Affinity Plus completes successful summer sessions of financial literacy training with Cookie Cart

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Aug. 17, 2017) – Cookie Cart of Minneapolis likes to say it helps bake bright futures for Twin Cities urban youth.

As non-profit Cookie Cart does that, sometimes it calls on partners to help bake in some of the ingredients necessary for success. It does this as it provides teens with work, life and leadership skills in its urban bakery.

This summer, Affinity Plus and the Affinity Plus Foundation worked alongside Cookie Cart to lead two-day financial literacy training sessions for Cookie Cart’s student employees.

Educators from Affinity Plus helped build and facilitate the trainings for three cohorts of student employees in June, July and August. The trainings consisted of two, two-hour sessions on two back-to-back days.

Amy Hanson, Affinity Plus Foundation, said it was gratifying to see students have “a-ha” moments throughout the classes.

“Even though it’s summer and students certainly have lots of other activities and opportunities, we could tell the information we were sharing was relevant and meaningful,” Hanson said.

During the first session, Affinity Plus employees talked with students about budgeting and saving skills, and how to feel more confident about their personal money management and financial goals, Hanson said.

Students participated in a variety of activities and practiced how to build a budget, and started developing their own budgets based on their ongoing Cookie Cart earnings.

Phillip Moye, a student employee and cart captain, said he and his co-workers also learned a lot about each other.

"I learned that some of my co-workers spend money easier by using the card and some of us spend money if we have cash in our hand,” Moye said. “The sessions also made credit scores memorable. We talked about specific scores, and what goes on your credit and what does not.”

Musgrove said some students were also able to learn about buying their first car and how to save for their first apartment.

“It was incredibly valuable to have each student look up a potential place they could live on their own, then walk them through the process of identifying key things like parking, utilities and application fees,” she said. “Many didn’t realize all the additional expenses associated with living on their own, and this training session gave them the chance to ask questions and start crunching numbers.”

The second session focused on credit, borrowing, and planning for college expenses. Students had questions about when to get their first credit card, how to use it and how to build their credit, said Stephanie Musgrove, financial educator and business development specialist.

Many also expressed an interest in attending college and Affinity Plus employees shared insight about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), scholarship opportunities and using student loans wisely.

Sara Ernst, Cookie Cart associate director, said student feedback and their own research highlights the value of the partnership with Affinity Plus and the “significant impact” on participants.

“We know that youth who participated in the financial literacy trainings increased their understanding of and confidence in a variety of financial concepts and behaviors,” Ernst said. “They come away understanding the impact of a strong credit score, and they feel motivated to meet their savings goals.”

Cookie Cart received a 2017 grant from the Affinity Plus Foundation to help fund this summer’s classes.

The Affinity Plus Foundation is a 501(c)(3) serving Minnesota communities. Established in 2000, the foundation administers its own scholarship program, awards grants to non-profit groups and schools and supports financial education initiatives through partnerships, presentations and resources.

The Foundation operates on funds generated from its annual golf tournament and silent auction. It also receives funding from the Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union and donations from community members who believe in the impact and importance of financial education.

For more information about the foundation, or to support its efforts, please visit its website, contact the foundation at or call (844) 493-4483.