Most people know of John Rogers, Jr, if they are aware of him at all (he is low key and humble about his noteworthy accomplishments), as the pioneering chairman and founding CEO of Ariel Capital, which became the first multi-billion dollar investor of private sector funds into the mainstream market (featuring amongst others, the very successful Ariel Mutual Funds), led by an African-American. Others know John Rogers, Jr. as a close friend and supporter of President Barack Obama.
I know a different, but not an inconsistent John Rogers, Jr.
The John that I know, and have known on some level for 20 years, partnered together with Charles Schwab & Co to produce a then groundbreaking study on the net worth differences between like-income, like-educated mainstream (Caucasian), African-American and Latino middle class Americans. The differences in net worth between the racial classes was stark and startling, with much attributed to "what" people did with their money, more so that "how much" they actually earned. In other words, John was pushing financial literacy empowerment before it had a formal name and definition. I personally remember this study being one of the influencers that pushed me to call for more silver rights in American life, in addition to civil rights, in the lives of low-wealth Americans; including the black and brown middle class.
But even before this study, John was fully engaged in moving the needle for inner city and low-wealth youth, living and going to school in under-served communities. He created the Ariel Community Academy and actually invested his own real money to make financial literacy real for students. Every year, students are able to take $20,000 or more and invest it in the market, while learning invaluable lessons around financial literacy and financial capability. Even better, the school (not surprisingly) is high performing too. Read the complete story on John's school here.
These days John Rogers, Jr. is publicly known as Chairman Rogers, or chairman of President Obama's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, where I am honored to serve alongside of him as a member. This said, it is entirely likely that John's greatest legacy is already in play; I am talking about all those young bright lights who attend and have graduated from his school, truly "wealthy" in the way that matters most; internal. Wealthy in spirit, self-esteem, and capital. The dictionary defines "capital" as coming from the root Latin word "capitas," or "knowledge in the head." A very fitting definition here. These kids may be broke on occasion, but they will never be poor again. Just imagine if a mere 10% of American business leaders did the same. We would turn America around in an instance.
Onward and with HOPE
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and a Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum.