Goalsetter founder Tanya Van Court aims to close America’s wealth gap by empowering kids through fun
Discover what drove Goalsetter founder Tanya Van Court to create a company that educates kids about smart financial decisions through fun quizzes and games. Hear about her savings accounts for teens and tweens, and how she plans to reach more communities across America.
Financial literacy isn't often taught to children alongside reading and math. How many teens and tweens do you hear tossing around terms like "opportunity cost" and casually chatting about the Rule of 72? Knowing how to be savvy about savings can be critical at any age, yet it hasn't been a priority for many. This drove Tanya Van Court to create Goalsetter, a company devoted to educating and empowering kids with financial literacy through entertaining quizzes, accessible savings accounts, and more.
As a young adult working in Silicon Valley in the late '90s, Van Court learned just how devastating a lack of financial literacy can be. After her employer granted her more than $1 million in stocks and options, she lost it all when the tech bubble burst in 2001. She vowed to never let her children experience such a drastic financial loss, so from the time her daughter was old enough to understand the basics, she began teaching her everything she knew. As Van Court recalls, "By the time she was 8, she said, 'Mommy, I only want two things for my birthday: enough money to save for an investment account and a bike.' In that moment, I knew that if I could get every kid to say that, I could change the world."
Van Court left a role at Nickelodeon to create Goalsetter, where her creativity and knowledge of young people's interests helped her develop an offering that caught the attention of families from all backgrounds. Using quiz-based games featuring memes and GIFs from pop culture and social media influencers, Goalsetter works to effectively educate kids in wealth-building, smart spending, and managing savings from an early age. After all, when it comes to compound interest, it's about starting early. Goalsetter's quizzes are provided for every grade from Kindergarten through grade 12 and mapped to national financial literacy standards published by Jumpstart.org.
In addition to the quizzes, Goalsetter also offers a debit card for teens and tweens called the Cashola Card that parents can use to incentivize learning about finance. The card can be attached to Goalsetter's financial literacy quizzes. If a young user hasn't taken their weekly quiz, a parent or other adult can automatically turn off the card, sparking an important conversation about financial preparedness.
With the COVID-19 crisis keeping so many families cooped up at home, Goalsetter has been able to reach thousands of new users who are already seeing stellar results. "An 8-year-old boy's mother wrote in to ask if she could unlock more of our financial literacy quizzes for her son because he kept asking to play 'the Money Game,'" Van Court recalls. Comments like this demonstrate that Goalsetter is hitting its goals in real time, and the only way to go from here is to grow.
Although Goalsetter is a national company, its focus is community-oriented, and it plans to make its mark even more throughout the next decade by giving 5% of its transaction fees to partner charities, including Black Lives Matter, Waterkeeper Alliance, Save the Children, Purple Feet Foundation, Association to Benefit Children, and Girls Who Code. "The kids in every city across America are the kids that we care deeply about — and the businesses and nonprofits that touch those kids are the ones that we are partnering with, from East Oakland to East LA to East New York," says Van Court.
She adds that "The ultimate goal for our business is to help close the wealth gap in America by reaching every American kid with a Goalsetter savings account, kid-friendly financial literacy quizzes, and a debit card that requires kids to learn about money before they swipe their card."
That goal raises more than money: a child with a savings account in their name is six times more likely to go to college. "So, if we can wave a magic wand and get a savings account into the hands of every kid in America," says Van Court, "we can change the world."