Summer 2010 at Game Theory Academy

A recent issue of The Economist reported that the percentage of 16-24 year olds in the U.S who are neither in school nor employed has risen from 18% to 24% in the last two years. One in four young people hanging around with nothing to do! The recession continues to limit young people’s opportunities. Game Theory Academy creates one more path to success for the most vulnerable young people in our communities.

Summer Classes 2010. This summer GTA worked with three groups of youth – two at our Oakland office, and one at our partner in San Francisco, Conscious Youth Media Crew. We’ve now served 50 youth this year and plan to surpass last year’s numbers youth thanks to several new partnerships with local foster care and juvenile justice organizations. In July we did a one time workshop at a wellness retreat for a group of foster youth advocates, and a Met West student used GTA vocabulary in his high school graduation speech: “I altered my ways for my best self interest”. Just last week a very clever participant suggested we rename GTA “Economics Anonymous” after a particularly open conversation about how he’d been spending his scarce resources. Needless to say, GTA now owns that URL.

Case Studies. GTA’s real success lies in our participants’ stories. GTA invites alumni to write case studies – modeled after business school teaching models – in which they tell their own stories of important financial or life decisions they have faced. These case studies are then integrated into the GTA curriculum to reinforce and demonstrate the vocabulary and concepts taught in class. We have eight completed case studies in use and three in development, covering identity theft, scam loans, overdraft protection and the tradeoffs between college and a job – just to name a few. Long-term, we hope to publish this case study series for use by teachers and youth organizations outside the GTA orbit. If you’re interested, we can send you samples. Read about how Michael learned the hard way what overdraft protection means; Marcos’s decision to walk away from a fight, for the first time in his life, by applying game theory’s ‘dominant strategy’ concept; and Danielle’s fateful decision to give friends discounts at her retail job, which resulted in a petty theft misdemeanor on her record that makes it nearly impossible to find a mainstream job.