GULFPORT, Miss. (August 16, 2021)—This school year, Hancock Whitney is helping grow “girl power” exponentially by bringing the street—Wall Street, that is—to the classroom through a first-in-the-state financial and investment literacy program for girls at Gulfport High School.
Hancock Whitney is the exclusive sponsor of Rock The Street, Wall Street (RTSWS) at Gulfport High School. A Nashville, Tennessee, based nonprofit, RTSWS provides financial and investment education focused on creating interest in banking and finance careers among diverse populations of female students. The business/education partnership between Hancock Whitney and Gulfport High marks the first time Rock The Street, Wall Street has been available in Mississippi.
“Many girls opt out of math at an early age without considering a financial career because they don’t always have real-world role models. We’re proud to participate in this Rock The Street, Wall Street partnership with Gulfport High School to connect girls with successful female finance professionals on our Hancock Whitney team who can teach and mentor based on their own knowledge and experiences,” said Hancock Whitney Mississippi President Emory Mayfield. “The program also aligns with Hancock Whitney Financial Cents, our comprehensive financial education program based on a lifelong learning philosophy.”
In the financial sector, women make up only 2.5 percent of hedge fund managers, 8 percent of venture capital partners, 9 percent of mutual fund managers, and not quite 12 percent of senior private equity professionals. Students graduating from the RTSWS program average a 95 percent increase in their financial literacy and are five times more likely than the national average for undergraduate females to pursue degrees in finance, economics, or related fields.
“We are excited to be part of this opportunity for our students. When approached concerning implementing RTSWS, we felt like it fit perfectly into our Communication, Arts, and Business Institute. This program will provide a tremendous opportunity for our students to explore a variety of financial career pathway opportunities,” said Director of Career and Technical Education for the Gulfport School District Dr. Tom Wallace. "We are grateful for our business partnership with Hancock Whitney. Our students are looking forward to participating in the RTSWS program this year."
More than 3,000 girls have gone through RTSWS since its 2013 inception. Available last year in 29 high schools in 17 cities, RTSWS has grown this year to 50 high schools in 27 cities across the country and in Canada. RTSWS teaches young women about positive money management and capital markets while demonstrating the practical applications of classroom math. The program provides a strong focus on removing barriers and lifting students’ interest, commitment, and ability to persist in studying the “M” of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.
“It is imperative to improve girls’ financial and investment literacy before they reach college, take on college debt, and begin to practice financial independence,” said Maura Cunningham, founder and CEO of Rock The Street, Wall Street. “We are creating a robust pipeline of diverse women by sparking girls’ interest while in high school and moving them forward in the field of finance.”
Dedicated to closing the gender, wage, and wealth gaps in America, Cunningham started RTSWS after retiring from 25 years on Wall Street to encourage interest in math related fields among female students, especially girls from underserved communities.
How the Program Rocks
RTSWS at Gulfport High is a three-part financial literacy and investment program which entails a series of five one-hour fall workshops, an on-site visit to Hancock Whitney, and spring mentorships matching students selected for the program with Hancock Whitney female banking professionals. Bank mentors include women at various stages of their financial careers, from entry-level associates to senior executives.
The adult women complement classroom instruction with an interactive curriculum that engages girls in better understanding how math relates directly to saving, investments, budgeting, stocks, and capital markets as well as broader responsibilities such as family financial security and community economic vitality. The conversational format allows mentors to share first-hand tips to help girls succeed in financial careers and life.
“Many girls adjust their college searches and their career direction after completing our program. All of them leave the experience with greater fiscal confidence that will benefit them throughout their lives,” added Cunningham.
An RTSWS smartphone app further enhances students’ educational experience during the program.
For more information on Rock The Street, Wall Street, visit www.rockthestreetwallstreet.com.