Enlighten Angle Financial Group is bringing financial literacy to Columbus children
A Columbus educator advises children on social, emotional spending habits and saving tips
For Tia Johnson, understanding the concept of money is like tying your shoes. Once you learn how to do it, it’s with you forever. That’s why she created Enlighten Angle Financial Group, a financial wellness educator that teaches kids finance basics by the time they ditch Velcro.
The inspiration for her company came from what she wished was around growing up—a solid financial education. She always knew how to make money, and even had her own paper route by age 11 but realized as an adult that it’s not always about making money, it’s about keeping it.
In 2013, Johnson began taking classes at the Women’s Business Center and sought out mentorship while considering leaving her corporate job. She craved a job she felt passionate for but wanted to ensure she could still put food on the table.
By 2017, she not only furthered her education to become a loan originator, but she had an idea for a business that teaches kids to be financial experts. In 2018, she founded Enlighten Angle Financial Group. Johnson is also the founder of Fresh Bloom Bins, a trash can and dumpster cleaning service.
Since, Enlighten Angle has partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Westerville City Schools, Outward Bound and Columbus City Schools and has served 750 students.
Enlighten Angle’s staple program is Be Rich Academy, an eight-week series of one-hour financial literacy workshops that can be catered to elementary, middle school and high school students. Aside from teaching the basics, it also offers lessons in financial psychology and social-emotional learning.
“We talk about some of the basics of what we believe about ourselves, about money, how we budget, the lifestyle choices that we choose,” Johnson says, “if we start to learn those concepts early, you won’t feel like you’ve lost something.”
One of Johnson’s favorite programs is what she calls KWR, a conversational session where she asks students what they know about money and what they hope to learn. Through catered lessons, students can see how factors outside of money, like emotions and experiences, factor into how we spend, she says.
Johnson is the only employee of Enlighten Angle, but she hires contracted employees as needed. Following COVID, her lessons went virtual.
And while her wheelhouse has been teaching students, in 2020 she was recruited by the Wellness Initiative team at Columbus City Schools to create financial programming for the staff. The Wellness Initiative regularly partners with local economically disadvantaged enterprises, or LEDE Certified Vendors, to offer a series of inclusive programs for staff and students.
Johnson couldn’t have come at a better time, says Smita Yerramilli, a wellness consultant for the program.
“COVID has been such a difficult time for people emotionally, but financially it’s caused such an economic strain on everybody,” Yerramilli says. “Her coaching sessions are all virtual ... she really focuses on the convenience and what works for staff and meets them where they are at.”
Enlighten Angle’s staff programs are meant to decrease the anxiety around managing finances. Since launching the program, it has helped over 200 employees. Johnson has also added similar programs for parents.
For Columbus City Schools Wellness Coordinator Jacqueline Broderick Patton, Johnson’s courses have been successful for her ability to be relatable and meet people where they’re at.
“We have roughly 10,000 employees and are very diverse,” Patton says. “I really appreciate that she’s a LEDE-owned business, a woman-owned business and a woman of color.”
So far, Johnson has logged over 2,500 coaching hours. In the future, she hopes to offer micro-loans for small businesses, and above all else, help others unlock financial stability.
“You don’t have to go into a career field around finance to understand how it plays into all these other areas of your life and affects the quality of your life that you have,” Johnson says. “You only get one [life] so you might as well live it to the best quality.”
Enlighten Angle Financial Group
Business: An education platform to teach healthy financial habits for K-12 students, parents and employees through real-life lessons and programming.
Founder and CEO: Tia Johnson
2021 revenue: Would not disclose.