CHICAGO -- A Chicago organization is seeking to close a longstanding gap in financial literacy by educating students in a unique way: buying shares of public companies and learning about the stock market.
Called One Stock One Future, the nonprofit has the lofty goal eventually of turning a million underprivileged youth into shareholders, creating a sense of ownership and pride.
Founder Rendel Solomon created the organization to teach financial literacy to underprivileged youths through stock ownership.
"I’m trying to provide hope, inspiration, empowerment and opportunity," Solomon said.
He does that by breaking down the confusing and complicated nuances of personal finance. Financial education varies widely by state, and following the great recession, Chicago Public Schools developed a framework to help teachers implement more age-appropriate lessons. But Nyesha Ferguson, who grew up in Georgia, never got those lessons.
"First time i checked it my score was like a 410," Ferguson said. "I'm like, 'I don't have anything,' so I looked down and I started researching and stuff just started popping up on addresses I’ve never lived on, cities I’ve never been too."
Fraud against family members, especially children, is one of the most difficult forms of identity theft to resolve. The identity fraud protection company ID Analytics estimates that 500,000 children have had their identities stolen by a parent.
"I'm not sure how to dispute it, but that's my mom; I’m not going to press charges," Ferguson said "She was doing it to take care of us because she had bad credit because her parents did it to her."
A recent report from the FDIC showed more than 20 percent of African American households do not have a bank account, compared to just under 8 percent of all U.S. households. Solomon says and the stigma that comes with talking about money leads to poor money management.
"There is a fear associated with it that is passed down for generations about managing money," Solomon said.
A native of the city's West Side, Solomon experienced financial problems himself. While living and working in New York he found himself swimming in debt. With the help of a mentor, Solomon moved home to Chicago and worked on straightening up his finances. He passed down the lessons he learned to his niece, Kadence.
"My inspiration really was my niece who is 8 years old, to buy shares of stock for her 8th birthday. And I bought her shares of Nike, Apple and Disney," Solomon said.
The gift sparked a lofty goal: to turn one million underprivileged youth into public company shareholders.
"The idea of giving a share of stock to a kid can open their mind and expand their way of thinking," Solomon said.
With donated funds, One Stock One Future buys $20 worth of shares for each student in a public company that piques their interest.
"I didn’t know I could own something, I didn't know I could have a piece of something. I didn’t know I could do anything like that," Ferguson said. "I want these kids to walk away and say you know what? I have a right to do this. I deserve to be an owner. I want the perception of how they look at themselves to start to rise."
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