The “Less Talk…More Action” Economic Empowerment Tour (“LTMA”), sponsored by the George Soros Open Society Institute, focuses on using financial literacy as a primary tool of empowerment for the Black community. However, LTMA has expanded the traditional definition of financial literacy to also include unemployment, incarceration, and education in the Black community. Credit repair, planning for retirement, budgeting, and other crucial/traditional measures of financial literacy all need to have a stronger presence if African Americans are to advance economically. However, high incarceration rates, low educational performance, and high unemployment rates are also severe problems of the Black community which continue to plague our bottom line.
As this tour travels through as many as 13 cities touching urban communities, it will achieve the following goals:
· Through the “train the trainer” financial literacy program establish a core group of professionals in each city (at least 10) who will volunteer their time to train others about the importance of financial literacy using the LTMA curriculum “Living in the Village”
· Through The Money Movement initiative attain at least 100 individuals who sign and take the pledge to become fiscally responsible in each city.
· Organize at least 10 workshops conducted by community organizations in each city to teach fiscal responsibility (churches, shelters, prisons, schools, substance abuse programs, public housing community centers, etc.)
· Contribute to a book “Never Going Back” filled with testimonies of goals and dreams of the incarcerated upon release, activists who work with those in prison, and inspirational stories of those who were able to get out of prison and make a difference. The purpose of this project will be to increase awareness of high incarceration rates and provide those at risk of incarceration with tangible means of empowerment to avoid that tragic fate.
· Contribute to a book “Dollars and Sense” filled with testimonies of educators across the country that have all achieved academic success despite harsh environments of the inner city neighborhoods. The purpose of this book will be to provide a tangible demonstration of best practices for other educators to follow as a model as well as inspire others to infuse financial literacy into their curriculum.
Confirmed Cities: New York City, NY (October 27th) – Detroit, MI (November 10th) – New Orleans, LA (January TBD) – Jackson, MS (February TBD) – Baltimore, MD (March TBD) – Philadelphia, PA (April TBD) – Chicago, IL (May TBD) – Milwaukee, WI (May TBD)
Possible Additional Cities: Atlanta, GA (November TBD) – Washington D.C. (TBD) – Houston, TX (TBD) – Los Angeles, CA (TBD) – Newark, NJ (TBD)
Note: All cities will have at least 3-7 days of empowerment workshops conducted within the local community for organizations such as homeless shelters, public housing facilities, prisons, and organizations that service community residents of need.
Ambassadors of Action
The “Less Talk…More Action” Economic Empowerment program understands the need to recruit individuals who have a proven ability to empower others to support this movement. We have designated four “Ambassadors of Action” who have committed to rolling up their sleeves to do the work necessary to accomplish the objectives listed above.
Primary Role: Create/direct initiatives, galvanize support, coordinate tour, and instruct workshops.
BIO: President of The Optimum Institute of Economic Empowerment, Inc. Ryan Mack has a life mission to build and develop a durable financial empire geared towards educating his community and beyond. Ryan Mack graduated from the University of Michigan Business School (ranked number one in the country) with a concentration in Finance. His career in equity markets began in Detroit, Michigan as a stock trader and later as a trader for the largest NASDAQ trading firm in the nation, Knight Securities. Having a passion for teaching he established his own financial awareness group in 2003 where he began to publish regular newsletters about various financial related issues that were of interest to people from all income levels. In addition to being a financial advisor working with many prominent clients across the U.S., he charitably lends his support to inner-city communities by coordinating workshops and creating economic empowerment initiatives that teach the principles of understanding the power of financial literacy. Unions, churches, government-subsidized housing communities, municipal programs, nonprofits, inner-city organizations, international communities and especially colleges and universities have benefited from the financial workshops/programs that he has developed and instructed through Optimum Capital Management.
As a renowned public speaker he has provided keynote presentations to organizations across the country such as Harvard University, Columbia University, Princeton University, NAACP, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Housing Preservation and Development, National Urban League, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Black MBA Association and many others, Microsoft Corporation, HSBC, KPMG, Johnson and Johnson, Six Flags, and Deutsche Bank. With a strong sense of philanthropy he flew to South Africa to teach economic empowerment principles to those in need and has partnered with the local District Attorney’s office to teach financial literacy to previously incarcerated community residents with the aim of lowering recidivism rates. He can be regularly viewed on television networks such as GMTV, CNBC, CNN, Thomson Reuters, and BET discussing economic/social issues that impact American citizens. Ryan has also authored his book “Living in the Village”; has been profiled in Tavis Smiley’s Covenant and Action (a New York Times Bestseller); co-authored a book with Kevin Powell entitled “The Black Male Handbook”; featured in Black Enterprise, African American Family, The Source & NV Magazine; contributes regularly to Huffingtonpost.com, The Network Journal, Fortune, and Black Enterprise; received the Top 40 Ander 40 Achievement Award from The Network Journal; was inducted by Medgar Evers College (where he currently serves as a Chairman of the board) into its national honor society PI ETA KAPPA as a honorary member; and received Tom Joyner’s "Hardest Working Financial Advisor Award" because of his efforts to empower the community with the crucial life skills of financial literacy. Whether he is counseling a group of doctors at a convention or in Rikers Island providing a free course Ryan Mack’s comprehensive, exciting approach to teaching economic empowerment to all income levels has generated a level of much needed interest in a volatile economy.
Primary Role: Provide tangible solutions for low financial literacy rates in the African American community. Assist in creating a trend of being fiscally responsible amongst young professionals by partnering with individuals and companies that influence popular culture.
BIO: Manyell Akinfe’s career in financial services began while in search of a way to pay off her student loan and achieve homeownership, she was approached by a financial services representative. After meeting with the representative, she realized how little she knew about personal finance. Determined to improve her financial IQ and convicted to empower others to do the same, she left her career in luxury merchandising to pursue a career as a Financial Advisor. Staying true to her belief that an individual has a responsibility to uplift themselves, their family and then their community, she has been a financial presenter for the New York Urban League, NAACP, NYU Silver School of Social Work, WBLS Circle of Sisters and has facilitated a host of seminars for churches, community centers and non-profits. She is a regular radio show guest, including appearances on New York’s Hot 97 as well as several Blog Talk shows.
She is a Reuters, CNBC and Black Enterprise Business Report contributor, a regular volunteer for the Emmanuel Community Economic Development Corporation, and serves as a Volunteer Coordinator for the World of Money.org. In addition to her public service, she has helped several clients reach their goals by providing sound investment advice, sharing creative budgeting strategies and offering realistic solutions to debt elimination.
She is currently Senior Vice President of Business Development for Optimum Capital Management, Co-Chair of the Optimum Institute of Economic Empowerment and the key orchestrator and founder of The Money Movement, a social campaign designed to use pop culture to promote financial responsibility and increase the financial literacy of urban adults between the ages of 21-38.
Despite her non-traditional beginnings, Manyell is a true financial literacy advocate.
Primary Role: Provide tangible solutions for the high unemployment rate in the African American community. Inspire and provide community with tangible tips of entrepreneurship and employment
BIO: Andrew Morrison is the founder of Small Business Camp – an entrepreneurial training and marketing services firm. In February of 2007, he trained 1,200 entrepreneurs in Nigeria, West Africa. The company delivers an intensive 2-day program that allows the participants to walk-in with just an idea and leave with a marketing plan, public relations strategy, money-making website, direct-mail campaign and 90 days of follow-up coaching.
Previously he built a multi-million dollar company by providing innovative direct marketing services to Fortune 500 companies. He was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Network Journal and Crain’s Magazine 40 Under 40 and Advertising Age. He also appeared as a “Young Millionaire” on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Andrew hosted the “Money Making Mondays” radio show heard on 98.7 KISS-FM and serves as an adjunct faculty member at New York University and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Andrew is the recipient of the prestigious Young Direct Marketer of the Year Award and serves as a Deacon at the Abyssinian Baptist Church located in the village of Harlem. His most recent book is entitled, “21 Questions That Can Build Your Business in 90 Days.”
Primary Role: Provide tangible solutions for low academic performance in the African American community. Assist in creation of book project that gives tangible means of educational reform within the Black community as well as creates inspiration to include financial literacy within all curriculum
Christopher Emdin is a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as Director of Secondary School Initiatives at the Urban Science Education Center. He holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education with a concentration in Mathematics, Science and Technology, a M.S. in Natural Sciences, and Bachelors degrees in Physical Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry. Dr. Emdin has taught middle school science and mathematics, high school physics and chemistry, and been chair of science departments in New York City public schools.
He is a noted public speaker on issues such as the Obama Effect on Urban Education, improving STEM education, and educational and socio-political issues related to urban youth of color. Dr. Emdin was co-author on the proposal to open the Marie Curie School in the Bronx, New York and has been a researcher on many National Science Foundation funded research projects in mathematics and science education.
He was recently selected as the winner of the Association for Science Teacher Education’s “Best paper for Innovation in Teaching.” He was also awarded the Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Dissertation and Emerging Leader Awards. Most recently, Dr Emdin’s work has been featured on ABC, CBS, PBS and various local media outlets. His first book, Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation was released with rave reviews on March 9th 2010.
Primary Role: Provide tangible solutions for high incarcerations rates in the African American community. Assist in the creation of book project “Never Going Back” that provides tangible tools of empowerment for those at high risk of incarceration and begin conversation of substantive change of public policy to reduce recidivism in the Black community.
BIO: Dr. Boyce D. Watkins is one of the leading financial scholars and social commentators in America. He advocates for education, economic empowerment and social justice and has changed the definition of what it means to be a Black scholar and leader in America.
He is one of the founding fathers of the field of Financial Activism – The objective of creating social change through the use of conscientious capitalism. He is a Blue Ribbon Speaker with Great Black Speakers, Inc. and one of the most highly sought after public figures in the country.
In addition to publishing a multitude of scholarly articles on finance, education and black social commentary, Dr. Watkins has presented his message to millions, making regular appearances in various national media outlets, including CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC, FOX News, BET, NPR, Essence Magazine, USA Today, The Today Show, ESPN, The Tom Joyner Morning Show and CBS Sports.
Educationally, Dr. Watkins earned BA and BS degrees with a triple major in Finance, Economics and Business Management. In college, he was selected by the Wall Street Journal as the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Finance. He then earned a Masters Degree in Mathematical Statistics from University of Kentucky and a PhD in Finance from Ohio State University and was the only African-American in the world to earn a PHD in Finance during the year 2002. He is currently a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and the founder of the Your Black World Coalition, with 55,000 members nation-wide.