ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — March is Women’s History Month, and one local nonprofit is looking to push girls forward through financial literacy.

What You Need To Know

  • Eight Cents in a Jar partnered on an event to educate Orange County teen girls on how to manage their money

  • After losing her parents, Eight Cents in a Jar Executive Director Lashea Reaves learned about the importance of managing money

  • Now she is making sure others are learning how to plan for their future

Eight Cents in a Jar teamed up with the Florida Council of Economic Education, Orange County Public Schools and the UCF College of Community Innovation and Education to host an interactive event for Orange County teen girls to educate them about how to manage their money for a brighter future, Invest in Girls.

Narcell Andrezil Evans, a participant in the program, is making important decisions about running a household budget. While she’s still a student, she’s learning about the choices she’ll face in just a few years.

“What is going on is we are the Johnsons, and we are a tight, small family and we are buying a house," said Evans, looking at her information sheet for a budgeting activity. "And with buying (a) house, we realize there are some needs and wants. So we are just checking off and paying down what we need to be able to buy the house that we want.”

Bringing the event to Central Florida was the brainchild of Lashea Reaves, the founder and executive director of Eight Cents in a Jar, an Orange County-based nonprofit. Reaves aims to create opportunities for students to receive financial education. She was inspired to start her organization after losing her parents, adopting her sister and finding herself in a bad spot. 

“Through that and after I adopted my sister, I found out that our dad was using our identity for drugs and money. By the time that I got all of that situated, I literally had eight cents left in my bank account. Didn’t have enough for a bank account so I came home, threw those eight cents in a jar and said ‘Never again',” Reaves said. 

She built herself up and wanted to prevent students from living paycheck to paycheck. She now devotes her time teaching young people how to manage their money at an early age.

“Making sure that women are equipped with personal finance is one, building confidence for them to make informed decisions, but then also teaching their families to also make informed decisions to just build wealth as a family,” Reaves said. 

She also relies on volunteers like Nekia Foxx to share their expertise during these activities. Foxx, an entrepreneur of 18 years, wants to give back by showing girls the path to financial freedom using real scenarios. 

“Life is about how you manage your money, how you multiply your money, or lack thereof, so them being able to be engaged in all the different specific things that you have to buy throughout the monthly basis, this is a life activity for them,” Foxx said. 

The activity shows girls like Evans not just the value of saving, but the value of believing in yourself.

“The talks that we have, even this little activity, I am pulling a lot from it because it is showing me how to strategize what do I want, what do I need, how do I want things done," Evans said.

Reaves said she believes that is a valuable lesson for everyone. 

“If we have adults that are financially sound, then we now have financially sound communities, so the earlier we can get them to build these habits, the better our communities, neighborhoods and societies will be,” she said. 

Eight Cents in a Jar has another event, Teach Students Money Expo, coming up in April, which is financial literacy month. It is free for girl and boy students. You can find out how to enroll on the organization's website.