“Financial freedom my only hope/F*** livin’ rich and dyin’ broke…” are profound words uttered by rapper Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter. These words come from his hit single, “The Story of OJ” from his platinum certified album, 4:44. Although these words may seem unusually crass for an organization that caters to the education and success of youth, they are surprisingly fitting. Jay-Z’s approach to teaching financial education is heavily aligned with the way that WesGold Fellows aims to teach it also. Both include presenting scenarios that clearly illustrate the themes that they are trying to drive home about the investing and preservation of money.
WesGold Fellows was created to foster the same knowledge in students, but in a more hands- on way. In 2007, the program was created in conjunction with the Parkwest Town Center. West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution and the Goldenburg Development Group wanted the children from the surrounding areas to know, understand, and be a part of the community development rather than the community development only happening to them. To involve students, the two groups coordinated trips, assignments, and guest speakers to show the students the procedure that goes into creating a multi-million dollar development project. This is how the WesGold Fellows got to where it is today. Contrary to what may be portrayed, this piece is not about the importance of Jay-Z lyrics or WesGold Fellows. This is about the importance of Financial education.
To begin, financial education is a way out for many people who believe their circumstances are inescapable. When people receive information on how to correctly navigate stocks, credit, and real estate, they are immediately given the power to take charge of their destiny and have more options in life. Additionally, financial education can enrich communities and allow them the power to choose what happens around them rather than to them. Parkwest Town Center and the activity that was spawned from its creation is an evident example of this.
Finally, financial education enables those with it to enhance the people and places around them. Many of the world’s greatest humanitarians are people who have received sound methods on how to manage and save money. A few prominent humanitarians include Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, and Bill Gates, just to name a few. The money that these people donate go to worthy causes such as environmental preservation, housing and aid for those affected by natural disasters, and education for income youths, respectively.