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Team LIFE Takes Top Prize at Canadian Personal Finance Conference Hackathon

The future is here: this weekend, three teams of high school students pitched their ideas for accelerating Canadian youth financial literacy on the second day of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference (CPFC) to attendees and a panel of expert judges.

The teams were selected from more than 10 teams competing during the Financial Literacy Design Sprint Challenge at Hacking Good Toronto, a hackathon weekend held Nov. 17–19 with the goal of affecting positive societal change through innovation in technology.

The event was co-organized by two youth not-for-profit organizations, Pledges for Change and FuturFund. was a major sponsor of the hackathon weekend, and supported each of the teams with a mentor for their presentations at CPFC. The judges’ panel included:

  • Parthi Kandavel, vice-president at the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and Toronto District School Board trustee for Ward 18, Scarborough Southwest
  • Daniel Eberhard, CEO of Koho
  • Dan Dickinson, chief digital officer at EQ Bank
  • Jane Rooney, Canada’s financial literacy leader

The first-place team was awarded a cash prize of $1,000, lunch with Jane Rooney, and tours of the Koho, EQ Bank, and offices. Impressed by all three presentations, the judges decided to award each of the teams $1,000 for their efforts. Congratulations to all three teams on their hard work.

Winner: Long-term Indigenous Financial Education (LIFE) Program
Team members: Julia Berardini, Rayne Fisher-Quann, and Michaela Yarmol-Matusiak from William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute and Etobicoke School of the Arts

The LIFE program aims to address the barriers and and gaps in financial literacy faced by Indigenous Canadians. Its goal is to create community-based solutions through a network of mentors and destroy the systemic cycle of poverty by building a foundation for financial literacy within reserves. The program would target youths ages 12-15 through their schools and communities with a mix of 50% core curriculum, and 50% tailored to the community’s specific interests and needs. The program has three values: it must be accessible (targeted to help the most vulnerable people), holistic (fits with Indigenous culture), and sustainable (actually works to break the cycle of poverty). The program proposes to team up with the RBC Royal Eagles, a resource group for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis RBC employees, for mentorship, as well as the Canadian government and tech companies who could assist with technology so program members can access their mentors even if they can’t be there. Once they complete the program, each participant will receive a LIFE certification.

First runner-up: Nomics
Team members: Maas Lalani and Shehryar Assad from Victoria Park Collegiate Institute and Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute

Nomics aims to spur learning through gamification and competition. Their life simulation game would have users start in elementary school and “graduate” to new levels and earn “money” after watching an education video and taking a short quiz on financial literacy topics. Each level earns you a greater income, but you’ll also have expenses eating at your net worth (university tuition!) — hence the need for more educational videos and quizzes to generate more money. The goal is to keep users engaged through a leader board featuring friends or classmates, keeping the game fun, educational, and competitive.

Second runner-up: Budget Buddy
Team members: Pranav Krishnan, Jesse Sun, Arjun Vasudevan, and Agosh Saini from St. Francis Xavier Secondary School and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute

The proactive budgeting app would help you keep track of what/where/how much you’re spending, but also use geolocation to send you a notification before you drop your hard-earned money at Starbucks or H&M. Using weighted spending categories, the app would compare your budget to the average in your demographic, and use AI to monitor and adjust those categories based on the user’s behaviour. The target demographic is youth ages 16-22, with the goal of teaching the importance of budgeting and financial planning.