarily be you, that it's happening to immediately, but you could relate it to somebody else and then you've learned now from that process.
Tim Ranzetta: Did everybody notice how Amanda talked about Richard Sherman tackling personal finance, pun intended?
[00:12:39] Most Engaging Videos
Tim Ranzetta: Yeah, that was good. What are, I guess you all seem to me, given your backgrounds in entertainment and I assume focus on data also, I wondered two questions. One would be kind of who do you see as your target market. 4 million stories for those interested in using it. And two, when you look at the data, what are the videos that are most engaging in terms of where are you finding most people gravitating to in, the million stories ecosystem?
Jessica Chin-Yee: You know, I think for us in terms of data, it really, we created it in the singleton's, you know, for, from my perspective, it's always kind of a, a give or take cause if you're, if you're creating stuff for everyone, then are you really creating stuff for anyone?
Right? And, and that's kind of how they would say, In the marketing world, but the singletons, that was their dream. They want everyone to have financial stability and so for them, you know, as a result of that, we've created videos and crafted and, and. Different videos and pieces apply to everyone. You know, we have a series called Startup Kids and it's literally about kids who've started their own businesses, who are successful, who have worked to make bath bombs and like built up these large scale businesses through like small things that they've done in their garage and as hobbies.
So, you know, you're tackling the small, younger children, you're tackling, you know, the individuals who. Older and like have, have children of their own and are trying to make their paychecks work and understand you're tackling as, as Amanda said, the recent graduates who will have student loan debt and live with their, you know, their significant other and are trying to manage their financial, you know, their financial path.
So, you know, for us, It, it goes, it runs the swath, you know, really from anywhere from like high school to, to 45 50, and which is a huge swath, you know, when you're trying to think of a demographic that you're trying to target. But all of those individuals need help because at all of those stages if you haven't learned these basic skills When you're 10 15, you know you're not gonna have those skills necessarily when you're 20, 25.
And if you didn't learn them when you were 20, 25, the hard way, you might not still have them when you're 40, 45, you know? So for us, it's really important to no matter which stage in the game you're coming into this, that you can really understand and that we're meeting you where you're at in those kinds of situations.
And so for us, you know it. Like runs the gamut. And then speaking in terms of the data of what's most watched, a lot of it really depends on, again, the individuals of who we're targeting. You know, we have one series called George Goes Everywhere, and that seems to be one of our most popular because it talks about travel and I think sometimes when people think of finance, You know, they get overwhelmed and they don't wanna think about the hard stuff like the 401k.
So, but it's almost a way to trick them into thinking about finances if you're talking to them about, I went to this place, oh, and I planned ahead, you know, and so I was able to spend less, or I didn't stay in the, on the main drag, I stayed a little bit farther out, or I ate at a local restaurant. And so for, you know, we see a lot, a lot of traction with that.
[00:15:53] On Venture Valley
Tim Ranzetta: Let's talk cause I know some of the teachers may be wondering if you showed a trailer for Venture Valley, kind of what's the use case in the classroom? So a teacher who wants to use that game, how have you seen it used in the classroom?
Is it broken into different classroom periods? Is it done in one sitting? Just a little bit about how to implement that.
Amanda Chin-Yee: Yeah, that's, thanks for bringing that up. And I actually just went on the website so people can see it for it themselves. , we've partnered with Discovery Education and actually come up with curriculum.
You know, we're in the nonprofit world and as we talk about, and this is something that we hear all the time, capacity building. You know, everyone is already maxed out on their work. They wanna do good. You know, you wanna add in these different types of activities and things of that nature. But it's like, do I have to create another lesson plan?
And so that's why we partnered with Discovery Education. So we actually created classroom resources that are free. This whole website you can go on right now and download and download the educator guide the classroom activity. It gives you a little, it's like Sims meets Monopoly meets chess where they can play against different opponents all the time. And then you have your different business mentors going through the game and you're learning a lot.
Tim Ranzetta: This has been awesome. I wish we could go on for another hour or several hours. You guys are awesome. You know, Jessica and Amanda, I mean, really thank you for, thank you for being here today, but more importantly, thank you for the work you do.
It's not, there are not as many organizations as there should be kind of doing the work that you're doing, which is a very noble goal of how do we increase financial education and. Taking the approach using, you know, folks who have backgrounds in Hollywood and video games to understand how do we engage young people?
And I love the melding of the mission with the background of folks and really bringing something that's unique and I think incredibly engaging. We really look forward to kind of continuing to partner with you to get you get your resources out. Deeper and deeper into the K-12 community. So I wanna just thank you for, for spending time with you.
Jessica Patel: Thank you so much, Tim, for having us on. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about Singleton with all of you. Thank you all because I know how hard it is to be a teacher, so thank you for all of your, your patience with, with children and teaching them and helping the next generation out.
Tim Ranzetta: Some housekeeping items. Before we go, we'll put links to the resources that Amanda and Jessica mentioned. We'll put those in the show notes, which you can find at www.ngpf.org/podcast better yet, subscribe iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcast. Please leave us a review. Also, when our ratings move up, it means more people listening to our amazing guests.
Want to thank Ren Makino who produces our podcast every week as well as the detailed show notes. Thank you, Ren. So on behalf of Amanda, Jessica, and myself, I wanna thank you again for tuning in to the NGPF podcast. Have an amazing week.
About the Authors
Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.
Ren has been working part-time at NGPF since 2014, interning through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, after graduating from college in 2020, he joined the team to work full-time. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.
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