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San Diego: Girls Invest in Their Futures


  Girls Invest is a program to reduce economic vulnerability and poor health outcomes among adolescent girls from low-income backgrounds. Girls in this program are linked to a savings account that provides an initial deposit of $100 based on completion of an app-based financial literacy training.

The development of Girls Invest was in response to a study conducted through the School of Public Health at San Diego State University researching economic and health vulnerabilities for adolescent girls at the U.S.-Mexico border. The study found that economic vulnerability, including food insecurity, may not only place girls at increased risk for health concerns, but also create increased vulnerabilities in relationships with male partners. In addition, the study found that economic vulnerability can create low expectations of economic or career opportunities, which can shift girls’ priorities away from their future training and education and decrease intentions to delay pregnancy.

Girls Invest is a mobile app-based training to reduce economic vulnerability and promote healthy relationships, financial literacy and inclusion, encourage the pursuit of career goals, as well as to support girls to manage social and overall health challenges. The app-based training covers basic financial literacy (e.g. loans, interest, credit cards, educational loans), and gender-specific topics (e.g., money, power, and relationships; gender roles and girls’ education).

The program aims to enroll 200 adolescents (15-19 years of age) residing in City Heights and National City–economically disenfranchised neighborhoods in San Diego County with high rates of intimate partner violence and adolescent pregnancy–to complete the app-based training over two years. 

Girls in this program open a savings account in which they receive deposits based on successful completion of modules in a training app. In order to complete each module and advance to the next level, girls must perform satisfactorily on topic quizzes. App content is interactive with real life scenarios to maximize girls’ engagement. As girls advance through the five levels, they are provided with funds deposited into a savings account. The savings deposit is made possible by the funding from Women’s Empowerment International.

Findings from Girls Invest will begin to highlight the utility of economic empowerment approaches to improve social and health outcomes as well as education/career development among adolescent girls in the U.S. Girls Invest will also increase knowledge of how to apply technology-based interventions that are often more cost-effective, scalable, and accessible than traditional in-person intervention delivery methods.