InvestNow Club founder expands program

Madelaine Province

In a time where many were feeling desolate and isolated, Danielle Wasserman, junior, used her free time to take action on an issue close to her. During the 2020-2021 virtual learning school year, she decided to start a student-run, federal non-profit organization with the goal to bring investment clubs to high schools in primarily historically disadvantaged communities. The organization, called InvestNow Clubs, is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit that spans across four high schools, three in St. Louis and one in Columbus, Ohio. Since its founding, the club has grown to over 110 students and is a helpful resource for many. 

“I just felt like there was an opportunity to expand financial literacy in U. City, so I took up the cause,” Wasserman said. “We’re steadily gaining more members.  “I started since I had the time and inspiration and over the past year and a half it’s expanded to three other schools and we’ve grown our Lessons in Leadership program to have more guest speakers and mentorship opportunities for club members.”

The club started with only four members, as virtual meetings felt unappealing to many students at the time. But with the recent surge in successful entrepreneurial pursuits by young adults, many teenagers have become more business-minded, coming up with all kinds of ideas for starting their own businesses. 

“I’ve always been interested in business,” Wasserman said. “Whether it was at U. City or when I was at private school, I’ve always wanted to be a part of an investment club. Here at U. City, there already wasn’t an investment club, and the school is historically disadvantaged as there’s many low income students here. So that kind of set off the spark of the idea that I could really help make a change.”

Clubs in general can be very beneficial to students, and the material discussed and taught in InvestNow Clubs can be of especially great value to those receiving it. 

“If you start teaching financial literacy and intervene at a younger high school age, you can begin to create better habits for many of the students so that they can come out of some of these lives and create great jobs for themselves,” Wasserman said. “Whether it be like business, nursing or writing, they’ll have the financial skills to set themselves up for financial freedom.”

Wasserman chooses to delegate some of the responsibilities of the club to her student leaders, involving more people in her journey of teaching financial literacy. 

“People had been telling me about the club for a while and it sounded really cool, and I didn’t really know anything about investing so I decided to get involved,” MaKayla Stewart, junior, said. “As one of her student leaders, I’ll help her set up, help teach the lessons if she’s not there and just make sure everyone understands the material. It’s been really fun, I’ve been able to learn a lot of things that I didn’t know before that I feel like could really benefit me later on.”

InvestNow Clubs has a program called Lessons in Leadership where guest speakers are invited to come and talk to club members about financial responsibility, how to start a business and more. From founders and CEOs to lower-level management, Wasserman is working hard to bring role models to her clubs. 

“We’ve had a number of guest speakers so far,” Wasserman said. “I mainly do a lot of cold outreach and hope that people respond, and thankfully a lot of people have. For example, we have Maxine Clark, the founder of Build-a-Bear, coming to speak in April. We just hosted David Heller, who is the CEO of the NRP Group, the nation’s leading affordable housing developer. It’s a lot of just putting yourself out there.” 

While it’s clear that the organization has been a success, Wasserman doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. She has plenty of goals for both herself and the clubs, from expanding the program to teaching elementary school-age kids about financial responsibility.

“One goal is to expand to more schools,” Wasserman said. “We currently have chapters  in four schools, three in St. Louis and one in Columbus, Ohio. We plan on expanding to another school out of state and another one in-state, within the following months. Another one of our plans is to go into the elementary schools this spring and do a one-off session with the kindergarten and first graders and teach them about piggy banks. It’ll be a very basic level of financial understanding to teach them about saving their money as another way of teaching financial literacy.” 

In the longer term, Wasserman has plans to get her mission to larger companies and corporations, both local and national. 

“My plan is to start partnering with and getting donations from national organizations and corporations,” Wasserman said. “I’m in the process of emailing a few, whether that be banks or other organizations, to kind of go about starting those donations and gaining a relationship with them for them to come and guest speak. I’m actually in contact with McDonald’s right now to get one of their senior corporate members to speak in May.”