Empowering Young Minds: The Story Behind Mason Makes Money Fund

By: Tabitha Howard

Are you ready to embark on a journey of empowerment and entrepreneurship? Imagine a world where young minds are not only inspired but equipped with the fundamental tools to shape their own financial destinies. This vision is precisely what drove Candace Okin, a seasoned writer and visionary, to create the Mason Makes Money Fund.It all began with a children’s book, “Mason Makes Money,” penned by Candace and published in 2020. This captivating tale doesn’t just entertain – it educates. Through its pages, readers are guided through the essential concepts of entrepreneurship and money management, igniting a spark of curiosity and ambition in the hearts of children and parents alike.

But Candace’s journey didn’t stop there. Fueled by the enthusiastic feedback from families who resonated deeply with her book, she recognized an opportunity to make an even greater impact. Thus, the Mason Makes Money Fund was born.Driven by her passion for youth empowerment and leveraging her extensive experience in the nonprofit sector, Candace established the Fund in 2020. Its mission? To provide entrepreneurial and money management education to young minds hungry for knowledge and opportunity.

At the heart of the Mason Makes Money Fund lies a commitment to action. Through a grant cycle offered three times a year, youth entrepreneurs are given the chance to receive a $500 grant to fuel their business dreams. It’s not just about financial support – it’s about nurturing ambition, fostering innovation, and cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.But perhaps the most inspiring aspect of Candace’s story is her unwavering dedication to the cause. Despite juggling a successful writing career, family life, and the demands of running a nonprofit, Candace remains steadfast in her mission to empower young business owners and future leaders.

As we delve deeper into Candace’s journey and the impact of the Mason Makes Money Fund, we invite you to join us on this transformative adventure. Together, let’s unlock the potential within every young mind and build a brighter, more prosperous future for generations to come.

What sparked your interest in teaching children about entrepreneurship and money management through literature, and how has your journey in writing influenced your approach?

Candace : After experiencing a financial hardship, I wanted to use my experience as a teachable moment for my young son. I wrote and published a children’s book, Mason Makes Money, as a tool to help him understand the basics of money management through the lens of entrepreneurship. I was so inspired by the responses I got from parents who had read the book to their children, that I decided to create a nonprofit to keep the conversation going. What sparked my interest was the kids’ interest, and writing was the springboard from which everything has transpired.

Could you share a memorable experience or feedback from a parent or child who has been impacted by Mason Makes Money, either through the book or the programs offered by the fund?

Candace: The first thing I thought about was the feedback from a grant winner’s parent, who was obviously very happy. But perhaps the most memorable was the parent of a young entrepreneur who did NOT receive the award. The parent told me how much of a blessing she considered the Fund to be, even with just the process of applying and interviewing. That was memorable for me because that was my goal. I want every aspect of the program to be a teachable moment for those involved, and even though the young entrepreneur did not win, to hear her parent say it was a great learning experience was a wonderful thing to hear. Also, Mason Makes Money Fund started offering in person workshops in partnership with the Harris County Public Library. One student in particular attended, and was very engaged, but was adamant in stating that the clothes she knitted was only for family and friends. By the time our four part workshop was over, she was accepting orders from customers! That was a memorable experience as well.

Can you tell us more about the grant cycle offered by Mason Makes Money Fund and how it has impacted the young entrepreneurs who have received support through this initiative?

Candace: Three times a year, we offer a grant cycle, where young entrepreneurs can apply and be interviewed for the chance to be awarded a $500 grant for their business, and a business strategy session valued at $40,000! We’ll soon be funding our seventh young entrepreneur. It has impacted them in several ways: 1. It reinforces that their dreams and aspirations are possible. 2. It provides valuable guidance and information to help cultivate them as current and future successful business owners. 3. It prepares them for future bigger opportunities. For instance, if they go to a bank to apply for a loan, or if they apply for other grant opportunities, they would have had this experience to draw upon for knowledge, and for confidence.

As a parent yourself, how do you balance teaching your own children about financial literacy while also leading initiatives to support youth entrepreneurship on a larger scale?

Candace: I believe everything is a teachable moment, and as long as we’re aware and conscious, we can seize and harness those moments. Simple practices like grocery shopping can be a lesson in staying within your budget. With my son, I reward him with good conduct in school by giving him a dollar. He will pick out a toy or something he’d like to buy, and we practice saving for it. Through this process, he understands earning money, saving money, and shopping for the best price. We also have monthly budget conversations (my husband and I) which I sometimes allow my son to attend. We’re teaching him the importance of communicating about money, planning, and routine management. So in summation, I remain conscious to everyday things I can use to teach him financial literacy.

How do you envision the future of Mason Makes Money Fund evolving to further support and empower young entrepreneurs, especially in light of the challenges posed by the current economic climate?

Candace: In light of the challenges posed by the current economic climate, I foresee MMMF only becoming more successful. I feel more people will get behind supporting kids building their own economy, and understanding principles of business. Equipped with that information and experience, you will always have a job because of your ability to create one. America is very pro “hard work” and “grit”. I can’t think of anything that requires these skills/characteristics more than entrepreneurship. I envision Mason Makes Money Fund expanding our grant cycles to fund more applicants, and continuing to diversify what we offer that young business owners need to thrive.

Can follow and support Candace @ https://www.instagram.com/masonmakesmoneyfund