This post was originally published on Seattle Medium

By Aaron Allen

Devin Stubblefield, a financial literacy specialist; Andre Arnold, a IT network specialist; and Lee Garrett, a business consultant have all been highly successful in their careers and now they are looking to educate and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, wealth builders and technology leaders through their Elevate Scholars program.

Elevate Scholars is a nonprofit organization made up of three organizations that specialize in IT Networking, Financial Literacy and Business Management, or as they describe themselves “a liberated village” that educates the community’s youth in empowering themselves through the ideas of entrepreneurship, financial literacy and wealth building and technology career pathways. The ultimate goal of the collaborative is to empower youth with the information and resources they need to have for a prosperous future.

Participants in the program are exposed to and learn about a number of things that can prepare them for their next phase in life, including the benefits of owning a business, financial management, the benefits of working in IT, and how to take advantage of networking opportunities.

“When you think about the economic hardships our kids face when they get out of school, the need to have something that is going to prepare them,” says Arnold, a co-founder of Elevate Scholars and an IT Network specialist. “When it comes to technology, if there is anyway, I will coordinate and set things up so that kids can have an opportunity to get the learning they need so they can be successful.”

Stubblefield, who is also a co-founder of Elevate Scholars, agrees and says that the collaboration between Arnold, Garrett and himself is an attempt to provide youth with the resources, skills and knowledge that they wish someone would have shared with them when they were young.

“Coming up in high school for myself there wasn’t much in the form of financial classes,” say Stubblefield. “I mean, obviously, in high school we had home economics, but that was not financial literacy. Right now, as financial empowerment educator, I feel like the earlier that we can get this type of information taught to individuals before they have the opportunity to develop habits is huge.”

The reason we are so passionate about what we are doing is because we know that the younger you can impact a child’s life the more likely that child can be successful.

lee Garrett, Elevate Scholars

“[My passion for this collaboration] is rooted in getting as many Black and Brown scholars to understand the basics of financial management, the basics of how to save, how to think about their spending,” added Stubblefield. “Those kinds of things that can go a long way in to helping them establish long-term financial stability.”

“The reason we are so passionate about what we are doing is because we know that the younger you can impact a child’s life the more likely that child can be successful,” says Garrett, Managing Director of Seatown Consulting, a business consulting firm based in Seattle. “So, we talk in the confines of being a scholar, we are addressing scholars that are primarily high schoolers and our goal is to provide them with skills that will be very beneficial to them and ultimately it gives them a competitive advantage as they get older.”

One of the key pillars of the program is to nurture and instill an entrepreneurial mindset in the participants. In order to cultivate the growth of this mindset, Elevate Scholars will provide a learning environment and experiences to nurture that growth. To that end, they will train scholars on how to start their own business, including tech and traditional business. Scholars will develop the skills to generate, validate, and launch their business.

In addition, they will teach scholars how to accumulate wealth and to manage their finances for future success.

According to Stubblefield, two thirds of American adults cannot pass a basic financial literacy test; nearly half can’t cover a minor emergency, and a third have no money saved for retirement. This means that much of the U.S. population may be at serious economic risk now or later in their lives. This program provides an opportunity for youth to learn about financial stability and broaden their minds as it relates to career tracks that are prosperous and connects with their interests and strengths.

“Being involved in this type of an effort to me is a tremendous opportunity,” says Stubblefield. “I am grateful that this is here now, although I wish this could have started 10 years, 20 years ago. But it’s here now and I am going to do what I can to make sure that this program is successful.”

Garrett agrees and believes that this collaboration of likeminded people, pulling together their expertise and resources, will be a valuable asset and conduit for children to tap into and grow.

“We felt like the three of us together could provide great value,” says Garrett. “When you have people with skillsets that complement each other, we knew that together we could be a very powerful force in providing value to our scholar to help them improve their lives.”

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