To build something great you first need a solid foundation. Thanks to my parents, my life’s foundation was built on love and positive role modeling that showed me that I could be more than what my external environment wanted me to be. But outside of my parents’ influence, financial literacy literally shaped and saved my life.
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, you didn’t see a lot of prosperity or success that didn’t come with an inherent risk of death or jail time. There weren’t a lot of positive images or lived-out examples that proved you could make it out of the neighborhood and make something of yourself. Before I became a teenager I became well-acquainted with loss and grief, experiencing the loss of my uncle and best friend due to violence. But thanks to a banker who visited my school, I became aware of financial literacy and its power to not only change my life, but the lives of those around me.
Financial literacy literally opened my eyes and my mind to new possibilities and my perspective on life and the world. I got involved with entrepreneurship and began to believe in myself and my ability to do for myself. I applied the principles of saving and investing and began looking at the benefits of the big picture, the long game, and the power of compounding versus than the dangerous lure of getting rich quick.
The power of financial literacy hasn’t gone away. It’s not reserved just for the lucky few. Financial literacy still works today and I want to see it embedded into the American business plan, to the point where every man, woman, boy, and girl is aware of its basic principles and is empowered to build the life that they want to live with what they’ve learned and the skills they’ve acquired.
Last week, Operation HOPE and I announced the beginning of a new initiative, Financial Literacy for All, which seeks to make the dream of financial literacy empowerment a reality for millions of Americans. With the partnership and support of some heavy hitters, including the CEOs of Disney, Walmart, the NBA and NFL, Delta Air Lines, Khan Academy and others, we are determined to make a difference in this area over the next ten years.
You can be a part of the movement too. Visit www.fl4a.org to learn more and sign up to participate in affecting the next great civil rights issue of our time. I look forward to your engagement and participation.
Watch my latest video above to get more insight into my story and how we plan to bring financial literacy to every household in America.