Ranell Washington helps teens get smart about money

Pay it Forward

Ranell Washington

Ranell Washington

Assistant vice president of business banking

Town Bank

Nonprofit served: SecureFutures

Service: Money coach


Ranell Washington
Lila Aryan Photography

Promoting a slow and steady approach to building wealth isn’t an easy sell to high school students.

But as a volunteer money coach with Milwaukee-based nonprofit SecureFutures, Ranell Washington helps teens understand the importance of adopting the smart financial practices of saving and budgeting at a young age.

“You have to find ways to make it exciting and tie it back to the things they care about,” Washington said. “You teach them how to set priorities and help them figure out how money can be a tool to get you where you want to go.”

SecureFutures runs financial literacy programs in high schools around Wisconsin, through which business community volunteers help students to budget their spending, begin saving for the future and understand how to manage credit wisely.

Washington, assistant vice president of business banking at Town Bank, has served as a volunteer for five years. After four years of working with students at his alma mater, Washington High School in the Sherman Park neighborhood, he now serves at Bradley Tech High School in Walker’s Point.

Washington said volunteering with the organization gives him the opportunity to set students up for success after high school.   

“We talk about the importance of having a bank account, being a good steward of the money you have, finding ways to budget, checking/savings, other investments, how to pay for college if you decide to go, how to set a good path if you’re going to work right out of high school, understanding credit cards, how to shop for a car,” Washington said. “We’re really trying to give people the opportunity to have these skills at a young age so they make better decisions.”

Brenda Campbell, president and chief executive officer of SecureFutures, said the organization relies on volunteers like Washington who can share their experience and knowledge with students.

“His passion for financial capability is clear, and teens really look up to him,” Campbell said. “It’s obvious every time he goes into the classroom that he truly cares about helping students become money smart and secure their futures.”

One of the most rewarding experiences, Washington said, was when he coached students through mock job interviews. One student reported back to Washington that she went home and shared the tips she had learned to help her mom prepare for a job interview of her own.

“It may not seem like they remember everything we teach,” he said, “But they pick it up like
a sponge.”

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.