Foundations of Finance with #RisingYouth David Chung
Two years ago, my life changed unexpectedly. My father died and my mother — who didn’t know English — was left to take care of four children on her own. It was the most emotional experience of my life. Although it was devastating, I believe it has transformed me into the resilient and capable person I am today. My father’s death was a catalyst for the development of my #RisingYouth project. In this article, I will share what I’ve learned from my father’s death and my experiences with the #RisingYouth grant offered by TakingITGlobal. But before I get into that, let me introduce myself first:
My name is David Chung, and I’m a 17-year-old high school student from Hamilton, Ontario. During my free time, I like to play the guitar, play basketball, and workout. I discovered my passion for entrepreneurship after joining my high school DECA chapter in grade 9. Since then, I fell in love with the idea of creating and developing something unique that could benefit the lives of others.
My passion for entrepreneurship stems from the curiosity and creativity I’ve had since childhood. As a kid, I always found ways to feed my curiosity. I was heavily interested in visual arts and often sketched in my free time. Most importantly, I loved creating things — whether it was toys, videos, or recipes (anything you can think of!) It was so empowering to see my ideas come to life, knowing my hard work paid off. My #RisingYouth project is a reflection of the passions I’ve developed from an early age.
You’re probably asking yourself: “What is this project he keeps talking about?” With the help of TakingITGlobal, I was able to create the first annual “Foundations of Finance” event. It is a free one-day program for high school students featuring workshops, keynote speakers, and interactive case studies focused on developing healthy and sustainable financial habits and skills. Free lunch is also provided (who doesn’t like free food?!)
The idea of a one-day financial literacy program came shortly after my father’s death. When he died in 2017, I was burdened with responsibilities that 15-year-olds normally don’t have. One of my biggest responsibilities was my family’s financial management because my mother didn’t know English and was very dependent on my father financially. Thus, I had to manage household finances and save money, all while helping to settle my father’s estate. Being forced to learn personal finance at an early age made me realize the importance of financial literacy and its absence in the high school curriculum. So, I created Foundations of Finance to make financial education more accessible to fellow students. I certainly could have benefitted from a similar event two years ago.
I looked back on what concepts I struggled to learn and built my event around these main concepts. My goal was to have students leave with a better understanding of budgeting, debt management, taxes, and investing so they can make informed financial decisions. I wanted students to have a smoother transition into adulthood so they’re not put through the same financial stress that my mother and I experienced.
All in all, I’m happy with how the event turned out. I have always loved the process of creating something that is entirely my own. Executing this project required me to design and create a logo, website, marketing material, and the event itself — all of which were things I enjoy doing.
However, it’s important for youth to understand that challenges are a natural part of any process! Although I truly loved what I was doing, it was very stressful. Most of the challenges I faced were due to one cause: underestimating the amount of time the project would take.
Since I gave myself a tight deadline, it was difficult to balance my project with schoolwork and sports commitments. The tight deadline also compromised other parts of my planning process. For example, I didn’t get much time to market the event. I believe I could’ve gained more interest if I gave myself more time.
Furthermore, it was difficult to secure funding for my project. The event was free for all attendees, so I had to rely solely on sponsorships to cover the expenses. This was tricky because many organizations were reluctant to sponsor an event that didn’t have a proven track record. Additionally, the deadline was so tight that many sponsors rejected me because they require earlier notice. Overall, underestimating how long it would take to plan my project limited the amount of funding I was able to get. In fact, I was a few hundred dollars short and it seemed like I would have to use money out of pocket. Luckily, one of my sponsors (that rejected me!) recommended I check out the #RisingYouth grant.
I applied and was fortunate to have received $750 in support, which was just enough to cover the remaining expenses. Support from TakingITGlobal saved me from potentially being a few hundred dollars in debt.
So, what does this all mean? It means you should plan early and give yourself enough time to organize your community service project. Sounds obvious, right? If I were to start my project again, I would definitely give myself at least 4–5 months to plan rather than 2–3 months. Trust me, you don’t need that extra stress.
I’ve learned many lessons throughout my life and my experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. If I could give my fellow youth one last piece of advice, it would be: Learn from your parents, they’re wiser than you think.
I realize now that there are so many things I could have learned from my father. I’ve run into so many obstacles where I wish I could just reach out to him for guidance, and I regret not learning from him as much as I could have.
The best time to learn is now. I can’t stress enough the importance of learning as much as you can while you’re still young. Think about it, you have all the free time in the world! Go out there, try new things, don’t be afraid to take the opportunities that come your way, enrich yourself with experiences, and learn from them.
If you have an idea that can benefit the community, I highly encourage you to apply for the #RisingYouth grant and just go for it! Remember, the best time to learn is now, and even if you fail, you’ll learn something in the process.