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It’s an age-old story with a twist.

At the age of 9, Marquis Snowden from Lemon Grove decided to save up for something he wanted. But he didn’t stick to modest aspirations like a video game or a bicycle, and he didn’t limit himself to his allowance. Instead, he and his friends sold lemonade and raised more than $1,000 to add a rock-climbing wall to a local playground.

Call it the start of something big. Marquis, who’s now in high school, raised enough money for his class to go to Washington D.C. in eighth grade. Now, he has his mind on teaching his wealth management techniques to other kids. If he does, he’ll have a unique financial education class to thank for the inspiration.

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Marquis learned about money at Mind Treasures, an organization that educates the community on how to attain, manage, and utilize finances, at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center on Euclid Avenue. Alex Mazloom and his wife Nazila Shokohi created the nonprofit and work there full-time. Currently, the classes target 10 inter-city neighborhoods at the corner of Interstate 805 and State Route 94 referred to as the “Diamond Neighborhoods.”

Alex Mazloom’s aspirations weren’t big when the couple founded Mind Treasures in 2006 to teach children to be responsible with their finances. But Shokohi wanted to take the program beyond just money and teach children the values and virtues that she and her husband learned as children.

They call these values the “ABCs of Wealth,” with financial aspects tied into character traits such as patience, responsibility, generosity, truthfulness, moderation, thankfulness, selflessness and more. The classes are provided for people of all ages, with emphasis on children and youth.

The children and youth classes focus on basic details about money such as spending, saving, investing and sharing. The kids are given play money each time they attend class and must choose what to do with it.

Photo courtesy of Mind Treasures

Marquis, who raised money for the rock climbing wall and Washington D.C. Trip, is a perfect example of the program’s capabilities. He says these classes disciplined him on how to save and spend money and encouraged him to talk to his parents about setting up a savings account.

He’s taken other classes at Mind Treasures and isn’t forgetting the lessons he learned about money.

“Don’t go and spend it on any material thing you see at the store. I believe if you have a job and you get money, you should make sure you put part of your money in your savings,” he said. “Take a quarter of it and invest it in something.”

Mind Treasures classes are available to college students, newlyweds, couples and individuals. The classes cover topics like debt, budgeting, credit cards, loans and taxes.

“With a $3,200 donation, we can provide up to 18 hours of essential financial literacy instructions to one class of elementary students — 27 participants — through 12 weekly sessions of 90 minutes each. Mind Treasures’ staff and volunteers conduct these financial literacy workshops as part of daily school schedule in various elementary campuses,” Mazloom said. “Currently all classes are concentrated in the Diamond Neighborhoods in Southeast San Diego.”

For more information on how to help Mind Treasures, visit their website.

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