Erika Moore Taylor
Winner of the 2021 Constellation Prize for Financial Literacy and Equity
Photo credit: Erika Moore Taylor
“I was motivated to act to ensure that other historically marginalized and excluded populations were not limited [in their access to engineering education] as a result of their background and lack of knowledge around finances.”
Erika Moore Taylor, an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida and founder of Moore Wealth, is recognized for her contributions to empowering historically excluded students majoring in STEM disciplines with financial literacy.
While engineering degrees often offer some of the largest salaries post-graduation, they require substantial financial burden to access these majors. As she journeyed through some of the top engineering programs in the world, Erika found this to be the case for her: she was accumulating a vast amount of student loan debt. "Studies have shown that if you’re from a historically excluded background in any way, you are going to be more likely to have financial stressors and take on student loans,” says Erika. With this knowledge, she realized that the financial realities of historically excluded students in the US might lead to a disproportionate access to engineering disciplines.
In setting up Moore Wealth, a non-profit organization, Erika has made it her mission to empower historically excluded students in engineering disciplines. Moore Wealth is focused on leveling the playing field by offering scholarships to historically excluded students, and empowering students through financial literacy workshops and seminars.
Through Moore Wealth, Erika injects curriculum related to financial literacy directly within the realm of engineering education to combat the social injustice of the absence of financial literacy. She has sought to enact a curriculum that will address this disparity directly within engineering education. Moore Wealth's partnerships with universities including Johns Hopkins University, North Carolina State University, the University of Washington have helped educate and close the gap of access for students who major in engineering disciplines.