Closing a Gap in West Philadelphia

This is part of series of posts by recipients of the 2019 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Chirag Manyapu, WH ’19

This past summer I had the opportunity to work at Bridges to Wealth, a non-profit organization that attempts to close the wealth gap in communities in West Philadelphia. Bridges to Wealth empowers low-wealth high school students, parents, seniors, and other community members with vital business literacy knowledge and financial life skills.

I got the opportunity to help develop, design, and teach the program’s curriculum. The program focused on financial concepts like how to repair credit, how to save money, reduce debt, how to understand and navigate mutual funds, and how to plan for the future. I helped facilitate the adult program sites at the Cobbs Creek Library and at a local senior center. Once the adult graduates complete the course training, they receive monthly ongoing education and wealth building opportunities on topics such as how to invest in the stock market. I plan on continuing on helping with the monthly programming throughout the school year.

One of the key aspects of the program was also teaching an entrepreneurship curriculum for fifteen high school students. I had the opportunity to work one on one with the students to help them develop their own small businesses. All the way from coming up with the idea to the final pitch competition, I got to work with the students every day to hone in on their product. Each week focused on a different part of developing the company. Together I researched and brainstormed with students on market, competitor, and customer analyses. Helping the students come up with material for their presentations, practicing their public speaking abilities, and providing ways to develop quantitative skills were some of the long-term skills I helped trained the students on.

Overall the program was my first experience teaching a group of students and it was extremely inspiring to see how the students learned, grew, and generated impact so quickly. I worked under the two co-founders and since it was such a small team I was given substantial responsibility. It felt great to work for such a such a tight knit group where I felt people my contributions were having substantial impact, and I was being given the flexibility to come up with new ideas and steer the program. The co-founders became great mentors for me and I hope to continue to reach out to them for advice and recommendations in the future.

My summer internship really caused me to reflect on what career I want in the future. This was my first ever exposure to teaching to urban high school students and really reminded of the community development activities I used to do before college. The summer experience was very enriching and reinforced my decision to find a career in social impact. I hope to take what I have learned this summer and continue to use my knowledge of finance and entrepreneurship to create more opportunities in the communities that need it the most.

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