Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Alum Spotlight: Entrepreneur Extraordinaire Christine Earl

This Girl Scout alum says she got her go-getter spirit for business from Girl Scouts. Years of earning badges, working as a team player in a troop, and selling hundreds of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies has its advantages when it comes to preparing one for the business world.

"I started in Girl Scouts as a Daisy in Knoxville, Tennessee, and stayed all through my high school years," Christine said. "My mom was my troop leader and my best friend's mom was the co-leader. I made so many friends in Girl Scouts! I recently married and most of the girls from Troop 353, now women, attended. It was so much fun to have a reunion like that as part of my special day."

Christine Earl at her wedding with sister Girl Scouts
Christine Earl at her wedding with sister Girl Scouts

Christine says with pride that she's kept those friendships over the years, even after high school and graduating from the University of Alabama. They were even with her when she started her professional career in the world of banking, giving her words of support to help her build confidence. And they were there when she needed a nudge to move her forward as the co-founder of VicTreeFi, a business that offers online and mobile-friendly courses for students of all ages.

"I got the idea to start the business after learning just how widespread financial illiteracy was and the need for programs to supplement what students receive in school," she said. " I talked with friends, many who I've kept from my Girl Scout years, and decided to take the leap to start a business to meet a need. While our focus has been helping high school and college students, we added Girl Scout courses because of my experience in Girl Scouting. I always loved earning badges and our troop appreciated badge helpers. Today's financial literacy badges are definitely relevant to not only Girl Scouts but also troop leaders and parents as well."

According to the National Endowment on Financial Education, most consumers can’t answer even the most basic questions about credit and debt or saving and investing. There is a real need to start education early, long before kids enter high school. Studies show that children make their first assisted purchases at age 3 (choosing the cereal box in grocery stores is the most common initial purchase) and allowances — that provide opportunities for discretionary spending — often start at age 6. Nearly nine in 10 parents of 4- to 8-year-old children feel it is extremely important that their kids grow up with good financial habits.

To the rescue, VicTreeFi, a parent-helper that offers a variety of courses aimed at helping today's kids navigate through dollars and cents. As a member in Girl Scouts, girls can earn financial literacy badges that include Buying Power, Financing My Future, Good Credit, and On My Own. The courses are given through video and written presentations and are created to help students/girls master Department of Education financial literacy standards. And starting this October, VicTreeFi will add two new courses each month that will help meet additional badge requirements.

"We've had a great experience working with several Girl Scout councils and are really happy to add Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast to our partner list," Christine said. " We started with creating and offering courses for older girls and have added ones for younger Girl Scouts this Summer, such as courses for the Money Manager and Talk It Up badges. It has been a challenge to adjust the courses for lower reading levels and to add animation, but we've accomplished it and are happy with the results. Councils and parents have been giving us some good feedback and the courses are reasonably priced for families."

Want to learn more? Visit www.gsccc.org and find the Financial Literacy sessions listed on our Events page. You can also email customercare@gsccc.org.

A video from Christine Earl: