Former Pro Athletes Partner to Teach Financial Literacy at HBCUs

Former pro athlete Adele Ogunleye. Image: Getty Images

A group of former pro athletes have partnered to teach financial education classes at HBCUs, USA Today reports.

Adewale Ogunleye, who played 11 seasons in the NFL, is passionate about teaching the lessons he’s learned about properly managing money. After realizing that the average NFL career is less than four years, he was hit with a harsh reality when a teammate, who was a high draft pick, asked him for a loan.

“I’m looking at this guy thinking, ‘I’m undrafted.’ I only had a rookie minimum salary and you’re asking me for a loan? And I was actually in a position where I could give them a loan. And so that’s where I realized there’s a problem,” Ogunleye said.

Walter Stith, a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley’s Global Sports and Entertainment division, and former NFL and CFL player, argues that financial literacy is crucial in building and maintaining Black wealth.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s a temptation when it comes to wealth disappearing. I would say it’s more about obligation,” Stith said. “Most of these athletes feel that they are obligated to help friends and family and it creates an issue. Financial literacy as a whole needs to be put as a priority in our educational system, especially in dealing with Black wealth and Black entrepreneurship.”

To address the problem head-on, Ogunleye teamed up with UBS and its athletes and entertainers divisions, which helps their colleagues and underserved communities access financial education.

The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, with a host of NCAA Division II colleges and universities, plans to educate enrolled students of the association which has 14 schools along with UBS.

UBS and SIAC have announced a virtual series, “ELEVATE! Creating and Preserving Black Wealth,” which provides Black people with job opportunities in the financial sector while introducing tools to help them manage money more adequately.

Former NBA player Allan Houston and SIAC Commissioner Greg Moore are part of the dialogues and have scheduled three more sessions set for the spring semester. Students who attend the classes will learn how to incorporate smart financial habits into their lifestyle, to build and protect their credit score, and how to understand taxes in preparation for life after college, homeownership, and investing in 401(k) plans.

Moore says that the financial programs are desperately needed because several HBCUs are located in underserved communities.

“I personally believe that income inequality is an existential threat,” Moore said. “Some of our HBCUs are located in some of the most economically underserved, disconnected communities in the country.”

According to the statistics, poverty rates are well above the national average, which is 11.4%. Tuskegee, Alabama (Tuskegee University) has a poverty rate of 28%; Albany, Georgia (Albany State University) is at 31%, while Fort Valley, Georgia (Fort Valley State University) is among the worst, where 42% of the population lives in poverty.

Houston echoed the sentiments of Ogunleye and Moore about the importance of teaching financial literacy as early as possible.

“When you can share these stories and let the students know and can give them the right information, access and opportunity, they can really create a lot more than we can imagine,” Houston said. “It’s just they have to have the tools and the vision and the execution strategy.”

Houston, who leads FISLL(Faith, Integrity, Sacrifice, Leadership, & Legacy), says just because someone has a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean they are financially literate.

“You don’t just budget your money, you budget your lifestyle,” he said. “Fundamental financial literacy is just understanding and watching what you have versus what you actually need, in which you can save and start building a lifestyle habit.”

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