HackBAC Produces New Ideas for Boosting BIPOC Financial Literacy

by St. Andrew's Communications Staff
High school students from nine schools across North America developed and pitched their ideas for improving financial literacy among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) during HackBAC, the Black Alumni Collective’s inaugural hackathon.
From April 9-11, students identifying as BIPOC from California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Mexico collaborated online to devise a new product or service, which they would ultimately pitch to an esteemed panel of judges: Paula Glover, President of Alliance to Save Energy, Fred Scarboro, Managing Director and General Counsel at Arete Capital, and Walt Williams, Vice President of UBS Peak Wealth Management and a former NBA player.

The judges awarded points to each pitch based on the product or service’s ability to solve a real problem, the concept’s originality, and the quality of the presentation.
 
The top prize went to Money Talks, a text-messaging service designed to encourage young adults to save money and a website that would feature educational resources and opportunities to connect with financial advisors. Runner-ups included EquippED, a financial literacy summer program for high school students and their families, and Smart Savings, an app that would educate users on financial literacy while also rewarding them with financial incentives. All three teams won a monetary prize that they can utilize to make their ideas a reality.
 
Each day of the hackathon began with a keynote address. Speakers included Michelle Singletary, Columnist at the Washington Post; Jasmine Crowe, Founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Goodr; and Eileen Fitzgerald, Head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy at Wells Fargo. Students worked in small groups with mentors who helped them unpack each keynote address and prepare their pitches.
 
"HackBAC has been instrumental in helping me formulate a business idea,” said Simeon Sannieniola ’23. “I've always loved entrepreneurship, but had been frightened by the vast amount of avenues to pursue. This event will result in me making a social impact through entrepreneurship in some way undoubtedly."
 
HackBAC, which was organized in partnership with St. Andrew’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the D! Lab, and The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning, was the realization of one of the Black Alumni Collective’s first goals – to create an opportunity to teach BIPOC students financial literacy, said Delonte Egwuatu ’12, a founding leader of the Black Alumni Collective (BAC).
 
“The power of HackBAC is having a vision and manifesting an idea into reality. For the kids, we wanted to teach them how to do that,” Egwuatu said. “[With HackBAC], we had an idea, made it a reality, and had a social impact, so we’re practicing what we’re teaching.”
 
Looking ahead, the BAC is planning to continue its goal of teaching financial literacy by launching a summer course for high school students, “Business, Generational Wealth, and Socially Conscious Investing.”
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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.