Archive of Andrew Olson

Andrew has written 4 article(s) for InMenlo.


Talking about money may make some youth more squeamish than a freshman at his first biology dissection, but knowledge about money remains core to an individual’s ability to succeed in the modern economy. Teens from under-resourced communities in Menlo Park and beyond often graduate from high school without basic financial literacy. The volunteers and teachers of Future Profits aim to change that.

The Future Profits curriculum grounds the lessons in the context of daily life, covering everything from payday loans and saving accounts to life planning. Activities and competitions cut down on “chalk talk,” engaging students with games such as analyzing how modern music talks about money.

The Future Profits program has expanded to seven local high schools, including Menlo-Atherton. The majority of the partner schools are located within the Sequoia Union High School District, and the organization aims to reach those students at high risk for dropout or moving toward minimum wage jobs.

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Teachers voluntarily set aside one class session per week. A team of Future Profits volunteers use the class session to present the 24-lesson curriculum over the course of two semesters. Each team includes a rookie and veteran volunteer, allowing the new volunteer to learn the ropes before going on to teach the curriculum and mentor another volunteer themselves the following school year.

Steve Sawyer, eight-year veteran volunteer of the program and a resident of Menlo Oaks, said that he sees the program expanding the horizons of students and helping the kids “develop more of a vision of the possible in their lives.” He hopes students gain an “effective set of tools” to discern paths for themselves through activities that help the students plan their personal, financial, and life goals.

In the opinion of Lil Johnson, who started as a volunteer in 2012, the program provides a “vocabulary of how to make it in the world and not get played.” Rather than being directed simply for under-resourced kids, Johnson believes “all high schools should have this” or a similar program in financial literacy.

Now that summer break has ended, volunteers will be heading out to Menlo-Atherton with the onset of the fall semester. These dedicated volunteers hope the program continues to reach more and more students so that the teens of the Bay Area are not held back by ignorance of money.

Photos by Kirsten Warner-Davis, Community and Development Manager at Able Works

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Menlo School student and Eastside College Prep teacher travel to refugee camps in Greece

We sat down with Stacy Ishigaki, who teaches at Eastside College Preparatory School, and Menlo School student Lauren Chan. This summer the pair volunteered in Greece for five weeks where they worked with Syrian and other refugees.. InMenlo: So how did this trip come about Lauren? Lauren: Through a school research grant, from my school [and the HAND […]

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Suburban Park residents gather for summer cocktail party, one of a series of yearlong events

With the jingle of bike bells mixing with children’s yells, around 50 Suburban Park residents gathered in Jill Olson’s driveway for a neighborhood summer cocktail party last Saturday night. As the adults mingled amidmidst a multitude appetizers and drinks contributed by attendees, the youth played in the street and eventually broke out the water balloons provide by Susan […]

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Menlo Park resident Diane Dittmar tackles homelessness through her work at Abode Services

Editor’s note: In Silicon Valley, soccer parents hold PhD’s, fresh-faced college kids launch IPO’s, and Teslas are parked outside Trader Joe’s. In this world of affluence and innovation, some find themselves literally on the side of the road, homeless.  Into this often overlooked world of homelessness in San Mateo County steps Menlo Park resident Diane Dittmar […]

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