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10 questions for our new charity partner – MyBnk

21 February 2018


What is MyBnk’s mission?

MyBnk’s mission is to empower young people to take charge of their futures by bringing money to life. Our vision is a financially capable and enterprising generation.

How did you get started?

The story of MyBnk starts with our founder and now chairperson, Lily Lapenna MBE. Lily has a background in international development in Africa and Asia. She saw how a small loan can unleash potential, giving way to enterprise, better money skills and self-sufficiency.

Lily returned to London and set about creating a project that would allow young people in the UK to benefit from the same principles. The idea was to use financial services as a practical learning tool, encouraging young people to take the responsibility of helping themselves and the broader community. The central ethos was to get young people involved in all stages of project development and delivery.

Lily met serial entrepreneur Michael Norton OBE, who was the catalyst to make her ideas a reality. Michael has started a wealth of youth-led programmes, including the youth-led grant scheme YouthBank. Together they created MyBnk.

In 2007, Lily and a group of young people in Tower Hamlets created the first MyBnk-in-a-Box branch. Since then we have reached 190,000 young people in 1,000 schools and youth organisations.

What type of activities do you do?

MyBnk specialises in creating and delivering innovative and high impact financial education programmes. We work with children between the ages of 7 and 25 in schools and youth organisations. We’re committed to working with all young people, whatever their circumstance or background.

Our suite of education programmes covers a range of subjects from budgeting, banking and borrowing, student finance, tax, pensions and savings, to enterprise generation, product design, pricing, marketing and customer service. They are designed in collaboration with young people and educational specialists. Each one is tailored to be relevant and specific to the age, background and abilities of the young person.

These sessions arm young people, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with life skills to live independent and debt-free lives. Our expert trainers show them how to tackle debt and form positive habits like saving. This helps them examine their attitudes, behaviours and relationship with money and detoxify their personal finances. Here are some of our programmes:

Money Twist: our schools-based programme educating 7-18-year olds in primary and secondary school. Young people debate, play games, watch video case studies and involve physical activity in their learning, as well as writing, presenting and solving Maths problems.  

UniDosh: supports young people about to leave school or college and considering going to university. It offers a comprehensive overview of university money matters and gets them to plan ahead and evaluate the choices they will have to make at university.

Money Works: giving survival money management and debt prioritisation skills to vulnerable young people from the ages of 16-25 who are moving into independent living. We help them to identify financial stress triggers and change bad habits around money.  

The Money House: a simulated living programme in a real flat helping young people in, or about to move into housing, manage their money and remain independent. Workshops take place in a fully kitted-out flat, that looks and feels like a typical flat that young people would aspire to live in when they get their own tenancy.  

Enterprise-in-a-Box: featuring exclusive ethical products, the programme is a step-by-step guide to setting up a social enterprise. Workshops take young people aged 14-21 on the journey of making a profit while helping people and the planet and practical experience of running their own social enterprise.

Business Battle: young people team up to create a business in a week. They design, develop and sell their service or product at a real-life market place, in or out of school, as part of the enterprise education programme.

Money Mechanics: a specialist project aimed to help blind and deaf young people to budget, access services and go to university, by learning about money in their first languages. We’re collaborating with disability charities the Royal Association for Deaf People and the Royal Society for Blind Children.  

How will Octopus Giving make a difference to the work you do?

As a small – but aspirational – charity, the time, energy and money that you are giving MyBnk over the next three years will help us to increase the number of young people we reach a year from 30,000 to 36,000. It will help ensure that we can direct our resources where the need is greatest. You will help us to improve the quality and impact of our programmes and help us to grow our presence in the North West and Yorkshire.

What one thing would get you closer to achieving your mission?

Although there is wide advocacy for financial education, there remain very substantial gaps, especially at scale. As such, institutional sector support of the need for effective financial education for all is, and will always be, critical to our mission.  That’s why it’s fantastic to be chosen by Octopus Giving!

What are you working on right now?

There is a lot going on at MyBnk! We are in the final stages of major evaluations of our Money Twist and Money Works programmes and, over the summer we will be embedding the learnings from those into our programmes.  

We are in the discovery phase of two strategic projects: enhancing the quality of outcomes for young people by testing new ways of delivering our programmes through the use of ed-tech and fintech, and increasing our geographical reach through the use of volunteers.  

Finally, we are developing a new financial education programme for the workplace and specifically for young people at the early stage of their careers, such as apprentices and graduates.  

What things do you worry about?

Financial education of poor quality and competitions, which take up valuable time in the school curriculum and, in our view, hurt the case for effective education for all.  

What are you most proud of?  

The impact that our work has on the lives of children and young people. It brings us immense joy to hear young children get excited about opening their first bank account and to see the confidence grow in a young person who is about to move out of care and into their own place.  

What makes you positive about the future?  

The stories we hear from the young people we reach, and the evidence we have that we are making a difference.  

How can people get involved with MyBnk?

There are lots of ways that you can get involved! For example:

  • You could volunteer and support our education officers to deliver programmes on money and enterprise.
  • You could support Money Twist in the classroom by helping to facilitate discussions during group work and sharing personal stories around money and finance.
  • You could spend a balmy summer’s day in a field, helping to deliver Sporty Money Twist, an adapted version of Money Twist that blends active games and discussions to communicate key financial messages.
  • You could help young people to develop entrepreneurial skills such as business planning, strategic thinking, pitching and selling on our enterprise programmes Enterprise-in-a-Box and Business Battle. This could include hosting sessions in your offices and/or joining young people on the high street as they sell their wares on the market stall!
  • You can join Team MyBnk and take on one of our running or cycling events this summer, getting fit, having fun and raising even more money for financial education! We have two places left on the Vitality London 10,000 (28 May), and 20 places for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 (29 July). For more information, please email lucy@mybnk.org.
  • You could support our strategic development by lending your experience and expertise as we develop our capabilities in the area of fintech and seek to broaden our exposure to the energy market.  

The quickest and easiest way is to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and help to spread the word about financial education. You can also sign up to our e-newsletter.