A Note from Actuary and Author Peter Neuwirth, FSA, FCA, host, “Money Mountaineering: The Sharing Economy” — I invite you to tune in for this week’s episode of my podcast and video show, Money Mountaineering, where for 30 minutes, financial experts help us answer the question: What’s your future worth? In the fall of 2023, we launched Season 2, where we focus on the power of the Sharing Economy.
Meet the month’s guest: Freedom Writer Foundation founder, award-winning educator, and bestselling author Erin Gruwell
Our topic: Educating children well is the ultimate sharing economy
About our guest: Freedom Writers founder Erin Gruwell is a teacher, author, and activist fighting for social justice for more than two decades; Erin first gained national attention in 1998 when she and her 150 students appeared on an ABC special–PrimeTime Live–with Connie Chung. Erin’s students – affectionately called the Freedom Writers – came from backgrounds of poverty, gangs, and violence, and many were at risk of dropping out of school due to the school-to-prison pipeline. But, under Erin’s guidance, all 150 Freedom Writers graduated from high school and pursued higher education.
In 1999, Erin and the Freedom Writers published their book, The Freedom Writers Diary, which detailed their unique journey from hardship to hope. The book became a #1 New York Times bestseller and was adapted into a major motion picture, Freedom Writers, starring two-time Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank as Erin. The film brought Erin’s work to an even wider audience, and she has since used her platform to continue her fight for equity and inclusion with her non-profit, the Freedom Writers Foundation.
Erin’s work has been recognized with several humanitarian awards, including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award.
Erin and the Freedom Writers have appeared on multiple television shows to promote educational reform, including Oprah, The View, Good Morning America, and NBC’s TODAY. They have also been featured on National Public Radio, numerous newspapers, and national magazines, such as People. In 2019, Erin and the Freedom Writers were the subjects of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart. Erin also hosts The Freedom Writers Podcast with guests who are authors, activists, and civil rights icons.
In 2022, Erin and the Freedom Writers Foundation released their latest book, Dear Freedom Writer. This critically acclaimed book combines heartfelt letters written by the next generation of student authors with deeply personal responses from the original Freedom Writers. Be it in the classroom, or otherwise, Erin’s powerful message of hope and possibility is sure to resonate with any audience, whom she encourages “to stand up, speak up and speak out.”
About Peter Neuwirth, FSA, FCA: Pete is an actuary specializing in retirement plan issues. He is a 1979 graduate of Harvard College with a BA in Mathematics and Linguistics. After leaving Harvard, he went to work at Connecticut General Life Insurance, now CIGNA, and for the next 38 years, he worked continuously as an actuary holding significant leadership positions at a variety of firms around the country, including most of the major consulting firms (Aon, Hewitt Associates, Watson Wyatt, Towers Perrin and finally Towers Watson). He spent 5 years as a chief actuary at a regional benefits consulting firm (Godwins), 7 years running a small actuarial firm (Coates Kenney), and one year in a large accounting firm (Price Waterhouse). At the end of 2016, he retired from Towers Watson to focus on writing and researching financial wellness issues.
Pete continues researching various financial wellness issues, including using home equity to generate retirement income. In 2018 he taught a graduate seminar on this subject for the actuarial science department at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is currently associated with the Academy for Home Equity in Financial Planning at the University of Illinois.
In addition to his books “Money Mountaineering” and “What’s Your Future Worth?”, his research has been published in professional journals, including the Journal of Deferred Compensation, Contingencies, and Journal of Financial Planning. His articles have also been published in numerous online actuarial web publications. He is a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, Enrolled Actuaries, and Western Pension and Benefits Conference. He is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and the Conference of Consulting Actuaries.