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Alumna Story: Raising the Bar for Financial Literacy Education

Alumna Story: Raising the Bar for Financial Literacy Education

As President and CEO of the 5 Buckets Foundation, Vicki Terheyden CES'95 is committed to bringing financial literacy education to the masses.

This conversation with Vicki Terheyden CES'95 is part of our Alumni Stories series. To read more inspirational stories of Convent & Stuart Hall graduates and how they’re making their mark, click here.

What are one or two of your fondest memories of your time at Convent?
Two memories stand out. First, Congé. I’m sure a lot of alumni refer to it, but I really love this tradition. Kids (and adults) need a day of fun and surprise, particularly in a school setting. And kudos to the classes that led Congés while the school was closed during the pandemic! I read a recap in The Broadview about the creative ways they made it work.

The second is more of a somber memory, but I recall how the school community came together in the aftermath of the 1989 earthquake when I was in third grade. They were supportive of families like mine that were temporarily displaced and also of a teacher who lost her home entirely. Convent definitely provided a safe and comforting environment during a time of crisis.

How do you describe your new position at the 5 Buckets Foundation?
As the President and CEO, I lead the overall strategy of the organization, as well as fundraising and strategic partnerships with our community and corporate partners. Every day is different, and I’m lucky to be in a job that challenges me to learn and grow in many areas.

What was your career like before this role, and why did you decide to change industries?
Prior to joining 5 Buckets, I spent 10 years in marketing and fundraising at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco. It was terrific to work in a high school setting and get to know a fantastic group of students, families, faculty and alumni, and also help usher in the change from an all-boys institution to a coed one (though I still am an advocate of single-sex learning environments!). I was on the lookout for a new mission that I could immerse myself in, and an opportunity came along with the 5 Buckets Foundation to help raise the bar on financial literacy education in the Bay Area. I believe that financial education is like public health — a lack thereof can impact us all, and we must actively work to make sure all people have access.

Why do you think financial literacy is undertaught in schools and what impact can it have on young people, in particular?
There are probably a variety of reasons that financial literacy is not taught in schools. It could have been replaced by other subjects. As a nation, we haven’t prioritized this knowledge. I also think there is a crisis among adults as well. A 2022 study by the American Psychological Association reported that 65 percent of adults identified money as a significant source of stress. They've done this study year after year, and the percentage keeps rising. If adults are anxious, it is natural for younger generations to follow suit. 

At 5 Buckets, we aim to bridge this gap by partnering with schools and nonprofits to deliver educational workshops. Let’s face it, money can be challenging, even on a good day. We teach the basics of saving, managing and building credit, budgeting, and other topics, but most importantly encourage students to develop an opportunity mindset about money — they have the power to create financial security, achieve their goals and live a life of less stress. This can be empowering for young people, especially as they face rising amounts of educational debt. Everyone, regardless of background or zip code, deserves to start out on the right financial footing.

You work with Nick Lynch SHB'10, a member of the 5 Buckets Foundation Board. What lessons can people learn from your experience connecting with a fellow Convent & Stuart Hall graduate?
Nick and I never crossed paths during our Sacred Heart years, but after first meeting him, it was clear that he values giving back to the community and has been involved in other philanthropic efforts in his career at First Republic Bank. I wasn’t surprised to hear that he was a Stuart Hall graduate! Nick joined the 5 Buckets board in December 2021, and as Treasurer, brings great perspectives to this role, not to mention solid financial acumen and visionary thinking. I think the lesson is that there is often a shared set of values among Sacred Heart graduates.

In addition to your day job, what else keeps you busy?
My husband keeps me busy, and we spend a good amount of time searching for the best pastries in San Francisco. My in-laws live in France, so I am attempting to improve my French language skills (an admittedly slow process). I am grateful for learning the basics during my early Convent years.

What do you think you've carried with you from your Convent days?
Simply put, there is value in opening doors for others where you can. I remember when I relocated back to San Francisco after some time away, even though I hadn’t been active in the Sacred Heart community, I reached out to the then Communications Director Jo Ann Shain to network since I had been working in a similar field. I’ll never forget how welcoming she was to me, and I hope to pay it forward to others.

Photo credit: Luci Valentine Photography