By Executive Producer: Caridad Hernandez Wood
MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- On any day around South Florida, you can find Diana Thompson teaching the language of money. Thompson, the creator of the Student Finance League operates both a for-profit and non-profit education service for people of all ages. She says she was inspired while working as a volunteer at an after school program three years ago.
"I noticed all these banks and professionals and I noticed that when they started to speak that the students looked blank. And so I did this program student finance league that teaches the language of money in business and life. We are not teaching about individual credit cards, we are teaching what does a credit card even mean. We are essentially the Rosetta Stone of money," said Thompson.
Thompson's non-profit work takes her to places like the Kristi House, The Boys and Girls Club, and The Overtown Youth Center. On a recent day we visited her at The Camillus House in Miami where she was teaching a group of women. Some are sex trafficking survivors, others are recovering from drug dependency.
"They are doing really well. The biggest thing I find is the confidence. And a lot of times when you have gone through being exploited or some sort of extreme situation, you have even a less knowledge of money," said Thompson.
Thompson has designed a workbook that introduces the students to dozens of money and business concepts. She discusses concepts like account balance, interest payments and taxes.
When we met Thompson she was joined by one of her former students and mentee, Jaylyn Hawes.
The 18-year old says Diana came in at exactly the time she needed her most in her life.
"When Diana came along with the program. It was my answer. Business and Finance were always interesting for me and I tell people that I have a huge entrepreneurial mindset and it was very fun for me to learn."
Thompson recalls when she first met Jaylyn two years ago.
"She comes to class everyday with the biggest smile on her face and it was so motivating for me when I was going through my stuff," said Thompson.
Now Jaylyn works with Diana in teaching the language of money to other women. Jaylyn says she connects with the women because she understands exactly the trauma they have experienced. She says sharing her story helps with the healing.
"I was hit by a car, I was raped at gunpoint, robbed at gunpoint, just terrible stuff, it doesn't affect me anymore because I've been through therapy with The Kristi House which helped me out a lot."
"But I think that's the best part of me being able to move on. The women I teach, they get to see the other side of the story, that they see the ending that they can hope for," said Jaylyn.
Meantime, the bond between Diana and Jaylyn grows as they work on a cause that is important for them both
"It's about me giving them the same kind of connection, the same relationship, the same feeling that Diana gave me when she taught me," said Jaylyn.
And for Thompson, she believes helping someone with money and business is the key to breaking the chains of poverty
"There's nothing else more valuable you can teach money and business because its freedom," said Thompson.
Student Finance League is funded by grants and donations from mainly those in the banking and financial services industry.
You can find out more information at www.studentfinanceleague.org
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