Tuesday, May 21, 2019

True Wealth in the scattering…not the gathering

Source AARP
 By Stephanie A. Walker and Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

AMWS May, 20. 2019, Atlanta -  Remnant offspring of the "talented tenth" are reeling in disbelief. A surprise announcement at Morehouse College by commencement speaker Robert F. Smith has put substance to faith that, on planet earth, business as usual is becoming a practice of the past.

"Potential is no guarantee of progress. We will only grasp the staggering potential of our time if we create on ramps that empower ALL people to participate, regardless of background, country of origin, religious practice, gender, or color of skin," said Smith.
Mellody Hobson is president of Ariel Investments, an a trusted financial advisor for YouthUSA Money-n-the-Bank assets.  “…as long as I have the resources at my disposal, I will seek to raise the bar for future generations of students of all ages. I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education,”  pledged Hobson and filmmaker husband, George Lucas.

Smith and Hobson have joined other billionaires in dedicating the majority of their wealth to giving back. “We have been blessed with good fortune beyond our wildest expectations, and we are profoundly grateful.  But just as these gifts are great, so we feel a great responsibility to use them well.  That is why we are so pleased to join in making an explicit commitment to the Giving Pledge,” said Bill and Melinda Gates.
Men of the Morehouse College graduating class of 2019 are among the beneficiaries from an economic inclusion strategy.  In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s last book, Where Do We Go From Here: CHAOS or COMMUNITY?, he quotes economist Hyman Bookbinder.  

 “The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower rate... [But] unless a substantial sacrifice is made by the American people, the nation can expect further deterioration of the cities, increased antagonisms between the races, and continued disorders in the streets.” Bookbinder served as assistant director of the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1966.

Imagine any of 100 economic beneficiaries blessing your graduating class with a gift of debt forgiveness.  For more than four centuries, someone has paid something forward to engage winners.  Most winners at THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS started with a grant valued at $1.00.  Some saved the dollar, others spent it.  But, a two percent minority invested in their own futures, adding value to vision for their American futures.

Source AARP
Smith’s offer to settle student loan debt incurred by the Morehouse Class of 2019 transitionally calculates to about $40 million. That’s almost half the value of a trust proposed in the transformation of BB&T and SunTrust Banks into a 21st Century model for Economic Inclusion.

When the Morehouse graduation story broke, weekend news reporting focused on the dollar value of the gift and the “giver’s” capacity to make the gift real.  Then reporters joined inquiring minds to connect some dots along an historically disadvantaged American timeline.   

Prospective trustees will need to distinguish fact from fiction to see the gift as community reinvestment.   According to 2018 tax returns, The United Negro College Fund “gathered” $89,277,990, made $130, 270, 154 in grants, and paid $20,108,973 in salaries.

Before his first birthday, Robert Frederick Smith was endowed with an inclusive vision of America’s future. The giver, was just an infant when his mom, Dr. Sylvia Myrna Smith, carried him to Washington, D.C.  On August 28, 1963, the Smiths joined an estimated 250,000 demonstrators at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  They came by planes, trains, cars, and buses from all over the country.   They left with one of nine inherited values of the Mary McLeod Bethune legacy, a community reinvestment by “the talented tenth.”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s keynote speech drew on just enough history to motivate a reluctant U.S. Congress to act.   But not before King’s transactional declaration, “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check,” diverted to a kinder, gentler transformation to economic security for all.  

At perhaps a defining crossroad between transactional and transformational leadership, noted African American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to Dr. King from the crowd, “Tell them about the dream, Martin,” King departed from his prepared remarks and started "preaching" extemporaneously, “I have a dream."

W.E.B. Du Bois used the term "the talented tenth" to describe the likelihood of one in ten black men becoming leaders of their race in the world, through methods such as continuing their education, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change.  

Du Bois strongly believed that blacks needed a classical education to be able to reach their full potential, rather than the industrial education promoted by the Atlanta compromise, endorsed by Booker T. Washington and some white philanthropists.

The Smith’s, and a generation of lesser known intellectuals are awakening from inherited perceptions that the struggle must continue.

Welcome to Wakanda! In this once mythical, magical, faraway place, poor children believe they can grow up less poor because billionaires chose to become richer at a slower pace.   A modest $100 million beneficiary trust would encourage them to grow as beneficiaries and learn as trustees of their own inheritance.

Decoding the Cost of College

AMWS is learning that the net price for higher education paid by students and parents includes the full financial obligation for attending a given school. But in some cases, the way net price is presented may be unclear, leaving families wondering what their actual obligations are.

While financial aid in the form of gifts and scholarships reduces net price and the need for borrowing, information given to potential students about other types of aid can be misleading. A recent review of financial aid award letters found that some schools mischaracterized how student loans were incorporated into a student’s aid package, including 24 instances in which words other than loanwere used, and a number of letters in which parent loans were considered part of a financial aid award.*  

In turn, this makes it harder to compare offers across schools when determining which school provides the best value—leading families to borrow more than they would have otherwise.  * Stephen Burd, et al., “Decoding the Cost of College: The Case for Transparent Financial Aid Award Letters,” New America, June 5, 2018


Friday, May 3, 2019

Introducing Vibranium Bank and Trust

Dr. Raphael W. Bostic
President, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
1000 Peachtree Street N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Adam Drimer
Assistant Vice President
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
701 East Byrd Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Atlanta Regional Office
10 10th Street NW
Suite 800
Atlanta, GA 30309-3849


I'm Eric Stradford, a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, and an advocate for economic security where our beneficiaries live, learn, work and or worship.

I am testifying on behalf of my client, Youth Achievers USA Institute, the YouthUSA Corporate village of beneficiaries, caring adult stakeholders, and our National Learn-2-Earn partners.

Youth Achievers USA Institute is a concerned business banking partner of SunTrust and a former client at BB&T.  We opened accounts at SunTrust, trusting that our Money-n-the-Bank could grow in FDIC Insured savings accounts.

Federal oversight on a bank’s community reinvestment record is important to YouthUSA and to our 934 fellow FDIC Money Smart Alliance members.  The process should engage We The People in ensuring a pathway to Economic Inclusion for our most vulnerable neighbors. 

BB&T has supported FDIC Money Smart from its Winston-Salem base and has committed in its testimony to building on its role as a regional advocate for economic inclusion.

On April 25th 2019 at the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank in Charlotte, NC, we heard from bankers about their vision for a merger of equals.

We also heard from concerned citizens on why our government should or should not regulate this vision into the sixth largest community asset management steward in our nation. We asked our bankers for an accounting on $533 million in new market tax credits allocated from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund of the U.S. Treasury.

We are encouraged by the Richmond Federal Reserve in its efforts to assess the condition of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and pray that SunTrust has voluntarily submitted to the survey.

Here in the Atlanta Federal Reserve Region, we’re looking for vibranium in the deal. Those undervalued assets make a difference between a merger of equals and an acquisition of new money by old money.

It is important for us to note that Economic inclusion is a term used by FDIC to describe a variety of public and private efforts aimed at bringing underserved consumers into the financial mainstream. 

To assess the inclusiveness of the banking system, and in partial fulfillment of its statutory responsibility, the FDIC conducts biennial surveys to estimate the proportion of American households that do not fully participate in the banking system.

The 2017FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households presented insights on the size of unbanked and underbanked markets.  We were not surprised to learn that a lack of trust among low to moderate income Americans was key factor in the 2017 survey.

In the 2019 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, we pray the FDIC economically includes an unprecedented demonstration of patriotic duty by two regional communities, represented by two fiscally responsible, socially accountable financial institutions seeking to build that trust codified in Public Law 84-140.

We pray that FDIC and the FRB revisits its own commitment to Economic Inclusion and ensures that regulatory policies achieve Economic Security.  Economic Security does not happen without Economic Inclusion.  Economic Inclusion begins with financial literacy.  Financial literacy requires trust. 

We’ve got big problems that relate to healing, feeding, housing, learning, earning, living and giving that require the full faith and credit of the people of the United States. 

We ask your prayers and advocacy on behalf of American children growing up in low income families. America’s future can grow up less poor if their right to Economic Security is enforced as the law of the land.