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Challenges & Solutions to Closing the Wealth Gap in the U.S.

Name: Jordan George Mccord
From: Sandy Springs, GA
Grade: Senior
School: Riverwood International Charter School
Votes: 0

Four years ago I attended Wealthy Habits, a non for profit program for
kids and teens that help teach them how to manage money wisely. The
things I learned during the course were invaluable, and made me want
to participate in the program in a leadership role. I wanted to
impact other kid’s lives by teaching them about financial literacy.
I’ve seen how the lack of financial education can lead to poor
spending habits, large amounts of consumer debt, bankruptcy and even
poverty.


I believe the wealth gap is the most pressing issue in the United
States today. It affects the ability for people to provide for
themselves and their families. According to CNBC.com, the top 1% owns
half of the world’s wealth. In the United States, the top 10% of
families hold over 75% of the nation’s wealth and, in contrast, most
Americans have almost no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. The
wealthy have access to capital, often from inheritance, and financial
education that gives them a huge competitive advantage. One way to
start to close the wealth gap is through financial literacy.

After I expressed interest in pursuing a leadership role at Wealthy Habits,
the Executive Director, Tracy 
Tanner
revealed to me that they were considering starting a student
instructor program. That summer, I worked almost every week, and
assisted in running the daily activities and lessons. I would teach
the kids how to: plan and invest, pay taxes, write checks, etc. I was
able to see the kids transform from being shy and naive, to erudite
and confident. I felt what I was doing was really making a
difference. While helping teach the high school class about how to
fill out a budget. One girl asked me what a budget was and I was
shocked. I couldn’t believe that she had gotten to high school
without learning about budgets. But then I realized that my school
didn’t cover this material either. We learn about economics but
not how manage our personal finances. Without programs like Wealthy
Habits, people would have almost no access education on how to be
financially successful.

Understanding this, I tried to help every kid that came through the program gain as
much information as possible. I felt it was important to teach them
so well, that they could spread the knowledge to others. In addition
to being a teacher, I prided myself on being a role model for other
kids. They looked up to me because I was much closer to their age
than the traditional instructor. I used my influence, to help get key
points across. I remember, one day, a boy named Micah seemed
uninterested in the subject we were covering, the importance of
having a savings account. I noticed this and went to talk with him. I
told him about how I had begun saving my money earlier in the year,
and had already accumulated almost $1000. I then let him know that
since he was about four years younger than me, if he started saving
now he could have way more than that. His face lit up and from then
on he began asking tons of questions and was really eager to learn.

Another way to help to close the wealth gap is entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship, done strategically, can set up families and
communities up for generational success. However, it is more
difficult for many minority groups and poorer Americans to create
multi-generational wealth. They often start business that create
fewer jobs and generate less income. These businesses often do not
survive the owner’s death. We must find ways to provide better
financial education and greater access to capital if we want to
reverse this trend.

In the fall I will attend Babson College because it is ranked #1 for
Entrepreneurship and has the best reputation for providing the
education and training I need to start a business that can scale and
have a great impact on all communities.  My vision is to create
a business that employs lots of people in high paying jobs, that
has a positive long term impact on society.

Through my time at Wealthy Habits, I’ve learned the impact teaching others
can have, especially on younger generations. I’ve seen kids learn so
much that they want to pass on the information. My intention is to
either start a club on campus that promotes financial literacy or
join an existing club, like the Babson Leadership Club, and integrate
my knowledge of financial literacy into the program.