Chloe Mckenzie is on a mission to change wealth in America—and it starts by changing how people think about “wealth.” For many people, being wealthy is synonymous with being rich. However, Mckenzie, a former investment banker, sees it differently: Wealth, to her, is a collection of assets over time that can be built up and passed down through generations. It is something that Black women have been excluded from through decades of discrimination in employment, housing, and education. It is something she wants to help young Black girls build through her wealth justice non-profit, BlackFem.
BlackFem was created in response to the fact that Black Americans make up 15% of the population but only possess 2.6% of the nation’s wealth. In fact, on average, white Americans have 6.7 times the wealth that Black Americans have. BlackFem seeks to change this by bringing integrated, culturally-responsive financial and wealth literacy curriculums to schools with high concentrations of girls of color. Its mission is to lift up underserved communities with skills, habits, and resources that will help them build and sustain wealth by teaching kids about investing, compound interest, and financial activism. “A lot of people think money and finance are this unemotional thing,” she explains. “But that’s actually not the case. It’s actually deeply rooted in the traumas that have created this society.” In fact, the legacy of racism leaves black women with just a tiny fraction of the country’s wealth; Single Black women have a median wealth of $200, less than a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by single white men. For many students, financial literacy is a subject that is only available after-school—if it’s available at all. This often means the underprivileged students who could most benefit from the information are excluded. That’s why Mckenzie is adamant about bringing financial literacy into the classroom: BlackFem’s curriculum teaches financial literacy for 45-minutes, five days a week as a core subject. And students get more than just a financial primer: Students enrolled in BlackFem’s curriculum also benefit from increased confidence in the classroom and higher test scores.
While BlackFem explicitly aims to lift up Black girls by ensuring they have knowledge and skills to create a prosperous future, Mckenzie notes their work benefits all students: “Even though we care most about closing the wealth gap for Black women and girls, Black feminist teaching tells us if we liberate those at the bottom we’re actually liberating everybody.”
Help bring integrated, culturally-responsive financial and wealth literacy programs to schools around the US by donating to Black Fem.
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