National Financial Literacy Month, observed annually in April in the United States, aims to promote financial education and literacy among all age groups. However, systemic inequalities pose a significant barrier for Black, brown and low-income communities in regard to accessing monetary resources and opportunities. Financial coach Shanisha Dixon-Tyrell is spearheading efforts to change this narrative, starting with the youth.

Dixon-Tyrell, CEO and founder of Shanisha’s Changing Lives Inc., empowers young people, families and business owners with strategies to enhance, safeguard and invest their finances. She recently hosted the inaugural FinLit Youth Conference in Brooklyn, New York, equipping Black and brown kids with essential financial skills for responsible adulthood.

Photo: Photo Provided

The event took place on April 13 at the Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering, a venue with special significance, as it happens to be Dixon-Tyrell’s former high school. Graduating in 2008, she maintained strong relationships with principals and teachers, returning almost two decades later to teach financial literacy to a new generation of students.

“I grew up in this school, and it was really monumental for me, shaping my confidence and helping me build my resources,” Dixon-Tyrell told Blavity. “Connecting and building at such a young age has been invaluable to me throughout my life. I realized that I needed to bring back what I gained here to the school. I wanted to bring back not just money, but also the opportunities and financial blessings I received during my time here.”

Photo: Photo Provided

She continued, “I [also] wanted to share information from different communities because sometimes we only know one thing growing up in one community. Having been raised in a diverse environment at this school, I wanted to bring that diversity in information and resources back here — diverse people, places, things, etc.”

Dixon-Tyrell enlisted several financial experts and entrepreneurs, each specializing in their respective fields, to participate in the FinLit Youth Conference. Attendees had the opportunity to explore topics ranging from budgeting with a “boujee” twist with Boujee Banker Raquel Curtis, to learning a “cheat code for kids” for investing in stocks with Francis Kway. Participants could also discover how to generate passive income online with Danielle Flowers, CEO and founder of Dexte + Denim. 

Additionally, there were insightful workshops for both parents and kids, which provided opportunities for them to gain financial knowledge and skills. Many of the kids, who were current students of the high school, also enjoyed the cash cube, which they entered and then had 10 seconds to catch as much money as possible without touching the floor. Excitement and laughter filled the room as the kids eagerly tried to take home some free money.


Principal Jorge Sandoval commended Dixon-Tyrell for her dedication to returning to the Bushwick campus to educate students about financial literacy.

“I must commend Shanisha for bringing us all together today,” he said to the crowd at the event. “I am a proud educator, but more importantly, I am proud to have been Shanisha’s U.S. history teacher. She was an awesome student during her time here. Partnering with her as a principal, and seeing the respect between us as a former student and teacher, is truly amazing. We aspire for this event to grow larger.”

To conclude the event, Amber Le’Shea, CEO and founder of Ratchet Assets, served as the moderator on a panel alongside speakers Albania Rosario (CEO and founder of Fashion Designers of Latin America), Francis Kway (co-founder of Cheat Code TV and Cheat Code for Kids), Julie Hansson (director of talent marketing), and Gregory Barnes (clinician of Youth Basketball Community Relations). Together, they shared the challenges and triumphs they experienced early on in their careers, providing valuable insights and inspiration to the audience.

With financial literacy becoming increasingly recognized as a crucial life skill, initiatives like the one led by Dixon-Tyrell are pivotal in shaping the financial competence of young adults. 

According to a study by Christiana Stoddard and Carly Urban for the National Endowment for Financial Education, young adults who are required to take finance courses in school are more likely to make better financial decisions later in life, leading to improved financial well-being and long-term success.

As the FinLit Youth Conference welcomed attendees from all walks of life, children from various parts of New York City shared how the event helped them learn to foster healthy financial habits for the future. 

“I was eager to attend Ms. Shanisha’s FinLit Conference because I wanted to learn how to use my money better and invest in stocks to make a profit,” Ethan Dickens, 11, told Blavity. “What I learned most from the conference was the ins and outs of stocks and how a young person like me could invest in stocks through a custodial account. I enjoyed meeting new people, watching kids in the cash cube and winning prizes.”

Dixon-Tyrell also emphasized to children that it’s never too early or too late to start preparing for the future.

“The biggest thing for me is that they know, right now at this age, with whatever dollar amount they have, whatever position they are in life, they can get started with building a healthy financial future she said. 

When asked if there would be more financial literacy events in the near future, Dixon-Tyrell said she hopes to turn this initiative into an annual gathering.