On any given Wednesday, members of Heritage’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) program meet and go over a task list that would make the busiest CEO’s head spin. There are decisions to be made on fundraisers, brainstorming topics for a weekly radio program, plans for a new video production to discuss, teleconferences with a sister club in Mexico, and coordinating the bevy of volunteers needed to work at any one of a number of community projects.
Since the program was established at Heritage 10 years ago, the students have taken to heart the mission of helping others build their own financial independence through education and opportunities. Their tried and true programs like Moon Jar and Mini Trumps teach elementary school children business basics and the importance of managing their finances. Adults get a better understanding about everything from credit scores and banking to setting up and managing a successful business through free workshops, seminars and media programs, including radio call-in shows.
“We have such a large population of people who have a lack of financial knowledge or limited English skills. They are easy targets for financial abuse,” said Olga Gonzalez, a senior majoring in accounting.
Heritage’s SIFE team focuses heavily on helping low-income, often Spanish-speaking families in the Yakima Valley. Their reach extends to western Washington and internationally, having served as advisors for several start-up businesses in Mexico. In one year alone the work of these students will impact more than 11,900 people.
“There is such a great satisfaction knowing that I am making a difference in my community,” said Javier Estrada, Heritage’s SIFE president. “It makes all the hard work and long hours worth it.”