Student-Focused Financial Education Program in Running for $100k Grant Needs Votes

Tasha Danielle is a CPA, an author and an entrepreneur – yet she understands better than most the struggle to save money, to pay off debt and to build wealth through the eyes of a kid, a teen and an adult.

Over the past five years, Danielle has paid off $80,000 in mostly student loan debt all while building a successful company. Danielle is the founder of Financial Garden, a financial-education business serving both students (grades K-12) and educators through its mission to improve the financial health of its communities.

Now, she is in the running to win a $100,000 grant to build her business, and she needs votes to help her build a legacy in Metro Detroit and beyond. Voting for the winner is open to the public through July 1. The grand prize winner will be announced on Saturday, July 4.

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Financial Garden and Danielle are semi-finalists in the ESSENCE and Pine-Sol “Build Your Legacy” contest, which will give a $100,000 grant to one Black female entrepreneur. Danielle hopes to grow Financial Garden through this grant, which will allow her to get the curriculum into more schools, hire high-school employees and spread her message across all ages.

“This is personal to me,” Danielle said. “I start in schools as early as kindergarten, teaching students about money. I am a financial expert who had had financial struggles, and I was able to accomplish my goals. That is why I want to teach others how to do it, as well.”

Black women are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs and business owners in the country, but their ideas and ventures are historically financially underfunded. In an effort to bridge this funding gap, ESSENCE partnered with Pine-Sol to help celebrate and uplift black women in business with the “Build Your Legacy” contest.

Through Financial Garden, Danielle developed an engaging and creative curriculum using a hands-on approach to money and personal finances. Using games and activities appropriate for any age, participants learn how to make money work for them through its uniquely designed interactive and customized curriculum programs, she explained.

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The contest kicked off in March, with entrepreneurs from across the United States sending in videos explaining who they are, what they do and how they will utilize the $100,000 grant to support their business. Each contestant was required to submit their business and investment plans.

Danielle heard about the contest from her best friend, who forwarded the email from ESSENCE to her in hopes that Danielle would apply. Danielle put together her business and investment plans as well as a video and found out she was a semi-finalist in a whirlwind of just a few weeks.

Financial Garden, which Danielle founded in 2014, came about for several reasons, she said. First, she had experienced her own debt journey, paying off about $80,000 in student loans through a frugal lifestyle and sacrifice. Danielle said she rejected the idea that everyone has to live with debt, something she hopes to share with her students and others.

The other inspiration came from the students Danielle had tutored, especially those in elementary-school grades. She volunteered through a tutoring program in Southwest Detroit, and found that many young students didn’t understand money basics, like banking or saving.

As a result, Danielle developed a curriculum based on national standards as well as her education, understanding of financial concepts, personal-finance life skills and her grandmother’s teachings. As a CPA, she goes through continuing education, so this was another way to share what she knows, Danielle said.

Just as important to Danielle is that students learn how to start a business and make money through this process. That is why she authored the book, “Amina’s Bracelets: A Kidpreneur Story,” which tells young students how to start and grow a business using their talents and business sense.

Winning this grant would allow Danielle to expand her business, something she has dreamed about for years. To date, Financial Garden has reached the lives of more than 700 students and counting.

“Winning this contest means so much to me because I will be able to reach so many more students,” said Danielle. “I will have the available resources to hire additional instructors and the opportunity to roll out an on-line platform for students to continue learning about finances outside of the classroom. This is truly an honor and a tremendous accomplishment to make it this far, and for that, I am grateful.”

To vote for Tasha Danielle, please visit https://www.essence.com/your-legacy3/.