Finance Is At The Heart Of Opportunity

Finance Is At The Heart Of Opportunity

We believe finance is at the heart of opportunity.

We are making a difference. The numbers prove this.

Girls who have participated in our workshops have had an 84 percent increase in their comprehension of financial concepts. They are changing their college searches and major/minor declarations to include finance, accounting and business where before they hadn’t even considered these fields.

We are the M in STEM.

Access to STEM education is access to power. STEM professions are tools to lift people out of poverty.  We recently attended the White House Conference on Inclusive STEM Education, where this conference reinforced our belief that students look to DO what they SEE examples of and RTSWS offers them such examples.  Our female financial professionals, who are our classroom instructors and work in careers in the M in STEM are “in the flesh” role models for our students. Our instructors can talk the talk and walk the walk in the field of finance, where women represent only 6% of the leaders.

With RTSWS programming, high school girls are being engaged in the bigger picture and the ability to envision their financial futures for themselves, their families and their communities. They explore careers in finance, where the jobs are growing each year. Volunteer female financiers who are our instructors, bring the RTSWS curriculum and their life experience right onto the high school campuses at times that are optimal for the students – usually before or after school hours. The students also have a Wall Street experience field trip to a local financial institution where they get to see and ask questions of the women bankers, accountants, wealth advisors, portfolio managers and comptrollers. In some schools, we offer, too, a formal mentor/protege program.

We alert the girls about how high the return on investment is on just an undergraduate degree in finance, economics and business as compared to other undergraduate majors. This is critical to those students who do not have the financial wherewithal to attend graduate school. We also have students in our classes who are not college bound.

Forty years after the adoption of Title IX, women continue to confront barriers to full equality at all levels. Most critically of which is in their financial lives. In high school AND college finance and economics classrooms, girls are few in number. As a result, their opportunities in pay and promotion and life are unequal. Equipping girls with financial skills is a VITAL part of both ensuring equality and lifting them out of poverty.

A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. The share was just 11% in 1960.  Many of these families are living at or below the poverty level and with financial education, like RTSWS, young women are becoming empowered to break the cycle that reinforces continuing poverty.  RTSWS programs expose opportunities for gainful employment across the country and serves as a pipeline for career exploration into the financial services industry and financial departments of all major corporations.

Many of our students do not have positive role models at home on how to use money. Partnering with schools and youth-oriented civic organizations and “going to them” enables us to reach students on their campus at a critical age in their self-actualization and first time usage of money.

Rock The Street, Wall Street (RTSWS) programs inspire, educate, and equip girls with the skills to succeed financially throughout their lives while exploring a career in finance.  RTSWS is a financial literacy program designed to spark the interest of high school girls into careers of finance.

Busting Open The Doors To Finance

Busting Open The Doors To Finance

I had the opportunity to participate in a program, Rock the Street Wall Street at my high school. Rock The Street busts open the doors of finance to girls. Over the course of four classroom workshops led by female financial professionals, my classmates and I learned about paycheck deductions, 401k’s, financial plans and how to read stock stats. More broadly, we learned about how two out of every three women state they know little to nothing about finance and we learned about the lack of women in leading positions in the financial services industry where women represent only 6% of the leaders.

Very few high school girls are exposed to this type of program that helps girls discover the world of finance. Not only did we have classes on savings and investments led by female financial professionals; we also had a Wall Street experience field trip to the Nasdaq offices in Times Square in New York. There, we stood witness to the stock market opening bell. The enthusiasm and excitement in the room was amazing! Watching the stocks fluctuate in value, the ringing, the confetti…  I left wanting to return the next day. It was truly an amazing, once in a lifetime experience… Well, hopefully not once in a lifetime.

After the bell ringing, my classmates and I were escorted upstairs to one of the Nasdaq event rooms where we met women from TD Ameritrade. They had assembled there as guest panelists for a discussion on their college and career paths. Each professional showed that they have a passion for their job. Listening about the paths they have taken to get to their current positions was inspiring.

During the panel discussion, we were given the opportunity to have our questions answered.  For example, the question was asked “What is one of the more challenging areas in this career field,” and we got responses like, “Making yourself belong in a work field full of men”. We also heard, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” and “Earn your respect.”  Good advice for those of us who are now considering entering into the world of finance and business. We learned that women need to be as confident as men. Take risks. Girls don’t think that they can have the same income as men one day. We don’t think that it’s possible to rise to the same positions as men. Seeing and hearing the women of TD Ameritrade however, has opened our eyes to these possibilities. With motivation and hard work some have reached senior level positions just as the men have.

The managers on the panel also offered us insight into their hiring practices. Students asked how the managers select who they hire. Each had a different take on their answers.  Tips that came our way included: “Have a professional looking resume” and “Be confident and well organized.” With these few questions answered, these women gave us a step up which will help us later on when looking for a job, whether it’s after high school or after college.

All of us left the Nasdaq offices with sparkles in our eyes. Rock the Street Wall Street opened our eyes and ears to the vast number of rewarding job opportunities available in finance. It’s really up to us, the students, to become future financial managers or economic experts. We need to share our experience with other WC Bryant students who have not yet had this thrilling exposure to a new world and run to it! Run to it and do the unexpected. Hopefully, the percentage of women who fully participate in their family’s finances and the number of women who go into finance or start their own businesses will grow and grow. I plan on being among those women, part of that movement, and will study finance and business in college and start my own business one day. I will make a promise that in the future, you will see me ringing the stock market bell as my company becomes listed on the Nasdaq exchange.

Know this, too – it was Rock the Street Wall Street that has given me this inspiration.

Jenae Colon, (2nd from left), student at WC Bryant High School in Long Island City, NY, receiving her Rock The Street, Wall Street certificate and author of this article. 

What a year it’s been! The White House, NASDAQ, expansion to our fifth city.

What a year it’s been! The White House, NASDAQ, expansion to our fifth city.

The White House, NASDAQ, expansion to our fifth city.

WASHINGTON, DC – Rock the Street, Wall Street’s trip to The White House.

NEW YORK CITY, NY – WC Bryant High School field trip to NASDAQ

DALLAS/FT. WORTH, TX, (our fifth city) – Byron Nelson High School field trip to TD Ameritrade corporate office

BRENTWOOD, TN – Ravenwood High School field trip to Jackson National Life Insurance Company corporate office and visiting with the CEO.

NASHVILLE, TN -Metro Nashville Public Schools and Williamson County Public Schools take at field trip to UBS Solutions center in Nashville, TN.

Rock the Street, Wall Street founder, Maura Cunningham, featured on “Behind the Bell” with Meg Modic on the day we rang the closing bell at NASDAQ.

We teach girls how to invest in themselves.

Your gift will last a lifetime… and then some. Both sons and daughters are impacted by mom’s money management.


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We Rang the Closing Bell at Nasdaq!

We Rang the Closing Bell at Nasdaq!

It has been an exciting fall semester at Rock The Street, Wall Street (RTSWS)!

We thought a trip to White House in October was the bee’s knees! Then, last week, we were invited to ring the Closing Bell at Nasdaq on Friday, December 2nd.

RTSWS Students Tour NASDAQ

Watch RTSWS in action as we ring the market closing bell in the video below. Skip to the 2:25 minute mark to bypass the Times Square footage. (Where we’re 7 stories tall!)

A group of young women from WC Bryant High School, participants in our NYC program, had the opportunity to tour the Nasdaq Market Site in Times Square.

During the tour, the students learned more about the ins and outs of trading and how Nasdaq operates as one of the largest electronic stock exchanges in the world.

The tour was then followed by a trip to the board room where an all female panel of TD Ameritrade financial professionals answered questions and shared their experiences with the girls giving them real world perspectives and applications on how finance can impact their lives. The professionals also advised the students to study business while in high school to give them a competitive edge in their college classrooms.

It was an impactful experience for our students. Here are a few pictures from the day.

W.C. Bryant girls with at NASDAQ

Interview with Megan Modic

RTSWS also had the opportunity to sit down with Megan Modic, of The Millennial Report, Nasdaq, in the series Behind The Bell, to discuss the mission of RTSWS, what is coming up in 2017, and how you can help RTSWS bring this program and financial literacy to many more young girls throughout the country.

Watch the interview below.

Where Do Our Investment Monies Go and What It’s Like To Work at TDA

Where Do Our Investment Monies Go and What It’s Like To Work at TDA


After four weeks of learning how to evaluate the business models and underlying stocks of 2 companies, Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme, our Dallas/Ft. Worth students got to SEE the business of supporting hundreds of billions of dollars in client assets and the 400,000 plus daily customer trades that flow through the multiple TD Ameritrade trading platforms. The girls learned about the flow of funds and how TDA, through use of use of technology, revolutionized the financial services sector with fintech and built one of the largest online trading companies in the world.


Daphne Hatterman, Senior Manager, Payment Services and Carita Blocker, Relationship Manager, Human Resources, welcomed the girls and then outlined the story of how TDA grew through the use of fintech and how the firm weathered the ups and downs of the stock market including the 2007-2009 financial crisis, government regulation and investors’ changing preferences.


The students then took a tour of the Payment Services department, where they learned how being a team member goes a long way in getting a job done. They met department managers and staff who work together in accomplishing company and personal productivity goals.


Claudia Gross, Government Reporting Manager with students – on their way to the floor – where all the action is! While on the floor, the girls huddled with: Courtney McGill – Tax Services; Jennifer Lewis – Banking Ops/Loss Prevention; Lisa Newkirk – Advisor Relations; and Val White – Retail Trading.


Daphne Hatterman escorting the students through the various departments of TDA in Dallas/Ft. Worth and sharing with them her own story of how she came to work in the financial services sector.


After the office tour, the girls got to hear from four financial professionals, (Moderator – Emily Jackson, Team Manager, Retirement Account Services, Brokerage Ops; Rachel Bradford – Sr. Manager, Trading Ops; Harriet Carvalho, Team Manager, Institutional Brokerage Services, Advisor Relationships; Val White, Manager, Retail Trading). The panelists discussed their college and career paths, what a typical day at the office looks like for them, their challenges and triumphs in their careers, working in the M of STEM, post college education and tuition reimbursement policies.


One of our students, who had been asking excellent questions throughout the day, asked a zinger of one to the panelists. She asked, “How do you go about asking for a raise?” The answers included:

  • Your supervisor probably has 5 or more people reporting to her. So, be aware that you will have to toot your own horn when it comes to being monetarily rewarded.
  • Document your work, achievements and how you contributed to solutions and advancements.
  • Your supervisor will respect you MORE and not less for having asked for that raise. She now knows you expect more so she can expect more out of you as a team player and as an emerging leader.


As the field trip came to a close, the founder of RTSWS, Maura K. Cunningham, presented the girls with their Certificate of Completion for having finished their RTSWS series of workshops. They can now add this distinction to their college applications, intern and job resumes.

Byron Nelson High School girls on their way back to school. All the wiser now with a financial services industry field trip under their belts and a copy of The Money Queen’s Guide, by Cary Carbonaro. They are on the road to personal financial responsibility, employing their stock analysis skills and exploring a career in finance.