Parkland student, brother, friends design websites
By Susan Bryant
Parkland High School junior Sanika Kothari, 15, of Upper Macungie Township, has used her knowledge of finances to create a website program to offer financial help to students around the world.
Kothari said having to remain at home since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she wanted to do something to help others.
“I had been reading a lot about how extensive the financial education crisis is across the world and, to play our part in improving this, my brother Jayaditya, 13, and I came together and started Money Matters in June 2020,” Kothari said. “I have many family members who have careers in the financial field and growing up in this environment stemmed my passion to develop Money Matters.“
Kothari explained that in school, they learn science, math, history and English, but no one talks to them about finances when it is so important for their future.
“The number of people who do not know how to file taxes, manage their credit card, or invest, among other examples, is numerous,” Kothari said. “This needs to be changed. Finance is something that will never go away and for a secure financial future. Being educated in finance is extremely important.
“No matter if someone becomes a doctor, lawyer, author, or anything in between, learning to manage money is a common aspect shared between all people.”
Money Matters is a free learning program which aims to provide a financial education to everyone through a three-part approach: online classes, YouTube videos and a blog.
“Though our main target audience is students, we encourage people of all ages to educate themselves in personal finance for a secure financial future,” she said. “Across the world today, only 33 percent of adults are financially literate, and our goal is to improve this, starting with students.
“Together, my brother and I have taught over 160 classes and spent more than 300 hours teaching in one year.“
In June, she and her brother hosted the first Global Money Matters Convention, in which nine students presented topics of personal finance to an international audience.
Five guest speakers, including CEOs and university professors, spoke on their experiences and knowledge of finance, and more than 50 people attended.
“We have recently launched our volunteer program where people can contribute to our cause in various ways, from teaching classes to writing blogs,” she said.
Money Matters is geared to students of all ages, especially middle and high schoolers.
“Due to the versatility of finance, we are able to adapt our content for every person to understand and to apply the knowledge of personal finance in their own lives,” Kothari said.
She and her brother manage everything related to Money Matters, from the classes to the YouTube channel.
Money Matters is free in all aspects to everyone, including the classes, Kothari said.
In addition to starting Money Matters, she and friends Akshat Shah and Aditya Singhvi created another website program in June 2020 called Big Brainers. “Big Brainers originally started out as ChessMate, where my friend Akshat Shah taught chess to interested students,” Kothari said. “Seeing the potential for it to expand and grow, he reached out to me and Aditya, and we started Big Brainers.
“When everyone was at home in 2020, many students were bored and needed something to do. Big Brainers was our solution to this.
“By implementing a student-to-student learning technique, we were able to connect with our students much better and not only did we have fun teaching, our students had fun learning.
“Moreover, students were learning new and engaging topics for an affordable price, and we were able to donate to humanitarian causes, making it a complete win-win.”
Big Brainers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides affordable and quality lessons in various subjects to students from around the world.
“All proceeds from the money we raise is donated to international charities,” Kothari said. “Since the launch of Big Brainers, we have impacted more than 300 students, offered lessons in nine subjects, grown to a team of over 70 volunteers, expanded to a branch known as Big Brainers India, and raised over $30,000 to donate to charities such as UNICEF, UNESCO, and World Wide Fund for Nature.
“Within our organization, we have projects and operational teams such as Public Relations, Technology, Human Resources, and Project Quantum that all aim to make a student, parent, and volunteer’s experience as best as possible.
“Project Quantum is our initiative to provide free education content through videos. All in all, we are an organization for students, proudly by students.”
Big Brainers is aimed toward elementary and middle schoolers, particularly those between the ages of 6-12.
“Big Brainers has a mandatory lesson fee of $5 per one-hour lesson, of which all proceeds are donated to international charities, Kothari said.
“Both of these organizations would not be where they are right now without the support of everyone around me - my family, friends, and the entire public in general.
“I am so thankful to be able to give back to my community and will continue to serve and help people as much as I can. It’s truly an honor to be able to positively impact so many people across the world.”
To learn more about Money Matters, visit moneymatters4ever.wixsite.com/moneymatters or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Big Brainers, visit bigbrainers.org or at email@example.com.