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PictoKit: Retirement Toolkit is a portable workshop kit that teaches retirement financial literacy through the innovative application of co-design. Co-design is a process often used in product development where a customer works alongside the designer and directly participates in the creation and development of their product. PictoKit applies through its toolkit the concept of co-design to retirement education, reshaping the approach of teaching from a one-way, classroom format to a collaborative, participatory workshop.
We believe that this innovative approach will address an important financial need: the lack of retirement literacy among economically disadvantaged, young working adults. In fact, a startling “55% of young working adults reported not saving in either an individual retirement account or a 401(k) account and 40% do not have a savings account that they contribute to regularly”. Through visual, hands-on design activities such as a familiarity spectrum or impact mapping, participants will learn to collaborate with others, reach individual solutions, and have an active voice in what they are learning, ultimately empowering them to make informed decisions regarding their current and future financial goals.
Within the U.S. today, financial illiteracy remains a prevalent concern, becoming a significant means of financial exclusion. Limited retirement education has led to a troubling trend in which more Americans outlive their assets in retirement due to inadequate planning and knowledge. This need for retirement financial literacy is especially demonstrated among lower income, young working adults (20-38 years old), who lack access to such literacy programs and consequently, often enter the workforce without a clear understanding of saving and investing for retirement. In fact, there exists a significant gap between confidence levels of lower and higher income brackets, indicating an inequality in financial knowledge and a need to address it.
Furthermore, financial topics are often viewed as dry and complicated, and retirement financial planning is no exception. Many individuals are increasingly overwhelmed by the complexities of retirement planning, from initially saving to finding good vehicles for investment.
However, we believe our Retirement Toolkit will address this lack of resources through an innovative and engaging approach that targets an existing age/income gap in financial literacy. Activities such as timeline mapping will allow participants to understand retirement planning not as an abstract topic, but as something relevant and necessary.
“Learning about retirement has never been this fun.” - PictoKit participant
“In a few hours, I learned so much. Retirement is a lot clearer now.” - PictoKit participant
As seen in these testimonials, Retirement Toolkit empowers the public through financial inclusion. We believe that everyone deserves a secure financial future, regardless of their economic circumstances. By working with each other to discuss retirement challenges, plot goal timelines, and play investment term cards, participants can internalize complex retirement concepts in a way that is engaging and informative. The Retirement Toolkit empowers individuals to not only shape their learning, but also to create informed financial decisions for the future.
In addition to financial inclusion, the Retirement Toolkit seeks to build long-term relationships with participants and employers to create a supportive and responsive community for long-term financial security. Products such as the Take-Home Manual provide continued financial resources after initial instruction, while our website and ongoing partnerships with community nonprofits and employers provide a community for support and feedback. In fact, the Retirement Toolkit has already begun expanding its network, establishing trial partnerships with groups like Cal Dining and the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union. Additionally, the Retirement Toolkit is working closely with Big Ideas@Berkeley to further develop its solution, currently participating as a finalist in the Big Ideas@Berkeley Competition.
WHAT IS CO-DESIGN?
Co-design is best understood through its name. Traditionally, design in industry is a process where an individual creates a product or concept for a client. In turn, the prefix “co-” means together, mutually, and in common. Combined, the two terms come to signify an innovative method of design in which the client and designer work together to create a final product. This approach ensures not only that the final product matches the client’s needs, but also empowers the client, who may now make his/her own creative decisions.
Our innovation is consequently to use this participatory characteristic of co-design to not only create, but also teach. That is, we translate the client-designer relationship in conventional co-design settings to a student-teacher relationship in a workshop setting. Workshop participants have an active hand in what they are learning. By doing so, we create an informative yet appealing way to teach crucial information that is often considered dense and difficult to understand. Specifically, we plan to teach retirement financial literacy, a critical skill that is necessary in ensuring a secure future, yet is lacking within the U.S. This need for retirement financial literacy is especially demonstrated among lower income, young working adults (20-38 years old), who lack access to such literacy programs and consequently, often enter the workforce without a clear understanding of saving and investing for retirement. Instead of dense reading or memorization, we challenge traditional teaching methods for financial and retirement literacy through collaborative activities that directly involve our participants.
THE RETIREMENT TOOLKIT
The Kit: Initial Learning and Reproducibility:
The Retirement Toolkit is comprised of two parts: (1) the workshop kit, and (2) the take-home manual. In regards to the workshop kit, it is the primary medium through which participants are taught. Comprised of the materials necessary for the various workshop activities (e.g. post-its, markers, construction paper), as well as the workshop facilitator manual, the kit provides all the necessary tools that are required to teach and facilitate a retirement financial literacy workshop. It is through these workshop co-design activities that participants are first exposed to our retirement literacy curriculum, and will learn to collaborate with others, reach individual solutions, and have an active voice in what they are learning. Retirement literacy topics covered in our curriculum include:
The Retirement Toolkit also employs an innovative method of distribution. That is, the Retirement Toolkit provides all the necessary tools to set up a retirement financial literacy workshop, minimizing needed equipment and making the workshop reproducible and cost-efficient. This is because all of the kit’s content consist of materials that are low-cost and easily accessible, all either downloadable from our website or distributed manually. While we will initially be facilitating the retirement literacy workshops with the kit for free to businesses and partners with young workers, with time individuals can order/download the kits themselves to create workshops in their own communities and workplaces, creating a two stage growth plan to distribution.
Sample investment term cards from kit.
The Take-Home Manual: Continued Learning and Portability:
In addition to the kit, our product will include Take-Home Manuals for all participants. These manuals provide not only a summary of the concepts covered in the workshop, but also offer blank budget templates, curriculum worksheets, and other resources for participants to apply their new-found knowledge and to take their first steps toward retirement planning. Even after the workshop, these manuals remain a go-to resource for participants to access at home, presenting opportunities to both track progress after the workshop and seek more information about financial literacy.
SUPPORT THE RETIREMENT TOOLKIT
To provide accessible retirement literacy workshops, we depend on your support in helping us continue and improve our free workshop curriculum. Our goal is for all workers, regardless of their economic position, to have the same opportunity to secure their future.
Your tax deductible gift today will help us to continue providing this critical learning resource for economically disadvantaged young working adults free of cost. All funding goes to creating each kit of materials for every workshop, with $90 providing one kit for an entire workshop, covering key topics such as saving & debt management, budgeting, investments & risks, and retirement products & resources.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact: Amanda Zhao at firstname.lastname@example.org