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When we launched the BLACK ENTERPRISE Black Wealth Initiative with our January 2000 issue, we set a simple yet important goal: to close the “black wealth gap”–the difference in the household net worth between the average white household and the average black household. For most of the past half century, the former has been at least 10 times that of the latter. To help African Americans focus on adopting the habits that build wealth, we identified the 10 principles of our Declaration of Financial Empowerment, created the Black Enterprise Wealth Building Kit (downloadable for free at blackenterprise.com/wbk), and introduced contests designed to encourage homeownership and financial literacy. Along the way, we’ve constantly refined, expanded, and improved our coverage of personal finance and money managment topics to provide you with the tools and encouragement to set and achieve your wealth-building goals.
More than seven years later, we are happy to report that our crusade to increase the wealth-building capacity of African Americans continues to pick up momentum, as well as converts. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans have committed to the DOFE principles highlighted in each issue of BE. Our wealth-building mission has been promoted by professional associations and service organizations, colleges and universities, churches and megachurches. Organizations ranging from the NAACP to the National Association of Black MBAs have embraced financial literacy and wealth-building as part of their core programming. In February, an entire conference in Houston, Money.Power.Destiny 2007, was organized around our DOFE principles. Even other black magazines, including Essence and Ebony, have made personal finance a priority for their readers. This is exactly what we had in mind when we launched our Black Wealth Initiative: the creation of a new tradition of financial literacy in the black community. Indeed, DOFE is designed to be viral–easily understood and spread to others.
In fact, so much progress has been made that the BE wealth-building mission has evolved beyond merely closing the black wealth gap to establishing multigenerational wealth for African Americans. As a result, we have once again refined our DOFE principles, upping the ante on personal finance coverage in the magazine and across our other media outlets on the Internet, radio, and television. In this, our 2007 Investment Guide, we are introducing a new column in our Moneywise section by Ariel Capital Management L.L.C. President Mellody Hobson, one of America’s most vocal champions of financial literacy and empowerment.
The Black Wealth Initiative has evolved in yet another important way. We are no longer satisfied with merely correcting poor wealth-building habits and undoing past financial mistakes. We are now more committed than ever to reaching younger African Americans, to help them avoid the missteps–including abusing credit cards, spending indiscriminately, and waiting too long to save for retirement and buy that first home–made by their parents.
Once upon a time, we dreamed of being rich. Now we know that to be rich is fleeting and temporary without the capacity to exercise financial restraint and discipline. Then, we aspired to be wealthy–until we learned that