Bill Clinton Sells At-Risk Kids On Financial Literacy

Originally published by Neon Tommy.

“My anaconda don’t, my anaconda don’t, my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun.”

Nicki Minaj blared through the loudspeakers of the University of Southern California’s Galen Center before more than 5,000 at-risk youth, ages 10-15, heard some serious talk about finances and education from the likes of former President Bill Clinton and ex-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“Today is the start of your financial literacy,” said Steven Sugarman, president and chief executive officer of Banc of California, which sponsored the event. “I hope you’re excited.” 

SEE MORE: Clinton Inspires Donors, Yawns USC With Visit

Before several of the attending powerhouses were brought onstage to lead financial-themed games with the students, DJ Mal-Ski cranked up the energy in the room with his questionable song selection, which included the likes of Jason Derulo’s ‘Talk Dirty.’ 

However, the event wasn’t all fun and games. Former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, shared some of his own struggles growing up as an impoverished child in what seemed to be an attempt to connect with the students and their hardships. Opening up about his childhood, which involved in-house domestic violence and alcohol abuse, he stressed the notion that circumstance should not dictate one's future. 

“I broke down the door because I can read and write,” Villaraigosa said, amidst cheers from the audience. “I broke down the door because I [stayed in school].” 

Villaraigosa then asked the students to chant: “I am important to California’s future.”

Former President Bill Clinton also took to the stage—for a total of about seven and a half minutes—to talk to the students about the importance of staying in school.

“I grew up in the second poorest state in America. Most of the people I knew didn’t have much money,” he told the crowd. “If you want to be powerful, if you want to live your dreams, you’ve got to know how to handle your money.”

Clinton told the students that the most important thing they could do is to remember the lessons taught by the Banc of California representatives. He said that he works all over the world, in 70 different countries, where families live on less than a dollar a day. Clinton said it is interesting that "no matter how poor people are, because they are poor and most people they know are poor, they're good with their money. They know how to spend what they've got, they save when you would swear they couldn't save anything because they don't have much. We got away from that in America but this night is trying to give that back to you."

One message stayed clear throughout Clinton's brief speech: financial literacy is an important part of the student's education.

"The most important thing you can do right now, is to do your job, which is to learn as much as you can in school," Clinton continued. But one of the things that all of our schools have not done a very job at, is teaching our young people about money. About the value of money, about how to save it and how to spend it and how not to waste it."

SEE MORE: Hillary Clinton Is Running For President In 2016...Maybe

Despite the dry subject matter, most of the students Neon Tommy spoke to were optimistic about the event. 

“Really cool how it was focused on getting the younger crowd because this is a topic that it is hard for them,” said Veronica Hernandez, a student from Oceanview High School. “They are kids, and it was obviously pretty loud but the people that presented did a good job of getting them to interact with them.”

“I thought the event was fun, no one experiences this every day,” said Daisy Ortega, a 13-year-old student. Her friends, Starling Parra,12, and Susanna Rangl, 13, giggled at the music choice but said the event was a good chance to experience new things and learn about money.

Nadia Galindo, a teacher who was with Ortega, Parra and Rangl expressed her delight with the unique opportunity for the underprivileged children, for it exposed them to an environment they wouldn't normally get to experience, but noted that, “the music is not to my preference.”

Representatives from Guinness World Records were also present, later validating the event as the largest gathering for financial literacy education in a single venue. 

Reach Associate News Editor Diana Crandall here and follow her on Twitter here.

Reach Senior News Editor Rebecca Gibian here and follow her on Twitter here

Rebecca Gibian