news mary baldwin program designed to help close wealth gaps among young people of color

Mary Baldwin program designed to help close wealth gaps among young people of color

college students of color
(© Monkey Business –

The goal for a new program at Mary Baldwin University is to improve social mobility among students from less advantaged backgrounds.

The school is partnering with the nonprofit Goalsetter Foundation and Citizens Financial Group on a new program designed to help close wealth gaps among young people of color.

Around half of MBU’s students come from families that earn less than $60,000 a year, a quarter are first-generation college goers, and more than 50 percent identify as people of color.

As part of the Goalsetter Foundation’s Share the Future campaign, the program will give 500 Mary Baldwin students one share of Citizens Financial Group stock (NYSE: CFG) each, in addition to access to Goalsetter’s award-winning platform and financial education content.

Participating MBU students can claim their share of Citizens stock by attending info sessions and downloading the Goalsetter mobile app. The app helps them set up free savings and investment accounts, establish savings goals, and monitor their stock’s performance.

Weekly learning modules, tutorials, and follow-up quizzes build literacy around financial terms, investment plans, and more.

MBU advisors and professors plan to reinforce in-app learning through personal check-ins and supplemental educational programming.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are to be able to bring this opportunity to our students, and to continue to play a role in this extremely important work,” said MBU Vice President of Student Engagement Ernest Jeffries, who spent the past year working on the partnership.

“This program aligns perfectly with our mission to equip students with the skills they need to lead lives filled with personal and professional success,” Jeffries said.

The Federal Reserve estimates the median and mean wealth of Black families in the United States to be about 15 percent of that of white families, with Latino families at about 20 percent.

The same report from the Fed projects that African Americans could have a negative net worth by as soon as 2043, and Latinos by 2063.

Jeffries points to national statistics that show such students typically suffer lifelong economic disadvantages compared to their white counterparts.

“This is the wealth gap that Mary Baldwin is committed to helping close — and this partnership gives us a very strong tool in that fight,” Jeffries said. “By the time these students graduate, they’ll be able to talk about things like stocks and bonds, asset allocation and diversification with confidence, as if these were simple everyday topics.”

Goalsetter is a goal-based savings and smart spending educational platform that provides the foundational tools of building wealth to families – the focus being on teaching students to be savers, investors and owners over consumers.

“Partnering with Mary Baldwin University and Citizens on this effort was a no-brainer for us,” said Goalsetter founder and CEO Tanya Van Court. “With the school loan crisis and increasing wealth gap that is crippling American families, particularly in communities of color, it was clear to us that it was important to bring these students into the fold now so that they can be fiscally healthier, wealthier and wiser as they move on into adulthood.”

“At Citizens, we believe that having strong financial knowledge is essential to each one of us unlocking our full potential,” said Yvette Vargas, Head of Development at Citizens Financial Group. “We’re proud to partner with Mary Baldwin and the Goalsetter Foundation on this program that will empower and inspire young men of color with the confidence and tools they need to own their financial success.”

Chris Graham

In addition to being the editor of Augusta Free Press, I've written seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For my commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, Want to reach me? Try [email protected].