Summer Youth Campaign

DollarWise encourages every city to incorporate a financial education component into its summer youth employment program. Our goal is to make financial education a key component of every summer youth job.

A summer youth job can be a watershed moment in a youth’s life when he/she learns the responsibility of work and the excitement of earning money. Being hired for a job and receiving a paycheck is a teachable moment that can shape attitudes and habits that last a lifetime.

The DollarWise Summer Youth Campaign is an initiative to encourage mayors to use their summer youth employment program to deliver financial education to youth in their community. It’s all about seizing the teachable moment of a young person’s first paycheck. The idea is to use this window of opportunity to instill in youth conscientious habits and attitudes toward money and equip them with financial-management skills.

Summer Youth Campaign Grants

Each year, the DollarWise Summer Youth Campaign awards grants of $4,000 each to cities with innovative efforts to incorporate financial education into their summer youth employment programs. As of 2015, DollarWise has provided Summer Youth Campaign grants to 30 cities. The application processes for both the Summer Youth Campaign and Innovation Grants begin each November. Winners are announced during the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January.

2016 Summer Youth Grant Winners

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry

The City of Albuquerque has been awarded a Summer Youth Campaign Grant to help its "Learn to Earn" program develop an interactive badge system that will incentivize youth to hone their money management skills during the summer.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts

The City of Charlotte's "Mayor's Youth Employment Program" will use a grant to provide year-round financial education and career readiness training to over 3,600 youth.

East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor III

The City of East Orange's "Summer Work Experience Program" will develop an entrepreneur camp for youth to help them learn successful business and money management skills.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland

The City of Memphis will use a DollarWise grant to provide year-round financial education and work-readiness training to 1,200 youth in 2016.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum

The City of Tallahassee's "Future Leaders Academy" will create an online financial education module system that will help teens develop their personal finance skills during the summer.

2015 Summer Youth Jobs Contest

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto presents award to contest winner

During summer of 2015, mayors partnered with The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ DollarWise Campaign and Workforce Development Council to launch its 4th annual Summer Youth Contest. DollarWise worked closely with Mayors across the country. To participate, youth were required to go online to and complete a set of brief financial education modules. Completing these modules automatically entered youth into a weekly raffle. Three participants each week were picked to win an assortment of prizes including iPads, Kindles, and iPods. Cities and summer youth programs across the United States were invited to participate in the contest in an effort to promote financial education in summer youth jobs. Over 1,700 youth from 114 cities participated in the contest. Since its inception, over 7,000 youth have used the contest curricula to help them manage their money.

This summer, DollarWise aims to double the number of participants and cities that were involved in 2015. Please contact the DollarWise Campaign with questions on how to participate!

Seizing the Teachable Moment

DollarWise recommends these steps to introduce personal finance to summer youth:


It is essential that you reach youth at orientation. Once they disperse to their various jobs for the summer, it is difficult to reconvene them.

Ongoing Financial Education

Ideally, financial education will be delivered to youth throughout the summer.

End-of-Summer Celebration

This event could be a financial education fair or an assembly with entertainment.

Ideas for Success

  • Involve the mayor.
  • Have all youth participating in your program and receiving a paycheck open a bank account.
  • Work with your local financial institutions.
  • Have all youth participants sign a pledge to set aside a certain percentage or dollar amount from each paycheck in a checking or savings account. [link to PDF pledge forms]
  • Use the theme “Save a Dollar a Day.” It is an achievable way to encourage contributions to savings and preparation for the future.

Incentives for Youth

Cities may find more success if they provide modest incentives to youth. Here are some ideas.
  • Offer to match youths’ savings.
  • Provide youth who complete a financial education curriculum a reasonable bonus at the end of their summer employment.
  • Withhold all or a portion of a youth’s final paycheck until he/she completes the financial education component of the program.
  • Provide entertainment incentives, such as free movie tickets or passes to the local amusement park.