As the twig is bent, so goes the tree.
This centuries-old proverb is constantly being been reworked and amended; by place, time, and circumstance. Frederick Douglass put it another way, saying “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken ones.” The message is clear; whether applied to ethics, engineering, philosophy, or economics. A strong foundation, built during childhood, will allow the individual to flourish, and to provide benefits to humanity at large.
One of the latest and most important adaptations of this proverb is through the KIDS WHO BANK program. KWB teaches young people about the significance of, and the ease with which nearly everyone can become financially literate, involved, and resilient. Money management, investing, checkbook balancing, depreciation of assets, entrepreneurship, saving, credit – these are the skills that lead to lifelong financial security. Lose a fortune, make another fortune. No problem. The KWB folks have created a curriculum and a training regimen that can communicate these skills in a way understandable to the toddler, the teenager, or the parent.
Our public schools are bereft of skills development programs that teach personal finance. So, the KWB effort is welcomed and desperately needed.
This Sunday’s second annual KIDPRENEUR AWARDS GALA (2PM at the School of Visual Arts theater near the Highline) will showcase a wealth of future leaders – young people who have developed their own business plans and went from inspiration to implementation.
This innovative program is the brainchild of Ms. Jatali Bellanton, a veteran leader in the worlds of forensic accounting and corporate banking. The dynamic “Black Brit” leader gave up the world of finance when her first child was born. Unable to find kid-friendly books on money and business, she wrote “Kidpreneurs: Wants vs Needs.” This set her firmly on the path to KWB.
Last spring’s inaugural awards gala featured an eleven-year-old designer, whose TuTu fashion line is being sold in boutiques ($100,000 annual revenue.) And a six-year-old producer of science-themed cartoons, ready to fill the product needs of the Oprah or Tyler Perry conglomerates.
Gala 2 honorees will include Kidpreneurs “Jr. Flip Kids,” real estate investors who are ready to jump into the Shark Tank. Our young people buying land? Marcus Garvey would be pleased. Also honored will be the visionaries running “Brown Boys Lemonade.”
There will be adult honorees, including author/businessperson J. Alexander Martin, one of the FUBU creators. But the focus should be and will be on the future – and the young people who will take us there.
These kids have combined hard work, creativity and support from the KWB team. They have identified needs in the community and begun to provide the services and products that will address those needs. Their next stops? An initial public offering (IPO.)
As a community, we are wrestling with the poor conditions in our public schools – a big part of which is the absence of applied math, science, and business achievement curricula. While we are fighting these political/educational battles, we must at the same time identify “out of the box” solutions that will allow our children to advance. The KWB model needs support, replication, and expansion because it seems to be a way forward. Volunteer, donate, nominate a young person for the KWB experience. Come out this weekend, watch the young lions on the red carpet, and get a sneak preview of the future. It looks like spring.