January 06, 2022 • By Eliana Chow
Organized by the Center for Investment and Wealth Management (CIWM) at The UCI Paul Merage School of Business, the Pacific Life LIFEvest Financial Literacy Program is poised to expand its reach. A recent partnership with Clayton State University (CSU) and a generous financial gift from Capital Group, home of American Funds, will advance LIFEvest’s mission to train financially literate leaders across the country.
“Closing the wealth gap starts with financial literacy,” says CIWM director Chris Schwarz. “For students, learning how to manage their personal funds can lead to greater opportunities throughout their academic and professional careers. In turn, financial growth opens doors for students to pour those resources back into causes they are passionate about.”
Breaking the Cycle
Named in honor of a $2 million gift from Pacific Life, a leading U.S. insurance company, LIFEvest has offered weeklong intensive summer programs free of charge to underserved 9th and 10th graders since 2012. These programs equip students with key skills they will need to thrive academically, personally and professionally. In addition to providing a crash course on the basics of budgeting, investing and saving, the program encourages students to strive toward a college education through exposure to campus living, career workshops, social etiquette sessions and one-on-one mentoring.
“Closing the wealth gap starts with financial literacy – more importantly understanding the value of getting an education,” says CIWM director Chris Schwarz. “Furthermore, for students, learning how to manage their personal funds can lead to greater opportunities throughout their academic and professional careers. In turn, financial growth opens doors for students to pour those resources back into causes they are passionate about.”
To date, the program primarily focuses on reaching students in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties, especially those who would be the first generation in their family to attend college. Thanks to a brand-new collaboration with CSU, LIFEvest will expand to the southside of Atlanta this coming summer, provided local pandemic guidelines allow for in-person programming and housing.
According to Jacob Chacko, the dean of the College of Business at CSU, the University’s administration and faculty have worked diligently to translate their academic work into local community impact since CSU’s founding in 1969. This commitment makes CSU an ideal partner in replicating what LIFEvest has accomplished over the past decade at UCI. Statistically, Clayton County has higher than average rates of first-generation college students and lower rates of college attendance, and Chacko is determined to turn those numbers around for the benefit of the wider Atlanta community. Implementing LIFEvest onsite at CSU is just the beginning.
“Many of our young people have had to watch their parents struggle to put food on the table,” says Chacko. “We hope this program will equip rising college students with the tools they need to break the poverty cycle and usher tangible hope into their families and neighborhoods.”
A Common Goal
LIFEvest’s work would not be possible without the support of generous donors who believe in the mission of the program. In November 2021, LIFEvest received a company-backed gift from Capital Group, a global asset management firm headquartered in Los Angeles. The gift will allow LIFEvest to offer an additional weeklong program, doubling the number of students its leaders can serve throughout the summer. In 2022, LIFEvest will serve 200 students.
“LIFEvest’s goals strongly align with our firm’s commitment to advance racial equity and financial education within communities,” says Michael Habashi, business manager at Capital Group. “It is an honor to support this platform, helping to enable new generations of students to pursue financial independence and their dreams for a better world.”