One United Bank owner Teri Williams will be in Los Angeles Saturday, June 2, for the institution’s eighth annual “I Got Bank” book giveaway, an event aimed at getting children of color on the road to financial literacy and health. Organizers also announced that ten children will win a $1000 savings account for the best essays and art projects representing the “I Got Bank” theme. The event will be held at the bank’s Crenshaw branch from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.
Actor Chike Okonkwo (“Being Mary Jane”) will also be on hand at the giveaway.
“The ‘I Got Bank’ Book giveaway is particularly close to my heart because I don’t know that I got a lot of lessons on financial literacy as a kid,” Okonkwo said.
“I wasn’t encouraged to save. The young people who will come through the Crenshaw Branch on June 2 will get a truly inspiring story told to them, and an opportunity to learn what is needed to build generational wealth. That is something that is needed in the Black community, and something that I am excited to encourage. I’ll also get to use my storyteller voice, as I’ll be reading the book to some of the young people on the day. So if you’re in the area, come out. It’ll be a fun time.”
“I always say to kids, ‘this book includes everything you need to learn about money going into your life,’” said Williams.
“The entire story of money is in this book. And, it’s told in a funny way, in a way that kids can relate to… I can tell you that every kid who has read this book, it has changed their life.”
The approximately 60-page book tells the story of ten-year-old Jazz Elllington, who has saved $2000, which his mom, his brother and sister are trying to spend. Ellington, explained Williams, has to figure out how to save that money, while at the same time help his family. The book actually began as a pamphlet meant to supplement Williams’ financial literacy workshops in adopted schools.
“We wanted to adopt some schools in our community to teach financial literacy,” Williams recalled.
“We wanted to identify some books for a curriculum that we could use. We looked at books that were available. We looked online, we looked in bookstores and really couldn’t find anything that talked about the issues that our community has to deal with.”
“They were more books that talked about kids having lemonade stands in front of white picket fences, things like that. They didn’t include anything about things that we see in our community like check cashers, check systems records, bad credit scores etc…
“So, I said, ‘I’ll just write a little pamphlet for our school program.’ Once I started writing, the little boy named Jazz really started speaking to me. I said, ‘you really got to keep going because there’s more…’”
One of the book’s major themes is issues surrounding group poverty mentality vs. individual wealth mentality.
“An issue that [families of color] often experience is that there are one or two people in the family who are doing okay,” Williams said.
“And people in the family are more like ‘you’ve got all this, why don’t you help me’ So, how do you move forward while at the same time help your family. How do you deal with the guilt, how do you deal with the anger and at the same time the love that you have for your family?”
For the contest, One United has partnered with BMe Community to “search for the brightest kids between the ages of 8 and 12.” The kids are encouraged to read a financial literacy book of their choosing and then write either a 250 word essay or create an art project to show how they would apply what they learned from the book to their daily lives. Submissions must be emailed or post marked by June 15.
Awards will be given by August 31. For more information and official contest rules visit www.oneunited.com/book.