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This sunny Friday morning we are honored to have  Chirag Sagar, an amazing innovator, as our guest blogger.  In today’s post he answers a few questions about how he innovates to create a more just world. Take a look at his responses and think about what it means for how we should transform schools and how you want to transform your classroom.  

1)  What skills and ways of thinking allow you to innovate?

I am the Managing Director of Moneythink, a White House-recognized, 501(c)3 non-profit which provides financial education and peer mentorship to urban high school students. By placing college volunteers in high school classrooms to lead teens through an engaging curriculum that incorporates relevant, pop culture examples, Moneythink equips urban students with the skills to face real world financial challenges. Moneythink aims to make financial capability a social norm in the United States by 2030.

Effective communication is essential to my role because I oversee 28 university chapters and over 300 college volunteers. It’s my duty to communicate changes, updates and information to our college volunteers, and to collect data from each of our chapters. Based on the information collected, I search for common problems and identify potential solutions. With four years of experience as a Moneythink college volunteer and a chapter leader, I have a strong understanding of what happens within a chapter.

To innovate, I’ve shared best practices with similar peer mentor organizations, such as Globemed, Peer Health Exchange, and Nourish International. I’d recommend learning from other organizations in a similar space to save time and find out what works and doesn’t work. We’ve adopted some of their systems and practices, but adapted them, so that they fit our culture.


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2) What experiences helped you develop those skills and ways of thinking?

I was very fortunate to start one of the first Moneythink chapters at the University of Southern California. The problems I faced when starting a chapter are similar to the problems that our chapters are currently facing. I provide advice and guidance to chapters based on my previous experience and am able to quickly identify red flags.

Reading books about Disney’s top-class customer service and Zappos’ culture have also shaped my perspective; I’ve taken what some of the best companies have done and integrated those into our organization. When communicating with chapter leaders, I try to keep them engaged by keeping my phone calls and emails as clear, concise, and compelling as possible, while keeping my messages deliberate with proactive and forward-thinking action steps. The goal is to always be moving forward.

What do you think Chirag’s reflection means for education?