Simulated Money Management Training for At-Risk Youth

Period of Performance: 04/01/2007 - 03/31/2009

$111K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Northwest Media, Inc.
Eugene, OR 97401
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): We propose developing a comprehensive, interactive multimedia program for at-risk youth on managing money. The program, titled Dr. Buck's Money Skills, will become an integral part of Vstreet.com, a virtual community on the web developed by Northwest Media, Inc. dedicated to helping youth make the transition toward independence. Agencies serving troubled youth strive to re-integrate them into society primarily through the world of work. Money management skills, therefore, have the highest priority, but few programs truly take into account the circumstances and mind-set of these youth. Vstreet has evolved both in terms of its outreach and its content, and is now poised to incorporate the proposed idea. This involves developing a full-length interactive curriculum on managing money and a simulated interactive environment on the site that presents users with real-world conditions and contingencies requiring them to use money management skills. The overall curriculum will consist of three units, covering a variety of topics on budgeting, smart shopping, and banking. In Phase I, we will develop the curriculum unit on budgeting and also write the design document (technical blueprint) for the simulation. We will assess the program's ability to improve knowledge, competence, and attitudes on managing money with a group of Job Corps trainees in the Pacific Northwest. The curriculum component will also be produced for CD-ROM and DVD, joining the suite of stand-alone curriculum products developed through Vstreet. In Phase II we will produce the two remaining curriculum units and incorporate the simulated interactive environment on Vstreet. At-risk youth participating in this project will gain important information and skills about managing money that may help them make a more successful transition toward independent living. When they emancipate from services, these youth are often ill prepared to sustain themselves and, especially, to retain viable work. Having the necessary skills and attitudes for managing money is paramount for these youth to create a practical, stable, and healthy outcome for themselves.