Talia Philip

2024 - HOUSTON

Talia Philip, a junior at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas, founded Toolbox ATX, a volunteer-based organization working to promote integration by providing financial literacy and ESL classes to refugee and immigrant communities. Texas, one of the largest refugee resettlement centers in the U.S., received more than 44,000 refugees over the past 10 years, with a growing disparity in resources and security offered to them. Toolbox ATX aims to help these families develop financial independence and communication abilities by assisting them with daily expenses, buying cars, leasing apartments and contributing to the overall social and economic resilience of host communities. Initially, through volunteering with refugee aid organizations, Talia recognized the need for financial literacy and ESL support but a lack of willing volunteers. In response, she started Toolbox ATX to provide immigrants the "tools" needed for financially sustainable lives. Talia developed financial literacy and ESL curricula, creating translated versions to target different ethnic groups. She then recruited volunteers through community organizations, establishing weekly classes at aid organizations around Austin. Toolbox ATX now reaches more than 500 students through 15 community partnerships. Data analysis shows that 98% of students saw an increase in financial knowledge after the program. Moving forward, Talia will continue to organize workshops and classes, expanding Toolbox ATX to her university and other cities by establishing local chapters and leveraging virtual resources for wider reach. She will also set up a permanent partnership with Brookside School, a refugee/immigrant micro-school opening in Austin this fall.