It's no secret that many of our young people don't have the essential financial skills needed to survive and thrive in the real world. Across the country -- including right here in the Bay Area -- young people are borrowing much more on credit cards, repaying debt at slower rates than previous generations and struggling to pay monthly living expenses.
Our young people don't have these skills because not enough of us are investing the time it takes to teach them. This represents a massive failure -- not just for our young people, but also for our communities and economy. These are tomorrow's leaders, and we are not giving them the tools they need to lead.
So, how do we fix it?
It goes beyond our schools, our government and our homes -- businesses have an important role to play as well. In many ways, companies have the resources and are well positioned to help reverse this trend. But it takes a real time commitment to build the trust and relationships necessary to make a difference.
PwC launched Earn Your Future with an eye toward this type of corporate responsibility because we believe addressing the education crisis by helping young people strengthen their financial capabilities is a shared responsibility. Investment in youth financial education leads to stronger communities and greater growth for the company.
Our work with Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco is an example of how corporations can collaborate with schools and nonprofit organizations to invest the time and resources needed to improve our youth's financial capabilities.
Through its "Hire Up" program, Larkin Street works to get runaway youth off the streets and into homes and jobs. The challenge, of course, is finding ways to help these young people achieve sustainable success.
That's where businesses can come in. We've seen real results by going beyond the traditional financial donations and board representation.
PwC has collaborated with the San Francisco Beacon Initiative to teach a pilot financial literacy curriculum at two Beacon centers: the Visitacion Valley Middle School and the North Beach/Chinatown Beacon Center.
In this semester-long pilot program, our partners and staff spend time in classrooms helping students develop fundamental personal finance skills necessary for long-term financial stability -- like how to budget, maintain a checking account, and prepare a financial aid form for college.
We are committed to building credibility with students through recurring interactions. It's not a commitment we take lightly. Since we launched Earn Your Future in 2012, more than 23,000 -- or more than half -- of our people have contributed more than 290,000 service hours to support youth education. That commitment has helped us reach more than 1 million students and over 20,000 educators to date.
We are calling on companies in corporations across the Bay Area to join with us in this critical commitment to young people in our communities. Let's build our future together -- one relationship at a time.
Jim Henry is managing partner of PwC's San Francisco office. "Earn Your Future" is the firm's $160 million investment -- in cash donations and volunteer hours -- in youth education with a focus on financial literacy.