Dream big and aim high: Femi Faoye and Jaleni Thompson give back to their community through their financial literacy program.

Author:Townes, Glenn
Position:Wealth For Life

STUDIES SHOW THAT MANY YOUNG PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE FINANCIALLY illiterate. A national financial literacy survey of high school students found that white students answered 52.5% of the survey questions correctly compared with 45% of correctly answered questions by Hispanic students and 41% by African American students.

That's why Femi Faoye, 28, an MBA student at Cornell University and founder of New York-based Millennial Capital Management, and Jaleni Thompson, also 28, a credit research analyst at Moody's Investors Service in New York, decided to share their knowledge with urban youth and encourage them to pass on solid money management principles to their families. The two co-founded D.R.E AM--Developing Responsible Economically Advanced Model-Citizens (http://dream-usa.org), a nonprofit that provides financial education to low-income, underrepresented urban youth.

The organization offers two main workshops: Financial Empowerment 101, through which it partners with other community-based organizations to teach the basics of money management, including balancing a checkbook and understanding the variety of savings vehicles (savings accounts, certificates of deposit, brokerage accounts, and mutual funds); and its main program, Invest in Success, a three-year intensive that teaches comprehensive finance and guides students in the use of the stock market. Each student in the program is paired with a Success Mentor who is generally a young urban industry professional. Representatives from financial services industry leaders such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Capital One volunteer their time by instructing classes and mentoring students.

Since 2009, D.R.E.A.M. has served more than 4,000 students and families throughout the greater New York area, primarily through its Financial Empowerment 101 course, which serves about 1,000 students every year. Students who have participated in Invest in Success have successfully opened and managed checking, savings, and brokerage accounts. Co-founder Faoye says, "One hundred percent of our Invest in Success graduates own at least one share of a publicly traded company." He says Invest in Success is perhaps the organization's most vital program. Its Success Mentors share personal experiences with students and help with the college application and financial aid application process. Faoye and Thompson measure the success of the program by the students' active adoption and participation in the financial...

To continue reading