Women of color have higher college completion rates than their male counterparts, but have zero or negative wealth. How is this possible? Well, the current sociopolitical system in America is structured to continually oppress women of color. Since 2007, the median wealth for Black and Latina women is between $100-$120, which is devastatingly low.
Based out of New York, BlackFem, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to building opportunities for women of color so, in the future, they can attain and build wealth. Chloe Mckenzie, the 24 year-old founder and CEO of BlackFem, started this organization after witnessing flaws and gaps in financial services while working as a trader at J.P. Morgan. “I felt as though I was not serving in such a way that I could feel as though I was truly helping those less fortunate,” Chloe explains. Her organization has dedicated programs for girls as young as 3, and women through adulthood.
One of their programs, Money Does Grow on Trees, is centered around saving and compound interest and is taught from Pre-K to 2nd grade. Each participant in this program opens a savings account by the end. One participant, Azariah, left this program knowing how to make a balance sheet and plan out what assets she will have when she gets older. I am pretty sure she knows more than I do about assets and compound interest. The knowledge she is acquiring through these programs is both important and beneficial to her success as she gets older. You go, girl!
The goal is not to make women of color rich, but to provide the necessary tools to break this cycle of oppression and to empower women and girls of color to believe they can be wealthy. Gaining these tools and resources in order to obtain wealth and financial knowledge isn’t just a personal gain, but a generational one. Many women who have participated in the BlackFem programs continually reiterate that this lack of access to financial tools comes from years of denied access for their parents, grandparents, and so on. By gaining this access, they can then pass this knowledge down to their children, so they can utilize these tools and lead a successful life.
BlackFem, additionally, has an At School After School program with a school bank. This program has three essential components: 1) The school bank, where students create student credit reports for their peers at school, 2) the school currency, which students earn as their credit score increases, and 3) the the school store, where students can use their currency to purchase things like school supplies and movie tickets. This program is designed to give the students a hands-on experience with balancing and budgeting money and credit that they have earned through class attendance and homework completion. BlackFem will be partnering with 20 schools in high-poverty communities beginning next school year. To learn more about the after school programs and how you could help, please visit their school offerings page here.
BlackFem’s goal is to help 5,000 women and girls of color by the end of 2017, but they can’t do it without your help. Please visit their website to donate or get involved through volunteering, sponsoring, or bringing programs to your local schools. Help these women and girls out there succeed and gain the financial literacy they deserve.
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