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Girls Invest is a mobile app-based training to 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. Girls in this special program open a savings account that provides an initial deposit of $100 in increments based on girls’ completion of financial literacy and empowerment training via app (Android or iOS) on a mobile device. Subsidies are transferred to participants’ accounts upon completion of each of the five app modules. Girls have online mobile access to account information and can deposit additional funds or remove funds from the account at any time. 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.

The Girls Invest program is similar to other cash transfer models seen on a global scale, where girls receive a cash deposit into a bank account to promote financial security and to improve life outcomes. Usually, these types of programs are offered on a conditional basis such as enrolling in school or some other type of educational program. However, this model is unique because it involves an app-based approach to deliver educational training to girls and uses a savings account, rather than the provision of cash directly or into a regular account. 

Girls Invest Modules:

  1. Discussion of how gender influences girls’ decisions in career/education and affects health and social outcomes. The material covered promotes girls to take an active role in planning for their future education, career, as well as in protecting their health.
  2. Money, power, and relationships discuss how relying on others for money can affect control over decision-making in relationships. This section also covers partner/sexual violence and aims to emphasize the importance of girls’ social and economic autonomy and agency.
  3. Financial literacy training includes (savings, investing, loans, interest, etc.) overall we provide the complete solution about the finance, which helps them make the best decisions when it comes to bank saving and encouraging girls to spend money wisely.
  4. We also provide complete knowledge about educational loans and scholarships, and we teach them how to apply for education loans and how to get scholarships.
  5. Employment includes how to apply for a job successfully, resumes, taxes, salary, benefits, etc. are something most employers have doubts. To clear this, we provide the appropriate training and knowledge to girls on how to apply for a job, details about taxes and salary structure. Our motive is to give the appropriate knowledge and prepare them to fight against future circumstances.

Girls Invest Objective

Girls Invest is currently being implemented and evaluated among 200 girls in San Diego. The objectives of Girls Invest implementation and evaluation include:

  1. To recruit 200 girls to participate in the program. We directly recruit 100 girls; each girl will then recruit one friend to participate in the program with them.
  2. To evaluate the program’s success via rigorous evaluation methods (a randomized controlled design) using a questionnaire assessing changes in key variables over time, in-depth interviews with Girls Invest participants and focus groups with key stakeholders. We will also use app data to better understand completion rates and time spent on each module.

Benefits

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 US. Girls Invest will also increase our knowledge of how to apply technology-based interventions that are often more cost-effective, scalable, and accessible than traditional in-person intervention delivery methods.

Girls Invest is a program developed by San Diego State University under the leadership of Dr Elizabeth Reed and team.