The Steelers partnered with the Players Coalition, an organization working with athletes, coaches and owners in all sports leagues to improve social justice & racial equality in America, and Inventrify, who works to connect small business owners with investors, for a panel discussion focused on building and preserving generational wealth, improving financial education and economic security for young adults and the community at large.
The discussion was moderated by the Players Coalition's Dr. Chelsea Heyward, who shared the coalition focusing on closing the wealth gap with a four prong approach that includes understanding how to address issues in homes and school and from an employee perspective and corporate perspective.
"I say that framework, and it really aligns with the panelists we have," said Heyward. "In some of those spaces, they stand really tall over the others."
Former Steelers safety Will Allen, the Co-Founder and General Partner of Magarac Venture Partners (MVP) joined the panel, along with Tanya Van Court, Founder and CEO of Goalsetter, Ashley Bell, Co-Founder of National Black Bank Fund, and Brandon Brooks, Founder and CEO of Inventrify.
Allen's company, MVP, is a venture capital firm that focuses on underserved communities that are overlooked, including black and women owned businesses.
"A lot of people have a negative connotation when it comes to (venture capitalism), but African Americans, people of color, haven't taken advantage of it and have been underrepresented," said Allen. "What we are trying to do at MVP is level that playing field. We understand the statistics that are out there, and we want to commit a great portion of our dollars to people of color, leaders of color, women, people that have great ideas, inspiring and market changing ideas that have been historically marginalized. If their performance meets that, and they have market driven ideas, we want to help them.
"It's not I'm taking over your business, it's how can we support you and teach you about the business. The ones that do, you have to support them and put money behind them. That is just the truth. What we want to pride ourselves on is each one, teach one."
And that is the approach all of the panelists have taken, including Van Court, who created the Goalsetter, an app designed to help families begin to save for the future, starting with the youngest members, to put them on the path to financial freedom. As a part of Black History Month in February, Steelers players joined NBA players and other celebrities and influential people to help Black kids in America to receive a Goalsetter account, through a 'draft' of sorts, with the goal to help one million Black kids to start saving. The program kicked off with NBA players, who then posed the 'Who's Got Next' question, which is where the Steelers stepped in. Allen was among the players helping by 'drafting' 100 kids and opening an account for them starting with $40 each, and it will be an account the kids can't touch until they are 18-years old.
Goalsetter uses popular culture and people the kids are familiar with to help them understand finances, and it's something the kids have welcomed and accepted, and the goal is to expand the financial knowledge through schools.
"We embrace this as a community," said Van Court. "We get people the kids love to talk about it and introduce them to financial concepts and products. We as a people don't trust financial institutions, so we bring this to our communities. We absolutely want to get into school systems."