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Black and Brown Young People Need More Than STEM.

Let’s be clear, I believe EVERY young black and brown person should know how to code. In fact, if you are a parent, guardian, family member, or friend of a young black or brown person, go to Google and search “Opportunity Divide” and “Digital Skills Gap”. Your search will populate hundreds of resources and organizations dedicated to bridging or eliminating The Opportunity Divide and Digital Skills Gap. Moreover, there are several nonprofit organizations with a clear mission to solve for equal access to digital skills and opportunity. To further their mission, these organizations receive funding or sponsorships from large enterprises. In addition, many of these organizations train young black and brown people in Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Information Technology and partner with companies to find internships and apprenticeships once training is complete. The goal is that the introductory roles transition to full-time or permanent placement. I am familiar with several of these organizations and I’m really proud of the work they do!

What I would like to see more of is financial literacy as a part of the training. We teach the young people about microaggressions, imposture syndrome, professionalism in the workplace, however, we do not teach them the importance of investing and saving. We do not teach them how a 6–12-month emergency fund will be the difference between having a financial cushion if you should get laid off or having to apply for a predatory payday loan. We do not tell them about FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) and how if you invest and save you can live off the interest from your interest-bearing savings account or investment account. We do not teach them that if your company has a 401K plan with a matching program how they are leaving money on the table if they fail to participate in the plan.

I am not suggesting that these nonprofits hire a training developer to build a financial literacy program. I am suggesting that they start with the basics. For example, add a book to the training course and discuss the readings as a group. The Black Girl’s Guide to Financial Freedom: Build Wealth, Retire Early, and Live the Life of Your Dreams byParis Woods is an excellent choice. I have read this book front to back, and it is extremely helpful for young black girls starting out in their careers and even more experienced black women will find useful golden nuggets. My ask to the organizations out there is to think about adding this $15 paperback as a resource or consider other tools to spark conversation with the younger generation. Landing a lucrative career is certainly something to be proud of but understanding how to invest in yourself and your future is another. Ultimately, shouldn’t we all be invested in getting rid of the racial wealth gap in the U.S.? With all the layoffs we’re seeing in technology and across other fields, don’t you think it’s worth it?

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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