Teaching Youth Financial Literacy Kicks off Wall Street Project

Wall Street Project Summit Kicks Off with Teaching Youth Financial Literacy

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The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 26 when he began organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott. But his interest in black empowerment began as a child. Passing King’s dream of economic equality down to the youth, the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 18th Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit (founded on MLK’s Birthday in 1996); kicks off day one of this week’s conference with its annual Youth Summit. “Rev. Jackson feels young people are our future,” says Stephanie Bostic, founder and president of Charly Productions, the event management company behind organizing The Wall Street Project. “We need to prepare them to compete globally.”

The Youth Summit began 17 years ago as just a two hour event where groups of young people attended to take part in a stock market program that taught the basics of Wall Street trading. The success of these two hours soon expanded into a full day event, packed with corporate brands eager to be a part of teaching children about their business world. “We’ve had Macy’s, who for many years participated as a presenter in the summit. Young executives would come in and speak on the business of retail sales, marketing, buyers, all-areas. And the kids love it,” says Bostic.  “Then we’ve had CBS come in and talk about the business of television in front of the camera, but more importantly, behind the scenes. Wells Fargo has been teaching financial literacy. Last year, McDonald’s did a showcase of stars. Individuals that spoke started at McDonald’s behind the counter and have now achieved success. One was Kwame Jackson, who was on The Apprentice. He came and spoke, and the kids loved it.”

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This year, McDonald’s takes a different approach by kicking off the summit through engaging youth in a conversation about bettering their community, headed up by its director of Global inclusion and community engagement, H. Walker.  In session 2, Wells Fargo brings in a team of their experts to teach financial literacy and banking. This is all followed by Google focusing on careers in the changing world of technology. While Macy’s rounds things out with a workshop on careers in the retail field.  Nearly 100 students, gathered from participating high schools in the Tri State area, are expected to attend the all-day summit. “At some point during the day, Rev. Jackson always stops in to greet the students,” says Bostic, who’s worked on The Wall Street Project for the duration of its 18 years. “Look at the world stage now. We’ve got to prepare our students to compete. So I think it’s extremely critical that they learn everything, as much as they can, so they have the skills to exceed.”

The 18th Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit runs Tuesday, January 13 — Thursday, January 15 at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel.