I get so excited when I see our work making a difference in real people’s lives, on the ground and in community. This is precisely the case with our important partnership in the United Arab Emirates with the Emirates Foundations, led by my friend Clare Woodcraft, CEO of the foundation and a member of our HOPE Global Advisory Board.

In 2013, HOPE Global Initiatives partnered with the Emirates Foundation in the United Arab Emirates to develop a financial literacy program for college students in the UAE. This program is called “Esref Sah”, which means spend wisely, and has been taught at colleges and universities across the country.  This is also the partnership that featured my personal life story, in the pages of the curriculum.My team had a partner call this morning, and I am proud to share that since the launch, Esref Sah has reached over 35,000 students and parents in the UAE!

Shannon Campbell teaches a financial literacy course in the UAE

Shannon Campbell teaches a financial literacy course in the UAE

Below is the official release from July, 2013.

Emirates Foundation Joins Operation Hope to Develop Financial Smarts in the Classroom

JUL 07, 2013

Abu Dhabi, July 7, 2013- In its drive to empower Emirati youth and help them encounter the challenges ahead, the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development in partnership with global financial dignity leader Operation HOPE (HOPE) will create an educational curriculum on financial literacy to be operational in United Arab Emirates universities from the starting next academic year.

The new curriculum, designed and presented in cooperation with the HOPE, is part of the Emirates Foundation’s financial management program “Isrif Sah” (the Arabic translation for “Spend Wisely”).

“We are pleased to join the Emirates Foundation to create Isrif Sah,” said Mary Hagerty Ehrsam President Global Youth Empowerment Group and CEO, New York Market for Operation HOPE. “By assisting the foundation to build curriculums that will help university students develop good financial habits, ultimately we are creating a positive and systemic change to the global community. It is all part of Operation HOPE’s Silver Rights Mission to educate and empower people worldwide.”

Isrif Sah aims to educate Emirati youth on effective financial management, by teaching them good spending and saving habits and helping them avoid the risks of cumulative debts, which is the case with a growing number of young Emiratis according to recent statistics.

The financial literacy curriculum will be introduced into university lesson plans across the country in early October 2013. Presented as a 4.5 hour course aimed at developing the financial acumen of young Emiratis it focuses on financial behavior in relation to lifestyle; concepts of saving; budget planning; the positive and negative impact of syndicated loans; and tips on building successful investment projects. The curriculum is based on the current lifestyle lived by youth in the UAE.

Dr. Sabha Al Shamsi, the Emirates Foundation’s director of Social Inclusion said the new curriculum will be run as part of the Isrif Sah’s Youth to Youth Mentorship Initiative bringing together senior students, teachers and role models to deliver the curriculum to university students.

“Our ambition is to get Isrif Sah to an advanced level whereby students in their final year will be able to teach freshmen. As such it will be a student-based program serving the interest of the students themselves,” Al Shamsi said.

She noted tremendous efforts made by the project team who visited universities and educational institutions acquainting themselves with students’ needs and measuring their reaction to the proposed curriculum.

Team members also attended international conferences on financial literacy, familiarizing themselves with world’s best practices and standards in this field, said Al Shamsi, adding “Operation HOPE was chosen as partner to the project due to its 20 years of expertise in delivering financial literacy and dignity empowerment.”

Isrif Sah Isrif Sah is one of six programs run by the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development. It aims to develop the financial literacy of UAE youth, with a particular focus on the 15 to 25-year age group.

The program addresses personal finance issues specific to young Emiratis and provides the tools to help them enhance their financial planning and management skills and avoid excessive debt.

Isrif Sah embraces three projects:

  • * The Youth Mentoring Project: Designed to train 100 Emirati young people to the level where they can act as mentors to their peers and pass on financial management advice and tips for better savings practices.
  • * The Mobile Bus Project: Maximising Isrif Sah’s impact, and strengthening the Foundation’s community links, by taking financial literacy activities and events to youth, academic and community centers across the country.
  • * The Educational Curriculum Initiative: Incorporating financial education into formal national school lesson plans.

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