Peer Training/Financial Literacy

The hallmark of the Hope Leadership Academy is a peer-to-peer training model, which was developed with the understanding that teens are more likely to absorb and respect information when it comes from their peers, rather than adults or figures of authority. At Hope Leadership Academy participants receive extensive training in group facilitation and public speaking skills, along with specific topics that concentrate on victimization, conflict resolution, healthy relationships and leadership skills. In our peer training curriculum, teens learn how to lead a group successfully and also get a lot of practice doing so. The more the teens practice running groups, the better they become at it.

One of the curricula that is taught at Hope is Financial Literacy. Financial Literacy is a program that educates our youth about the importance of being knowledgeable about their finances. Without becoming financially responsible as well as financially aware, our clients who are from underserved communities could fuel a cycle of vicious poverty, joblessness and helplessness among the youth. To combat this cycle, Children’s Aid Society, with a generous donation from Ally and Bank of New York Melon, has established a financial literacy initiative, namely, Financial Awareness Community Outreach Initiative, which serves the members of Hope Leadership Academy.

The teens acquire effective money management skills and, as in our other peer training models, also learn to facilitate the workshops themselves. As this program is a community outreach initiative, these students then go out into the community and educate other peers as well as performing adult trainings for parents.

Some of the topics covered in financial literacy are:

  • Budgeting and Spending
  • Credit and Saving
  • Managing Your Money
  • How to pay for College
  • Needs vs. Wants
  • Debit Cards vs. Check Cards
  • Compound Interest
  • Understanding Stocks
  • How Much Will Your Career Cost?

Open to young people 14-18 enrolled at Hope.

Peer Training Sessions meet on Thursdays at 4:30pm.


Retreats for youth are offered twice a year. They are held at Wagon Road Camp in Chappaqua, NY. Retreats offer an intensive introduction of what Hope offers. Participants go through some initial training and facilitation to learn the basics of how to facilitate a workshop. They learn agenda setting, how to paraphrase others' words, active listening skills and education on violence prevention and the promotion of healthy relationships. In one fun-filled weekend, they emerge peer facilitators, armed with the skills to lead a presentation and prove that they are great candidates for the Summer Institute.

Summer Institute

Participants who have attended a retreat are eligible for the Summer Institute at Hope Leadership Academy, a seven-week program that offers more intensive trainings and allows them to sharpen their leadership skills. This is a highly coveted paid job over the summer months. It takes place here at Hope Leadership Academy and focuses on training the teens to be peer educators. In group workshops, youth address difficult issues they encounter in their lives and neighborhoods, including family and relationship violence, gang and police violence, racism and discrimination, substance abuse and more. They then learn sophisticated strategies for conflict resolution, anger management, violence prevention and victim assistance. Participants will also utilize a specially designed curriculum to learn about becoming financially knowledgeable and aware and become effective trainers on all of these subjects.

Once youth complete the training and become certified as peer educators, they bring their message of peaceful conflict resolution and cultural awareness to their peers and adults. These include children in local schools, youth at CAS sites and other community organizations, CAS staff, CAS foster parents and other community residents. Since the program's inception in 2001, we have trained hundreds of adolescents as peer educators and delivered workshops to thousands of youth and adult community members.