October 28, 2020

Catholic University students, along with other DC college students, founded Seize Your Dollar Education," an education non-profit organization focusing on improving financial literacy among young people. The goal of their organization is more than to just change the way money is used, it is to change the way money is viewed. Their organization also focuses on two other areas of importance today: economic justice and navigation through the job market. They hope to help young people land their dream job and strive for a more equitable world.

SYDE Executive members who go to Catholic University include:

  • Sean O'Grady, Founder & Executive President
  • Olivia Leaman, Director of Jobs & Economic Opportunities
  • Gerritt Coughlin, Director of Financial Education
  • Donald Michel, Director of Public Affairs & COVID Response

Below, they share more about "Seize Your Dollar Education."

What is Seize Your Dollar Education (SYDE)?

"This is Sean here. Seize Your Dollar Education is a non-profit headquartered in Washington, DC, but open to all students and young people nationwide. The organization's main goal has been to offer support, advice, and general assistance to students in response to the COVID-19. During the pandemic, I saw that so many of my colleagues had expressed worry over the economic situation stemming from it. In particular, students have been struggling with their savings, income, and ability to find jobs. So, that is why I decided to found this non-profit. We are specialized in financial education first, but as inequalities continue to rise and jobs are scarce, we also work extensively with economic justice and employment opportunities."

How did you get the idea for the website?

"This is Sean. The idea for the website was not just a quick eureka moment. Rather, it occurred over time, as we realized that during this pandemic, the internet is the hub of everything. During quarantine and in-house restrictions, people turn to websites to educate and entertain themselves. So, I thought the website would be the best way to establish outreach. I have a small background in web development, so I built it myself. The website, https://seizeyourdollar.org/ is easily accessible and has all the info that young people need to thrive in today’s economy. Coupled with our newsletters, website, videos, and social media, I think we have a great network that is able to outreach to new members."

Where did you all meet?

"This is Gerritt. I have known the other team members since freshman year through various activities around campus, including economics and finance classes.  We attribute our passion for educating the youth on economics and finance due to the impact our professors and classmates have had on our understanding of financial literacy. The other members, Connor, Anna and Lauren, represent schools from Georgetown, Howard, and George Washington which uphold a devotion to promote the importance of financial education."

Did your Catholic University education influence your decision to start the non-profit?

"I think that our entire CUA experience has influenced us to establish the non-profit.  We have noticed that many students lack a comprehensive understanding of personal finance and the economy. Through Seize Your Dollar Education, we hope to enable students to feel more comfortable speaking and taking action with their personal finances. So, whether we are taking finance classes in the Busch School or economic classes in Arts & Sciences, we can see the importance of taking hold of our own futures when it comes to money."

One of your main focuses is Economic Justice. What does that mean?

"This is Sean here. We are working most directly to address issues with economic justice. In my view, COVID-19 did not create the economic inequalities that we have seen in 2020, but rather, it revealed them. There are real people struggling right now, and I think it is important that we educate ourselves about those issues and do what we can to address the problems first-hand. For example, just in the Washington, DC area, a great many low-income individuals, especially people of color are facing an eviction crisis, and jobs are hard to find these days. If SYDE can work to publicize those problems to young people, we may be able to get a conversation going about how to solve those problems. This may include policy changes in government, more charity work, or even direct action by individuals working together. No matter the case, I think our generation has the power to step up where needed."

What are your future plans for Seize Your Dollar?

"While we seem to just be getting started, there is a lot going on. To start, we just launched our first podcast via interview format on YouTube. We have sent out our third big newsletter, focusing on poverty. We even have new business leaders and mentors who will be working with us in the coming weeks and months. All of this cumulates in our goal to expand. We hope to reach way beyond the DC area and introduce our plans to schools across the country. By 2021, we hope to be in schools up and down the East Coast, and have students from schools in the Midwest and West Coast as well. At the end of the day, we are hoping to advocate for financial literacy and understanding to young people of all backgrounds. This includes non-traditional students who are trying to pay their own way toward an education. Basically, we will go where we are needed, and we are very excited for the future!"

What are your plans after graduation?

"Sean: I will be attending law school after graduation, and I hope to go into the military as a JAG after that. However, in the long-term, I hope to continue educating and empowering people around me through the importance of financial education and economics.

Gerritt: I am looking forward to becoming an analyst under a portfolio manager at an asset management firm, as I have grown a passion for fund analysis at my internship with UBS Wealth Management.

Olivia: I am going to get a Masters degree in International Development, and eventually I hope to work for an international development firm. From there, I can both travel the world and change it for the better at the same time.

Donald: I am an entrepreneur at heart, and I am hoping to combine my passion for business, music, and video production to change the world around me. I'm especially interested in inspiring those around me to be more creative and ready to step outside their comfort zones."

How can we find Seize Your Dollar?

"To start, there is our website: https://seizeyourdollar.org/

Next, there is our instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/seizeyourdollar/  

After this, comes our LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/seize-your-dollar-education/ 

Please send us an email to get involved: info@seizeyourdollar.org"

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