Chris Banks recently held a financial literacy seminar at Temple University.
Chris Banks has been working since age 12.
Banks was a paperboy, cleaned a barber shop and worked in movie theaters and supermarkets.
“I’ve always had a job, but I didn’t open up a bank account until I was in college,” he said.
Now 29, he recalls spending his money on clothes and cell phone bills, and graduating college with no money.
Using that experience, he wants to make today’s youths better consumers.
Back in March, he held a financial literacy seminar at Temple. He’s had two more at his alma mater, most recently on Sept. 30.
The seminar featured two guest speakers on the topic of starting a business. Some 75 students, ranging from sixth to 12th grades, were in attendance.
Banks deemed the gathering a success.
“Two hours on a Saturday, and not one kid walked out,” he said. “I want them to walk away with an understanding of a financial practice.”
Banks, who turns 30 next month, graduated from the former Benjamin Rush Middle School and Northeast High School, class of 2005. In high school, he was an all-city selection as a running back in football and in track and field.
At Temple, he realized he was not going to have a career in the NFL.
“Let me try to focus on my career,” he said.
Banks earned a degree in communications and political science in 2010, then had an internship in Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget office.
Later, he took a job at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, working in the CFO’s office.
“That helped me understand money,” he said.
Banks has been at the CFPB for seven years, now working as a budget analyst, traveling to his office in Washington, D.C. twice a week. He lives in Center City and has a 5-year-old daughter, Zoe.
Banks wants his daughter to have a better life than he’s had, and he wants to help young people understand finances.
So, he founded BanksGiving, a take on his surname and the fact he was born on Thanksgiving 1987.
Its mission is to strengthen and empower Philadelphia youths by providing financial literacy-focused programming and access to financial resources.
“This can be impactful,” he said.
Besides holding seminars, he is seeking sponsorships and funding. Ideally, he’d like to devote all his time to BanksGiving by 2019.
“It’s a great idea. I need to get more people on board,” he said.
Some of the specific topics Banks is promoting are money management, spending habits, saving money, avoiding get-rich schemes and paying off student loans, including making bigger payments than required, if possible.
In the near future, Banks plans a Nov. 25 fundraiser and a January seminar. Some of the future topics will include taxes, real estate and stocks, and he might bring his seminars into schools.
Soon, BanksGiving will open up bank accounts for its young participants, depositing $50 into each account. An estimated 90 percent of the students he’s worked with do not have bank accounts.
“Essentially, you are getting paid to learn,” Banks said.
Tentatively, the first deposits will be made next month to 25 young people as a “token of appreciation.” Banks wants to increase the number of students with accounts.
“Next year, we’ll probably triple it,” he said. ••