TORONTO–/COMMUNITYWIRE/–A pair of business leaders who grew up in two of Toronto’s marginalized areas are paying it forward to their communities with the expansion of Checks Over Strikes — a financial literacy program and platform aimed at teaching the basics of finance to adults and youth living in the city’s most marginalized neighbourhoods.
Founded by entrepreneurs, Craig Brown and Dean Chambers, Checks Over Strikes combines online and in-person learning with mentorship opportunities from local businesses to break down the fundamentals on everything from credit and savings to investing and financial planning.
The comprehensive online program aims to educate youth and young adults on a range of financial “must knows” including how to manage credit card debt, mortgage approval, and wealth creation. Checks Over Strikes’ unique approach is to speak to its communities in their own voice — leveraging its popular social media accounts and podcast to deliver fun and practical financial lessons that reach and resonate with a younger audience.
Checks Over Strikes draws on Dean and Craig’s own lived experience as young adults growing up in the Toronto neighbourhoods of Jane and Finch and Trethewey/Lawrence Heights respectively, where friends and family fell into the trap of fast spending, same-day loans, bad credit and overwhelming debt. Their decision to educate themselves in business is how they achieved their goal of becoming successful and financially stable entrepreneurs.
“One of the biggest problems in our community is self-sabotage around money. So many people are spending recklessly with no planning for the future,” says Brown. “Finance is intimidating and doesn’t always register with young people. We need to connect with our community so they can learn to invest in themselves. The more we educate ourselves on finance the more likely our communities will thrive.”
“Growing up as a young Black man in Jane and Finch, there was not a lot of talk about finance. I wish someone sat me down and went through the risk of credit and the basics of making your money work for you,” says Chambers. “Our community has been the hardest hit by COVID-19, and we want to make sure our young people are fully prepared for the new economic realities that lay ahead.”
To increase the program’s accessibility and community success, Checks Over Strikes is offering free access to its foundation courses throughout the summer.
Checks Over Strikes is an extension of Brown and Chambers’ acclaimed book, Don’t Be A Waste Yute: The Financial Literacy Guide. The focus is to minimize young adults from being labelled as “waste yutes” (a youthful person who has failed to use their time wisely) through financial literacy. Thousands of copies of the book have been sold and distributed across Canada.