Our impact on teens and behaviors

To ensure the breadth and depth of our financial education programs, Make A Difference – Wisconsin maintains surveys and quantitative outcomes from students, schools and volunteers. This information is used to improve programs, focus on new or important topics, and track organizational progress. Here are some successes at our organization and from our students:

Make A Difference – Wisconsin programs, 2006 – 2015

10-year total of teens reached
10-year total of lessons delivered

Money Sense


Jeremy’s story: watch how one former student changed his financial habits – and his life

Money Coach


“Every time I get paid, I think about what I need and make a list of what needs to be paid for that week.” -D’amonte, 2013-14 Money Coach participant
D’amonte's Story


D’amonte’s story

A 2014 graduate of Pulaski High School in Milwaukee, D’amonte Gaddis was one of the first students enrolled in our inaugural Money Coach program.

Money Coach is optional for students who have had our in-class financial curriculum.  Based on those learnings, he recognized that he needed to get control of his finances and asked if he could join the Money Coach program.  Like any young adult about to go out into the world after high school, he was beginning to realize that there were things he would need in the near future – such as a car and money for college – and he’d have to start saving for them now.

When asked, D’amonte readily admits that learning how to create and stick to a budget was his most valuable take-away from the Money Coach program. “Before I did Money Coach, I didn’t care about tracking expenses or budgeting,” he says.

Six months later, these concepts are at the center of D’amonte’s financial plan. “I get paid weekly,” he says. “Every time I get paid, I think about what I need and make a list of what needs to be paid for that week.” This was a practice that Valerie Johnson, a financial advisor at Sikich Financial and volunteer Money Coach, instilled in her students to help them stick to their budget. Yet D’amonte admits that he sometimes still finds it difficult to stick to his budget, and struggles to fight the urge to buy something he wants, like junk food, instead of saving for something he needs.

But a large part of what made a difference for D’amonte was Valerie, his Money Coach. He was drawn to her outgoing personality and appreciated her ability to explain in terms that the students could understand how to develop a plan reach their financial goals. Today, thanks to Valerie and his time in the Money Coach program, D’amonte is already doing something most adults fail to do — following a budget and tracking his expenses — helping him secure his own financial future.

Total value of College and Career Readiness Scholarship earned by Money Coach participants, 2013 – 2015