Plutus Foundation 2020 Year In Review

As 2020 comes to a close, the Plutus Foundation team is grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the past year. Despite all the challenges this world has been facing, we’re happy to be able to head into 2021 with accomplishments.

First, on a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone on the Plutus Foundation team and the Plutus Awards team who contributed at any point over the past year. With the pandemic upending personal lives as well as our organization’s plans for 2020, the foundation’s projects and programs could have had significantly different outcomes. I appreciate everyone’s hard work, determination, and flexibility.

Harlan Landes headshot
Charlotte Baker
Sherrian Crumbley
Lance Cothern
Bethany McCamish
Ashley Barnett
Sarah Potter
Kayla Sloan headshot

Here’s a look back at what we accomplished in 2020 and the adjustments we made to continue to serve our mission — to provide grants and other resources to financial influencers as they spread the message of financial capability, empowerment, literacy, and independence.

This year in review will include updates on our grants, our expanded featuring of financial influencers including the new Plutus Community, our live virtual events, the Plutus Awards Jobs Exchange, the Plutus Awards Podcast, the 11th Annual Plutus Awards presented by Capital Group, and looking forward to 2021.

The Plutus Foundation awarded a record number of grants.

The members of our community — financial bloggers, podcasters, authors, influencers, speakers, and media professionals of all types — work hard in and with their communities to spread financial literacy through creative programs, projects, and techniques. We want to support many of these great ideas and help our community find success. Twice a year, we open the request for proposal window and review applications for grants.

The Plutus Foundation supports these programs with seed money and other types of funding or reimbursement, program development guidance, and marketing and administrative assistance, determined by the needs of the program. We chose six projects in 2020.

While we usually use our grant budget to support in-person financial literacy programs developed by members of our community, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in fewer in-person events and more virtual and online projects.

One of the six chosen projects is indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic. Here are the remaining projects we supported this year. Be sure to read the latest updates from these grant programs, linked below.

Tara Falcone
Kevin L. Matthews II headshot
Stephanie Pyke
Danielle Desir photo
Acquania Escarne photo
Jacob Wade

Through Girl Scouts Get Fin LIT, ReisUP presents web-enabled and video-based personal finance programming with Girl Scouts’ Southeastern New England chapter in order to help members earn their financial literacy badges.

Kevin Matthews’ BuildingBread will conduct a series of workshops in Tulsa, Oklahoma, focused on custodial accounts and 529 college savings plans to first-time parents with children under the age of one.

Money Lit, created by Stephanie Pyke, will be publishing a financial literacy curriculum for use by homeschooling parents and teachers.

Millennial Wealth Builders helps women of color between the ages of 24 and 39 learn practical strategies to build wealth through an audio docuseries produced by Danielle Desir and Acquania Escarne.

Jacob Wade from iHeartBudgets has been working hard to keep an up-to-date resource for those who have lost their income, job, or are in any way financially impacted by the current health crisis.

Previous grant recipients saw their programs succeed.

At the 11th Annual Plutus Awards, grant manager Sherrian Crumbley shared the latest updates from our grant recipients. Watch the video here.

This year, we also launched our Plutus Foundation Grants Hub, where you can learn more about applying and qualifying for our grants as well as see the accomplishments and achievements of all of our grant recipients.

We highlighted and engaged with our community in new ways.

Seeing the need to continue to build ways for our diverse community of financial influencers and content producers to communicate and collaborate in a healthy, comfortable, and open setting, we have begun expanding the Plutus Community on Facebook.

Membership in this growing group is open to financial content creators, literacy advocates, media professionals, and industry friends of all backgrounds and experience levels.

Women in financial media, FIRE bloggers

Rich and Regular
Tiffany Aliche
The Budget Mom
Lindsay Bryan-Podvin
Timika Downes
Holly Johnson
Financially Alert
Lillian Karabaic
Go Curry Cracker
Natalie Torres Hadad

This year, we highlighted some exceptional content creators, including these FIRE bloggers and these women killing it in financial media.

Our Instagram takeovers raised your voices.

This year, we featured a number of special guests who took over our Instagram stories for live takeovers. We highlighted Tori (@herfirst100k), Chonce (@mydebtepiphany), Kevin (@familymoneyadventure), Athena (@moneysmartlatina), and many more from our community.

We hosted many live virtual events featuring our community's expertise.

Our original plan for 2020 called for bringing our latest Plutus Voices events to cities potentially including Los Angeles, Portland, Phoenix, Detroit, Orlando, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.

With COVID-19 keeping people safe at home, we have postponed these events until the time is right to gather in person again. The Plutus Foundation took the opportunity to present a number of live webinars or interactive video interviews to talk about important topics, like the pandemic’s effect on unemployment, systemic issues and money, and social media.

We livestreamed these events across multiple platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Here is a selection of these events.

To watch of any of our fourteen live events from 2020, access the Plutus Foundation Webinars Hub or view our YouTube playlist.

The Plutus Awards team launched a jobs exchange.

Visit the Plutus Awards Jobs Exchange if you are looking to hire or to be hired in the financial media. Featured job listings have included virtual assistants, social media managers and associates, writers and editors, and more.

Job seekers may upload resumes, apply for positions, and receive job alerts. Job providers may submit featured listings, search resumes, and also receive alers.

The Plutus Awards Podcast premiered Series 2 with host Chris Browning and Series 3 with host Sarah Li Cain.

This year, we highlighted our community through sharing their inspiring stories. Sarah Li Cain assumed the duties of Plutus Awards Podcast host in the weeks leading up to the 11th Annual Plutus Awards. Here were some of our favorite episodes from 2020.

The Plutus Awards Showcase highlights the week's best articles and episodes from the community.

Every Friday, the Plutus Awards team looks for the best new articles, posts, podcast episodes, and videos from throughout the world of financial media. We bring the five best to you each week. Sometimes, the articles are focused around a theme, but usually, we are just looking for excellent content.

Catch the latest Showcase and submit your latest and greatest pieces for consideration.

The 11th Annual Plutus Awards presented by Capital Group was a delightful success!

Deep into the pandemic, it’s no surprise that the world has been tiring of virtual events. When COVID-19 forced the Plutus Awards team to think about changing our approach to the Plutus Awards ceremony, normally a live, in-person celebratory event with hundreds in the audience, we wanted to make sure that we could put together a semi-live event that would turn our community’s social isolation into a fun experience for everyone, regardless of their other involvement in the community.

The Plutus Awards Panel developed some well-considered changes to the slate of awards categories this year. And in a year where our community was focused on health, safety, and diversity, it was important to all of us that the Awards reflected our values.

Host Joe Saul-Sehy and a team of co-presenters put together a quick-paced virtual awards ceremony that let our community shine. The theme for this year’s ceremony was Togetherness. While we could not be together in person, our special virtual ceremony brought everyone together and reminded us all the importance of finding community.

Speaking of our community, in additional to celebrating the best of the best with awards in about thirty categories — you can view the finalists and winners here — we continued our tradition of featuring the joyful personal milestones for many in our community.

But before the 11th Annual Plutus Awards Ceremony was live on November 13, we hosted a virtual happy hour for our Plutus Awards finalists (on October 2) and shared a fun “Dress Down” video to create some hype for the awards. Trivia: This would have been our community’s contribution to the viral “Don’t Rush Challenge,” but we changed the music to avoid infringing copyright.

This year, the Awards Ceremony kicked off with a special Green Carpet event. This was a chance to hear from some of our celebrity finalists right as they were “entering the theater.” Joe Saul-Sehy, Miranda Marquit, and I asked the important questions. This fun look at the community set the tone for the awards ceremony that immediately followed.

If you weren’t able to catch the 11th Annual Plutus Awards Ceremony live, you can still watch the entire event. Skip ahead to your favorite category, watch special guests Clark Howard, Jordon Cox, and Joe’s Mom have some fun with our host, and see who took home the big awards.

Memorable highlights included a puppet show, a confused Jordon, and Jerry O. Brown’s vocal talents.

The Plutus Foundation thanks our team and our supporters.

Capital Group continued to partner with the Plutus Foundation as the headline partner for the 11th Annual Plutus Awards and the national partner for Plutus Voices. We can’t thank Capital Group and their agency, Golin, enough for their support in a year where the pandemic has significantly changed the form of our events.

As written above, the Foundation and Awards teams have worked so hard to create projects, support this community, and get the word out about all that we do. Thank you to all who have helped, whether it was in the form of organizing a series of virtual events or stepping in to run an Instagram takeover.

And I would like to offer a big round of applause to everyone who has made a financial contribution to the Plutus Foundation. Contributions go directly to the programs we support and operate. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, your contributions are tax-deductible.

Thanks especially to all who have initiated an automatic monthly contribution. You, too, can support the Plutus Foundation with a monthly or one-time contribution.

You can donate or sell your blog or other property to the Plutus Foundation. There may be tax advantages for doing so. Contact us for more information.

We're looking ahead to the next year.

Like The Who, I’ve got a feeling ’21 is going to be a good year. We can’t wait to get back together in person for events like Plutus Voices and the 12th Annual Plutus Awards.

Until we can announce a return to live, in-person events, we will continue our online/virtual projects like live webinars, interactive interviews, and the Plutus Awards Podcast With Sarah Li Cain.

We will expand our Plutus Community.

We will continue to grow the initiatives mentioned above and will announce several new projects which are currently in development.

We will award more grants, sponsorships, and scholarships to support the great work our community producers.

We will build on our success in 2020 by adding to our team. Watch our social media channels to hear about the new positions for which we will be hiring in the near future (paid positions and internships) as well as volunteer opportunities.

We will listen to you. What can the Plutus Foundation do to support your success as a financial influencer, speaker, or content creator? Contact us now and let us know.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a safe and healthy 2021!

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