Girls Invest

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Girls Invest


Financial Literacy and Economic Empowerment is Critical to Sexual and Reproductive Health Among Adolescent Girls



Girls Invest is a program to reduce economic vulnerability and poor health outcomes among adolescent girls from low-income backgrounds. Girls in this program are linked to a savings account that provides an initial deposit of $100 based on completion of an app-based financial literacy training. GirlsInvestPic

The program aims to reduce economic vulnerability and increase girls’ financial knowledge to support economic and career development via innovative technology (videos, gaming dynamics). The intervention covers basic financial literacy (e.g. loans, interest, credit cards, educational loans), and
gender-specific topics (e.g., money, power, and relationships; gender roles and girls’ education). As girls advance through the five levels, they are provided with funds deposited into a savings account, totaling $100.

The development of Girls Invest was in response to our recent study findings highlighting the role of economic vulnerability in risk for STI and pregnancy among adolescent girls at the US-Mexico border. We found that economic vulnerability, including food insecurity, may not only place girls at increased risk for health concerns related to obesity and diabetes, but also create increased vulnerabilities in relationships with male partners. Our work shows that economic vulnerability increases reliance and even dependence on male partners rather than girls’ families for supporting basic needs. Economic reliance on males increases girls’ vulnerability to male partner control over pregnancy and sexual decision-making (e.g. condom use). In addition, we found that economic vulnerability can create low expectations of economic or career opportunities, which can shift girls’ priorities away from their future training and education, and decrease intentions to delay pregnancy.

Girls Invest will begin to highlight the utility of economic empowerment approaches to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes among adolescent girls in the US. Girls Invest will also increase our knowledge of how to apply technology-based interventions that are often more cost-effective, scalable, and accessible than traditional in-person intervention delivery methods.



Self Help Federal Credit UnionClinical and Translational Research InstituteLa Maestra Community Health CentersSan Diego State University







Additional Project Investigators

Guadalupe “Suchi” Ayala, PhD, MPH, Professor of Public Health,  Director of the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health, San Diego State University
Ning Tang, PhD, College of Business Administration, San Diego State University

Project Staff

Alma Behar, Jasmin Garcia, Vero Gonzalez, Vinton Omaleki, Chirag Palesha, Marissa Salazar, Ricardo Vera-Monroy

Contact Information

Elizabeth Reed, ScD, MPH