Ally Financial: Gamasutra-Fintropolis uses Minecraft to teach college kids about money


In the summer of 2019, Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) challenged four historically black college and university (HBCU) interns to devise a way to teach college kids about money so they’re ready to lead financially healthy lives.

Today, Ally launches her answer to that challenge – Fintropolis,, a new world in the mega-bit Minecraft video game, designed to teach financial concepts. Fintropolis is available for Minecraft and Minecraft: Education Edition.

Financial literacy rates in the we have been declining since 2009. Less than a third of adults aged 18 to 54 can answer basic personal finance questions, creating an urgency for new approaches to early financial education. This critical issue became the focus of four interns hired as part of Ally’s 2019 Moguls in the Making student pitch competition, Erin martin from Alabama A&M, Count Perry and Keishon smith of Florida A&M and DeMari Tyner of North Carolina A&T. After research and field studies, the four created the concept and design for Fintropolis, which Ally then brought to market.

“Students who don’t learn to manage money and make smart financial choices will have more difficulty throughout their lives,” said Smith, who was hired by Ally after graduation. “Ally challenged us to find a solution, so we dug and did our homework. We quickly realized that in order to get college kids to pay attention and learn, we had to make it fun and practical. I played Minecraft all through school and knew how much kids from all walks of life loved it. When we tested our concept on students, I was not surprised how quickly they adopted it.

Martin, Perry, Smith and Tyner worked with Ally’s concept development laboratory, MT Studio, and video game developer, Blockworks, to create Fintropolis. As players explore the world of Fintropolis, they learn how to make money, pay taxes, budget, create credit and manage debt, as well as invest. They are also introduced to different careers and how early financial decisions can impact their future. Minecraft: Education Edition also comes with lesson plans for connecting Fintropolis money concepts to the classroom curriculum. Minecraft users can access Fintropolis for free. Watch this short video on to visit Fintropolis.

“When Erin, Earl, Keishon and DeMari pitched their idea, then we knew we had to pursue it,” said Diane morais, President, Personal and Commercial Banking Services at Allied bank. “We experimented with fun, interactive games as a powerful way to teach financial lessons and saw this as a possible cornerstone of this strategy. Now Fintropolis has the potential to give millions of students the knowledge and confidence to make better financial decisions, which can affect their lives in profound ways. ‘

Executive Director of Customer Strategy and Innovation at Ally Emilie Shallal Added: “The whole journey to launch Fintropolis demonstrates how the injection of diverse experiences and perspectives leads to innovative and impactful problem solving. If we are to promote financial and social inclusion, it starts with bringing a wider range of people to the creative table. ‘

Of Detroit in Fintropolis

The four trainee creators of Fintropolis met for the first time in Detroit as contestants at Moguls in the Making 2019, a business pitch competition organized by Ally, artist Big Sean’s The Sean Anderson Foundation and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The annual weekend competition helps promising young entrepreneurs at HBCU bring their ideas to life. Fifty HBCU students are selected from a pool of over 500 applicants, grouped into collaborative teams and mentored by coaches from Ally and other industry leaders. The objective: to develop and present a business plan that promotes economic mobility and improves financial and social inclusion.

Impressed by Martin, Perry, Smith and Tyner creative thinking and presentation skills during the competition, Ally invited the four to join her MT Studio team as interns for the summer. Using a human-centered design methodology, students conducted in-person and over-the-phone interviews with middle school teachers, parents, principals, and students. Their primary and secondary research confirmed that their solutions need to be fun, and preferably game-based, to drive engagement. The result was Fintropolis.

“They came up with a boss solution,” Big Sean said. “Fintropolis is just one example of what HBCU students can do when they have the resources and the platform to make their dreams come true. “

The Upcoming 2021 Mogul Competition will take place on 16 – 19 Sep. Students from ten HBCUs will compete for Ally scholarships and internships.

Loop the lessons

Along with the launch of Fintropolis, Martin, Perry, Smith and Tyner return to their own colleges in Florida, North Carolina and Michigan to show the world in Minecraft, they helped create and share the lessons they learned along their journey from college student to ‘Mogul’ to innovator in financial education. In addition to visiting students and teachers, the four will each present a $ 10,000 donation to their Ally schools to meet critical technology and curriculum needs.

Three of the trainees – Tyner, Smith and Perry – were hired by Ally as full time employees. Tyner works as a Data Analytics Analyst while Smith is Associate Technology Operations Analyst and Perry is Quality Assurance Analyst. Martin was a marketing intern at Ally this summer after completing his junior year.

About Allied financial

Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) is a digital financial services company committed to its promise to “do it right” for its consumer, business and enterprise customers. Ally is comprised of an independent auto finance and insurance company, an award-winning direct digital bank (Allied bank, member of the FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, which offers mortgages, personal point-of-sale loans and a variety of deposit and other banking products), a corporate fundraising activity for fund promoters own and middle market companies, as well as brokerage and investment in securities Advisory services. A steadfast ally in all things money, Ally helps people save and earn well, so they can spend on what matters. For more information, please visit and follow @allyfinancial.

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