AAB Youth Financial Literacy Group – “Out Of the Mouths of ‘Babes’”

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Here’s a guy who punctuates the term, "Put up or shut up,"

Back in September of 2004, finance titan, Ryan Mack walked away from a cushy situation on Wall Street to start his own company, Optimum Capital Management, a thriving personal finance development consulting firm in New York City .  In 2005 the community-at-large started to feel the clench of the submerging economy.  Unemployment and prices began to rise and people began to lose confidence. Critics and complainers surfaced in droves, pointing fingers and placing blame.  Ryan was troubled that financial literacy was not being taught in the public schools system. But rather than blaming and complaining, Ryan opted to go out and volunteer his time a day a week to teach financial literacy to high school students.  Hence, All About Business Youth Program (AAB) was formed.

For the past three years, AAB has been a self-funded program sustained by Mack along with his partners, Lloyd Cambridge, CFO of Optimum Capital Management, LLC and Damon Jenkins, CEO of TSD Construction.  So, for the most part, Mack, Cambridge, Jenkins and a young man named Marquise Terry went out and taught financial literacy to whomever would listen.  

Without funding, yet still growing, the four decided that  the best way to keep the vital program going was to recruit others to go out and teach the AAB curriculum which includes their 7 Principles of Financial freedom. They decided on creating a multi-layer design that would enable a lay person to teach.  And so the outreach process begins.  Ryan is inviting youth, adulds, friends, neighbors, CBOs, government officials, community advocates and activists, everyone who is willing to get involved to come out and not just learn about financial literacy, but to learn how to teach it.

Mack, a frequent CNN commentator and contributor stated during a recent volunteer recruitment orientation, "You don't have to be a financial planner to do this. What we want is to give students the ability to articulate."

Ryan will provide volunteers with three to four FREE classes on how to teach the 7 Principles of Financial Freedom.  Other Elements of the AAB curriculum include adequate insurance coverage, up-to-date estate planning documents, how to establish a working budget, how to improve your FICA score, how to give properly, how to avoid high risk credit card debt, how to properly allocate your company retirement plan, how to manage your 3 – 6  month living expenses and where you need to stash money to keep pace or be above inflation – an emergency fund, the value of tax deferred savings plans, minimizing your taxes and increasing your wealth, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, how to purchase a home, stocks, bonds, business, real estate and more.

Ryan admits it sounds hard, "But we want to make it hard," Ryan admits.  "We want to make it hard to challenge our kids and make them excited about it and make them know that they are going to have to take ownership of this information."

Knowing Ryan’s expertise in finance often leads people to inquire of him how he suggests we get ourselves out of this economic crisis.  Ryan response with, "The answer doesn’t come solely from some stimulus package; it doesn’t come from legislation being passed.  It comes from inside of us.  We need to take the initiative to learn the information – speak the language.  We have to learn how to talk the talk and understand what we say. The best way to learn it is to teach it ourselves.  The objective of this program is to give the students ownership of this information."

And that is exactly what AAB students do. These kids teach, they organize economic empowerment walks, they do business development programs, right now, they're  working on developing marketing programs so AAB students can help drive traffic to local community businesses.  

Every seat was filled in the classroom at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn during Saturday's AAB Volunteer Orientation in front of the full house, three of Ryan's students took center stage to make their plea to the community an state their case why volunteering for the AAB program is so crucial.  Here is what they had to say:

Marquise Terry – 3rd year member of AAB and Senior Instructor, now a student of Monroe College, met Ryan when, when he was a "hungry 17-year-old kid in high school."  While hanging out after school Terry heard Mack inviting students to his program to learn how to “Get Money.” But the rewards of young Marquise’s choice to take the initiative and go meet with Mr. Mack proved to be a whole lot more than just some fly-by-night money making exercise.  Marquise learned what to do when you get money, how to balance your money from a financial standpoint; how to make your money work for you instead of working for your money, and how to teach it to his friends.  Three years later, Marquise Terry works side-by-side with Mack, Cambridge and Jenkins, hosting seminars, even recently flying out to Miami to host a seminar for the University of Miami.  Terry emphasizes the importance of getting this information out to the youth as well as to the parents stating, "It’s not only for young people,  It's not just important for the young people to learn, it’s also important for their parents to learn, because while it’s very important for the parent to teach the child, there are times when it might actually take the child to teach the parent.  Marquise's main topics of expertise are asset allocation and diversification in your 401K program.

Claressa Garcia -- AAB’s Director of Communications, currently a student of Hofstra University, recalls growing up in a single parent household and shared with the large group of enthusiastic volunteers, her recollection of times when her mom was unable to simultaneously provide groceries, pay bills and buy their school clothes.  Claressa discussed her childhood growing up with a loving mother who, being on a modest salary, struggled to manage and distribute the money in order to provide for Claressa and her younger siblings. Garcia was introduced to financial literacy through Ryan and being on both sides of the spectrum [financially illiterate/financially aware], she was able to see the positive effects of being financially literate and the negative effects of being ignorant to the facts about finance.  Garcia emphasized the fact that being financially illiterate can have long-term negative effects. Having the principles she learned through AAB significantly enhanced Claressa’s mental, emotional and social development by helping here discern the best ways to navigate her finances.  Claressa believes that AAB  can be the catalyst by which poverty can be  eliminated through its financial literacy curriculum.

Kareem Sealy -- AAB Member since 2006 and Instructor, currently a Senior at Benjamin Banniker Academy of Community Development.  Kareem joined AAB out of curiosity, seeking the true meaning of financial literacy.  Before joining AAB, Kareem had always perceived money matters as a system of mathematical intricacies of which he would not understand. Participating in AAB, Sealy soon learned that his former perceptions were not so.  AAB has provided Kareem the opportunity to travel all over New York City and State to teach at seminars, LIU and a program called SIMBA (Safe In My Brother’s Arms).  Kareem wants to use AAB to not only learn finance for his own benefit, but he also wants to teach everybody around him. Kareem Sealy plans to have a career in alternative medicine and subsequently, open his own clinic. He is confident that through the AAB program, he will get the education he needs to help himself and help others.

Supporters point out the possibility that, had more Americans been aware of Ryan Mack and the tremendous benefits of his AAB program, we would not be in the economic malaise that we are now experiencing.

Ryan Mack is making it known that he is All About Business and ready to put his money where your mouth is.

Click here to Meet the kids of All About Business -- hear their testimonies.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering to teach the AAB financial literacy program may call 718-623-3423  or email .  You don’t need to be a financial planner to teach these principles.

To learn more about AAB and opportunities, visit www.livinginthevillage.org 

To learn more about Optimum Capital Management, LLC, visit  www.optimumcapitalmanagement.com  .

Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor of The Black Star News and Harlem
Business News.  If you have a solution, email brenda@blackstarnews.com
.  Maybe we'll talk.

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