When Angeline O’Neil, 88, retired from her job as a teacher’s aide after more than three decades of service at her local elementary school in Brooklyn, N.Y., her children knew the perfect way to cement her legacy: a scholarship. “My siblings and I all contribute money, select a recipient annually and present the winner with the award during the graduation ceremony,” says O’Neil’s daughter Elizabeth Gonney, who plans to keep the program going after her mom passes. “It’s a great way to ensure my mother continues touching the lives of young people.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average African-American household earns $53,046 annually, with approximately 15 percent surpassing the six-figure mark. So, you don’t have to be a millionaire to create a legacy; you simply have to think like one. “Part of the reason we have a wealth gap is because many more of us are focused on existing. Where will you work? How will you pay for school? We can’t really focus on building because we’re worried about the day-to-day,” explains Ash Cash, a New York City-based personal finance expert and author of Mind Right, Money Right: 10 Laws of Financial Freedom ($9.99; 1Brick Publishing). “But that makes it even more important to leave a legacy, particularly financial, in the African-American community.”
TIME FOR ACTION
Sometimes touching your community simply requires starting a movement. “If a person has made a significant impact, lobby your local officials or board of education to rename a street or school in his or her honor,” Cash suggests. “It creates a sense of pride and is a way for that individual’s story and contributions to be remembered.”
Read more in the October 2014 issue of EBONY Magazine.