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 is a pivotal moment in a youth’s life when he or 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 $10,000 each to cities with innovative efforts to incorporate financial education into their summer youth employment programs. One grant is awarded to a city that provides financial education to youth during the summer only, and one grant is awarded to a city that integrates financial education into youth programming year-round. As of 2017, DollarWise has provided Summer Youth Campaign grants to 36 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.

2017 Summer Youth Grant Winners

Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer

The City of Apopka has been awarded a Summer Youth Campaign Grant to expand its financial education training within its Apopka Youth Works Program, by creating a mobile app that will help youth participants track spending and learn about responsible money management.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

The City of Los Angeles has been awarded a Summer Youth Campaign Grant to expand LA’s Financial Service Corps, which educates and empowers low-income youth through peer-to-peer financial counseling. In 2017, youth will be trained to serve as financial literacy ambassadors, and actively help their peers learn about banking, saving, and building credit year-round.

2016 Summer Youth Jobs Contest

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto presents award to contest winner

During summer of 2016, mayors partnered with The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ DollarWise Campaign and Workforce Development Council to launch its 5th 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. Since its inception, over 8,000 youth have used the contest curricula to help them manage their money.

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.