Financial Literacy Is Critical

Karen A Clark City Nation Bank

SPECIAL EPISODE: Diversity Matters in the Middle Market. Brought to you in collaboration with the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG).

 

Being financially literate does more than help your bottom line: it also improves your mental health. Today’s guest has experienced this firsthand… Join us to hear from Karen A. Clark, SVP Multicultural Strategies with City Nation Bank, a community activist and financial literacy volunteer. Karen talks us through how the positive attitude at the bank that she works at inspired her to make a difference in those around her and what her first experience educating kids about savings was like. Find out about the obstacles throughout history that black and brown Americans have had to overcome to gain wealth and how financial literacy is linked to societal turmoil. Tune in to learn how, where, and why you should be volunteering your financial expertise and so much more in this inspirational episode.

Key Points From This Episode

  • How Karen got to where she is now.
  • How black and brown Americans have historically been left out of financial education and savings and investment opportunities.
  • Redlining and the collapse of the Freedman’s Bank: how the wealth gap has widened throughout history.
  • How financial literacy improves emotional wellness and subsequently reduces turmoil in the world.
  • The link between mental health and sound financial decisions.
  • How Karen’s experience of bankruptcy showed her the impact of financial stress on her mental health.
  • How you can contribute to improving financial literacy: who to volunteer with, and what makes you qualified.
  • Karen’s experience with kindergartners and how she started her volunteering journey.

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Diversity Matters in the Middle Market Podcast, where industry leaders share their compelling growth stories and the unseen challenges they have overcome. Our goal is to inform and inspire our listeners to take action and make diversity, equality and inclusion a pillar of your organization. This is a production of the Association for Corporate Growth, ACG and Connection Builders.

[EPISODE]

[00:00:24] AD: Hi, everyone. Welcome to an episode of the Diversity Matters in the Middle Market Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today we’re joined by Karen A. Clark, an SVP of Multicultural Strategies with City National Bank. Karen and I discuss the racial wealth gap that exists today and why volunteering to help promote financial literacy is key to building a more equitable society. All right, let’s jump in.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:00:48] AD: Karen, welcome to the Diversity Matters Podcast. Excited to have you here today.

[00:00:52] KC: Well, hello, Alex. I’m so excited to be here.

[00:00:55] AD: Karen, why don’t we just start off with a little bit of background? Who are you and tell us a little bit about what you do?

[00:01:00] KC: Well, I am Karen A. Clark, not to be confused with the other Karen Clarks in the world. There’s 10 million of them. What I do, I work for a financial services institution. I am a community activist. I am an entertainer. I’m a producer. I’m a writer and I’m just a liver and lover of life. I’m a mother, too, and a grandmother. Believe it or not, Alex, I am a great grandmother. My oldest granddaughter, who’s 22, got married and had a baby over the pandemic and is working on her second one. This is what a great grandmothership looks like when you take care of your business.

[00:01:40] AD: You totally have me surprised there. I would never have guessed. Let me give a little context to our listeners. Karen, you and I met out in LA at an ECG Diversity event where you were just sharing some of your thoughts on diversity and some of the work that you do in your organization. Now, you’ve done work in around the diversity space within financial services institutions for a long time, right?

[00:02:04] KC: A very, very long time. I’ve done it internationally.

[00:02:07] AD: Give us just a little context behind that. Help us understand some of those previous roles.

[00:02:11] KC: Okay, I will. Way back in the day, Alex, I do go way back to the mid-90s, when I first got into the DEI space, and I actually was with Bank of America at the time. Bank of America had pumped millions. In fact, there was about 20 million into a program called Managing Inclusion. I became one of the trainers. There were 17 of us gallivanting around the world, as a matter of fact. Bank of America had 20,000 associates that had to go through this mandatory two-day program. I was one of the trainers. It really was all about how you increase your bottom-line productivity by removing the filters and the biases that you have, so that you can get the best out of every single employee that works for you.

That was the beginning of my training in inclusion. That’s the background and then it’s just carried on from there, multicultural marketing, diversity and inclusion and financial education, to me is so extremely important, because if we ever really want to get to equity, as it relates to wealth and finance in this country, financial education is a huge component of that.

[00:03:27] AD: Let’s talk a little bit more about that. What does that mean to you? Just peel into that a little bit more.

[00:03:33] KC: Yeah. In this country, there are very few states that require us to have personal finance, or financial education before we graduate from high school. For somebody like me, the way that can show up, that lack of knowledge and education, is when I got to college, I was hustling my way through. I didn’t have much money. I’m just getting every dime that I can to pay for my way. One day, I’m walking across the campus and here’s all these credit card companies and they have poster events, and they have stuffed animals, and they have all kinds of things.

All you have to do is fill out an application, you will get a prize and you might get some credit, which I needed in order to buy books. I have gotten all the money for my tuition that semester and now I needed books. Food would have been nice, too. Anyway, I filled out, I don’t know, two or three applications. I was very truthful on those applications. I was actually working at one of the — I was working at the library on campus, 10 hours a week and certainly, wasn’t enough to pay back a loan, which I thought the credit card can be perfectly understood. I thought they were offering credit cards to college students, because we were going to graduate, get jobs, be good citizens, good consumers, pay back our credit card debt. I really thought that’s the way it worked. I did not read the fine print.

My parents did not use credit cards, except for emergencies. They kept them in what we call the strong box. It was hidden away with all the important family papers. I didn’t know anything about credit. I thought that these companies were being benevolent. They were helping me, so that I would then help them when I became this fantastic professional and a consumer of theirs. Long story short, things went from bad to worse after I graduated from college, and I ended up filing bankruptcy at age 28, which was an anomaly back then at that age, but no longer. It’s not anymore.

I am so passionate, Alex, because that was a very painful time in my life, not just emotionally. It was very emotionally painful, because I had two little kids, my husband and I got married in college, had both our kids before we graduated from college. Here I am, having to file bankruptcy. I’m a young professional and I was working for a bank. Here’s a stigma. I’m like, “I can’t tell my company that I’m financially bankrupt. I can’t ask them for help. I don’t know where to go for help”. There was no online. There was no Google. Yeah, where do I go? Who can I tell? Then it was seven years, seven years of climbing out of that stigma.

I am so passionate that kids do not have to go through that. That they can get all the information that they need, so that they can ask the right questions and stay out of financial trouble. The wealth gap grows and grows in this country, because we are not intentionally doing anything to close that wealth gap and teaching people how to be financially self-sufficient.

[00:06:28] AD: Your passion comes out. You obviously have a lot of reason to be passionate behind this. Let’s dig into why it matters. Why does financial literacy matter? Obviously, you hit a lot of challenges, because obviously, it impacted your ability to both emotionally, to perform at home, perform at work. It can impact especially in this day and age, it can impact your ability to get a job, but most employers run some a credit report check. There are a lot of negative effects to it. But what else happens when we just simply don’t understand financial literacy?

[00:06:56] KC: What happens and I think, let me just go back to the summer of 2020, when George Floyd was murdered. Whenever we have some in a huge flashpoint in this country, that’s when we start looking at inequities, right? It’s like, “Oh, my God. How do we get here? What else needs to be fixed?” One thing we started hearing that summer was this wealth gap, growing wealth gap, and that white Americans have X percentage more wealth than black Americans and brown Americans, etc., etc. If you look at the history of this country, the most common way wealth was created for Americans was through home ownership, the great American dream. It’s called the great American dream for a reason.

For a very long time, if you were not white American, if you were not white, you were locked out of that home buying system. You have a whole group of people who with no financial education, know wherewithal, or knowledge of how to create wealth. Things just went from bad to worse coming out of slavery, right? Coming out of slavery, you had hundreds of thousands of people who could not read or write, much less understand personal finance, or wealth. If the country did not want these people to become a burden, the smartest thing to do, we need to teach them how to be self-sufficient. That is exactly what President Lincoln thought would be the smart thing to do.

President Lincoln established, what was called the Freedmen’s Bank. The Freedmen’s Bank was an institution that not only would collect and house deposits from freed slaves, but it would also teach them how to manage this money, teach them how to use this money to create wealth. People may say, “Well, what kind of deposits did freed slaves have?” Well, there were lots of jobs. Slaves eventually were able to get housecleaning jobs, working on the railroad, working in coal mines, working as sharecroppers, working on other people’s land, doing what they’ve had been doing prior to slavery, but getting paid a little bit of money.

The bottom line is that in 37 branches of this Freedmen’s Bank over an ensuing eight-year period, these freed slaves saved and deposited, what would be in today’s adjusted for inflation, 57 million dollars. The problem is that President Lincoln was assassinated two weeks after he established this Freedman’s Bank. The charter that went with it was completely violated. What President Lincoln had established was that none of these deposits could be invested in any risky or private ventures. They can only be invested in government grade, low-grade, low-risk government bonds. But after he was assassinated, those trustees just did whatever the heck they wanted, and they ran the bank into the ground, used all that money over the years to invest in their own risky ventures.

In the last year of its existence, Frederick Douglass came in and he invested 10,000 of his own money, and unfortunately, was unable to save the bank. The whole notion of educating slaves and helping them to come up financially just went away, until reconstruction. Then we saw one of the greatest boons in our economy and really one of the greatest collaborative moments in our history between races, but that didn’t last very long. Over decades, legislation actually began to lock black people out of the home buying process.

[MESSAGE]

[00:10:45] ANNOUNCER: Today’s episode is brought to you by Connection Builders, helping Middle Market Professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[00:10:53] AD: I want to jump in from it, and I want to just for our listeners, I want to make sure first off, understanding and knowing history is critically important when we’re talking about this. Recognizing that well, and we started this all around the wealth gap, and it does exist within this country. There’s no question that it exists, the data is out there to prove it. Wealth is built up over generations and to your point, when the Civil War was initially ended, and we had this mass population, the freed men that were initially supposed to get, I think it was 40 acres and a mule, that that never came to fruition and you had the Freedmen’s Bank as an example.

Also, many other challenges they were faced, but in the form of creating economic wealth, it was in a bank that was ran by white guys, at the end of the day, that ended up making speculative bets, and the bank went belly up. What that does is it evaporated any of that wealth that was starting to be created among that population.

Now, fast forward to really, I think the next major milestone behind a lot of this comes into what you were just about to dive into, which is redlining and ultimately, lending programs into homeownership, which came largely after World War II is when the biggest boom came behind that, right?

[00:12:04] KC: Yes, that is true, Alex. That term, you just used redlining and financial services, I guess, just in the history of America, if you’re old enough, we know it’s a negative term. What redlining did was, on real estate maps, it outlined and it showed real estate agents, contract home sellers, it showed them where they could and could not sell homes to black people. But what people don’t realize is that it was actually our federal government who was the original redlining agency with these edicts and these programs. Now they, of course, outlaw and prevent others from redlining.

This egregious history really, up until 1964 and a civil rights march really prevented black folks from growing wealth, from establishing and growing wealth. There was even some programs called contract homes and in the Midwest, particularly in Chicago, and that Illinois area and a few other states. It was legal for an agent to contract a home seller to sell a home to a black family, but they were like — it was rent to own, if you would.

You paid your mortgage every single month, but if you were ever late, even a day, and even if you had paid your mortgage on time for 15, 20 years, one day late and the entire contract reverted back to the seller, including all the money that was already put into the home and there were millions and millions and millions of dollars of wealth that were literally stolen from families in the 50s, and mostly the 50s and the 60s from this system.

There’s just been some a lot of obstacles, a lot of obstacles. That’s why now, it’s just urgent for me to, if I have the information, I can help somebody, yeah, hook them up with the first-time home-buyers program, or income property program, just teaching and helping people to do better.

[00:14:07] AD: I want to dive into that next around, what do we do? How do we teach it? How does that drive and create a better outcome for people? But what I want listeners to make sure you really take away is one, I can just speak from my own experience around this. You brought up George Floyd and the murder of George Floyd, I can unfortunately admit that I am someone that that was the catalyst that made me step back and say, “Well, what’s going on in this country?” I’m fortunate that it gave me an opportunity to learn to expand my understanding, and I’ve done as much work as I have had the capacity to do over the last year and a half to try to understand this and there’s still so much more to go.

What I can say from my own experience through this is, it’s been eye-opening to understand this, to understand the challenges behind reconstruction. The challenges behind the Freedmen’s Bank, the challenges of redlining, Lovett town’s another good example and these situations have been created time and time again, in very, we can say the 60s is when in theory, stopped. Obviously, there’s still been other challenges in our country since. Certainly, before the 60s, it was a major issue that was government supported in many cases, which isn’t really that long ago, when we think about history and especially about wealth creation.

Think about the difference that your socioeconomic status makes for the future of your life, and how that effect of blocking out a portion of the population of predominantly black and brown people from having access to that ability to build wealth, creates a situation where you do have that disparity exist. That disparity and in poverty breeds poverty in many ways, it creates a really bad situation, right? That’s why we’re here.

[00:15:37] KC: Yes, it does, Alex. Poverty creates a really bad situation and it creates burdens on society that don’t have to be there. Why do we want this? Why do we want this? We teach people how to come up, so that we’re not constantly having to look over our shoulder look over our back to that person that is deprived and desperate.

[00:15:55] AD: I think that’s such a really important point of this, is that when we talk about, and this is a little off topic of financial literacy, but I think it ties in very well. When we talk about there’s higher crime rates in low income neighborhoods and especially in urban cities, you typically have a higher crime rate and a higher poverty rate, a lower income rate in many times tends to be black and brown communities. That’s a function of everything we just talked about the build-up of the history of everything that’s happened in this country since 1619, all the way building up to today.

But when you’re in that situation, we’re living in that situation. Think about the fear that you live with, think about the emotional challenges, the challenges that you live through in what it creates is the fear for others that the crime that we’re worried about, the fear of that area, is really because the individuals that are living there are living on the edge, right? They’re trying to survive, they’re in survival mode in many cases, and that does nothing but perpetuate poor behavior in many cases, because when we’re trying to survive, we do things that we may not otherwise do, right?

[00:16:57] KC: Certain, we did. It’s also interesting to me, when we talk about crime. There’s all kinds of crime, there’s blue collar crime, there’s white collar crime. Some crime is more acceptable than other crimes, some crime seems to be a little bit more base at animalistic than other crime. However, when it was the wild, wild-west, when it was the cold, you’re back in the stone-age is, I mean, you’re right, everybody was wild doing what they had to do, right? Then we, we put laws in place to bring organization to things. If there weren’t laws in place, quite frankly, everybody would be wild, because there’d be nothing preventing anyone and it would just be the culture and the way it is.

That desperation, that I mean, first of all, you’ve got folks who are truly deprived of food and clothes and shelter, right? Then you have folks who, maybe they’re not, but they’re just pissed, okay? Then you’re mixing up all these different elements. There’s no apples and oranges, but I think that if we were to address people’s basic needs in an equitable and humane fashion, we’d see a whole lot less turmoil in this world of all kinds. Back to that notion of crime, I think it’s horrible.

I mean, it’s just all gotten so crazily out of control. It’s all bad. If it hurts somebody, it’s all bad. It’s all bad. We’ve got to figure out how to make people feel more relevant, more seen, more whole, more heard, more recognized. We’ve got you, because this thing is just going to get worse and worse. There’s a lot of people out there who are just plain angry, angry at being invisible and angry at being able to live and fulfill their dreams.

[00:19:04] AD: I think, a really important point that you’re bringing up though, is at the end of the day, humans in human nature, especially when we’re talking about in crimes, a very broad word, but when we’re talking about these acts that people do that maybe are certainly not acceptable within our society. Oftentimes, that’s driven by some level of poor mental health. Some level of channel. Something’s going on in your head, right? There’s something behind that.

I think, one thing that’s very easy to forget that good, high quality mental health is typically a privilege. The ability to really to feel safe, to feel secure, to feel like you have things under control, to feel like you don’t have to worry about something going wrong, that that is something that it’s a place that I wish everyone could live in, but it’s also a place that is a privilege to be into. Think about that, when you’re in that place where you’re feeling that, where you’re feeling and just for everyone listening like think about a place in your life where you felt stressed? Do you make poor decisions when you’re stressed? Absolutely. The more stressed you become, the worse your decisions get. That’s the cycle that we see perpetuating itself.

[00:20:08] KC: You are so right. I just posted an article on LinkedIn just the other day, and it was all about making poor financial decisions when you are emotionally stressed and how you got to figure out how to just calm down before you do that. But that mental health, Alex, that is so important and it’s such a key. Look how many more people, everyday we see more and more people that need that. I do work for a financial institution, and our parent company is a Canadian bank. I’m just going to say it, they’re the Royal Bank of Canada, and I admire them for their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives over many years now.

When I first came in contact with them, and I was looking at their information and their history, they are very concerned about mental health in how they sponsor a lot of programs for youth, for their mental health and well-being. I said, “Well, how odd that a financial institution would be so concerned.” That the CEO in the bank says, “We have to have healthy individuals if we want this society — and financial institutions are at the heart and the crux and the soul of our society keeping things moving, right? That CEO says, “Why shouldn’t we have an obligation to care for the mental health of our future consumers?” I’ve said, “Wow, that is so great.” It makes all the doggone sense in the world. But how out of box thinking is that for a financial institution?

[00:21:38] AD: It’s very out of the box. Actually, it’s a great place to tie this into our core topic around financial literacy, because mental health, the quality of your mental health, does have a lot to do with your financial standing. I think, we can all relate to that whether good or bad. We live in a world that money does drive a lot of our daily life and the way that we interact with the world. If I find myself in a position where I feel like I am constantly drowning, constantly trying to get my head above water, there is no end in sight. There’s no break for me. I don’t know how I’m going to make ends meet.

Where do you think my mental health is going to be? What headspace do you think I’m going to be in? When those are the thoughts that are continuing to, actually let’s go back to when your challenges around you got a credit card, you realize that that wasn’t the best financial decision, and it pushed you into a place of, what was your mental health like during that time? How were you feeling, right?

[00:22:29] KC: I was so stressed, Alex. I tell you, what I did do. I said “Somebody’s got to give me some advice”. I went to the Yellow Pages and I called up an attorney that said our free consultation and he was a really, really great guy. He taught me a lot in that one hour, but one thing he said, he said, “Do not file bankruptcy.” He said, “Don’t do it.” He told me all the reasons why. He told me what I should do, instead of that. He actually gave me steps. Here’s what you should do instead of that, because here’s the problem, it’s going to cause you, you don’t want to do that, you’re 27, 28, don’t do it.

I was so stressed. I was crushed. My wages are being garnished. My husband was working. My late husband was working in the indie film company. He was a communications major film minor, and he got his dream job, but it didn’t pay any money. Our kids were like three or four years old. I’m like, “How the Hell are we going to feed these kids?” If I file bankruptcy, I get immediate relief, on my wages being garnished. I immediately can get my whatever, 100 bucks. I know how much in there. But it was all I had. I did it, because I was so emotionally pressed against the good damn advice of this attorney, on the west-side, by the way.

[MESSAGE]

[00:23:46] ANNOUNCER: Today’s episode is brought to you by the Association for Corporate Growth. The Premier M&A deal-making community with a mission to drive middle-market growth.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[00:23:56] AD: Let’s actually, let’s move into financial literacy for a minute, because everything we’ve hit on is so important. Mental health is so important, but the financial literacy and understanding money and understanding how money functions is a lot of what can drive your success in your relationship with money and how that affects you throughout your life.

Now, knowing for our audience, and for our listeners who are based on who we’re targeting the show towards are predominantly people that are in and around financial services, the M&A community, private equity investment banking or the accountants, the lawyers, the bankers, those that sit outside of that same ecosystem. I would argue, I would — well, everyone has a different level of financial literacy. Most individuals that are in those types of career paths have both a probably above normal above average compensation level, but also an above average education around the financial markets and how the financial systems work, especially those that work specifically in financial services, right?

I can speak from my own perspective, my own life through this. I grew up in a home, in an environment that had absolutely no teaching, no education around financial literacy. It was something that I learned 100% of on my own, within my college experience and in particular within my finance classes and starting to understand the capital markets and what that meant, how money works, how the true compounding effect of money works, and thinking through that. That made a radical difference in my life.

So, let’s talk then, knowing that our listener base probably has some general knowledge of financial literacy. What can we, those of us that have that knowledge, what can we do with that knowledge to help solve the problem that we’re talking about?

[00:25:27] KC: Yes, your listeners can volunteer. If they’re intimidated, and I can even give you programs to call where everything is coordinated for you, you can even tell this program, it’s called Operation Hope. As a matter of fact, I used to work for them. They are completely supported by banks. They’ve got a big board, five, six regional boards, and you will see bankers, financial folks, investors all over their board. What they do is, educate people financially. We started in the schools. I say we, because I’m an operational volunteer. I volunteer wherever I can, but this company will actually you can tell them, where do you want to teach, I think to be over right over there, give it they — they will find a school and coordinate for you and teach you of you know, that one plus one equals two.

I say that, because people are intimidated. They’re like, “I can’t teach financial aid.” But I tell you one plus one equals two all day long. When you’re talking to a kindergartener, or first, second, third grader, right? Because if you’re intimidated, just go to one of those classes, you will have so much joy. The first time I taught, I was just a teacher in high schoolers. The first time I had to teach in kindergarten, I was a little intimidated. I’m like, “What am I going to teach them?” I said, “Okay, you guys, who might tell me your name.” They did. I said, “Now, we’re going to talk about savings. Does anybody save money. Does anybody know what that is?”

Then this one little girl, she raised her hand, she goes, “Is that like having a piggy bank?” I go, “Yes. Yes, we’re going to talk about that.” We were off and running. If you’re intimidated, start with some little kids, I can give you a company, or you can just call the school they’re always taking in volunteers, and go spend 40 minutes, teaching some kids about saving their money, and why it’s important. I am telling you, it will enrich your life that it starts that child on a journey at a very, very early age, with ideas and notions that will change their life.

Now I do it regularly. I’m the financial aid director for a program and I make sure I’m hitting as many kids as I can, anybody asked me to come teach, I actually run a financial ed program at my employer, and we’re a bank. Because see, this is the thing, a lot of people go work for a bank Alex, but they don’t work for the investment group. They don’t work for the wealth management group. They don’t work in the brand. They’re doing all of the other things. We have and it is packed, we go all the way from credit, home buying, started business, income property, we do the whole gamut trust versus a will. Those rooms are packed, because people want the information. When you know better, you do better period.

[00:28:05] AD: When you know better, you do better. I think that is a key topic or key way of thinking, right? These ties back to all of this. Think about going to ask everyone listening to this. Just think about your own personal relationship with money. We all have different relationships with it. We all, some better than others, but think through the ups and downs in your life around finance, think about what your parents told you or taught you about money, how you felt about money in college, how you felt about money as you were coming out into the real world, the financial challenges you might have hidden. Understand that the sooner you can gain some knowledge and understand that, the easier it is to avoid some of those traps that might exist out there. Those traps, once you get stuck in a — payday loans are a great example. I grew up in a house with that payday loans were a relatively common thing that we’re used in the household.

I started to watch that. I’ve seen what that trap looks like. That’s a trap that people get stuck into, because it seemed the right thing at the time. The credit cards that you had, you get stuck in a trap around some of that. It doesn’t mean that certain financial instruments don’t have a value or benefit in some ways, but helping people gain a better understanding of in even at a fundamental level, how to think about interest or how to think about the repayment of capital or the idea that if I’m taking a loan today, I’m really I’m taking my future earnings and spending them today to repay them later at an increased cost. That’s something that many people are raised in an environment that that’s just never discussed or socialized on. So there’s no knowledge, there’s no understanding of it, right?

[00:29:36] KC: Exactly. Exactly and see, when we talk about poverty and people living in poverty, we look back to those freed slaves, who had nothing but saved collectively in today’s terms, $57 million, so if they can do it. We can do it. That’s what I teach kids back to those old-fashioned principles. Pay yourself first 10%, just do it, just do it. When I, after I found bankruptcy, I finally learned about real budget and really how to, we learned I met my parents need to that, but you know how we do it, put a budget together, it’s like, okay, there’s my budget, and then you go do whatever the hell you want to do.

I actually started using my doggone on budget, and the best thing that came out of that was peace of mind. That’s what I tell the kids, after I — mental health, I go through my budget, take care of that, I might not have one penny left, but guess what I got peace of mind, because I know my phone’s about to be cut off, gas is not about to be cut off, and my lights are still going to be on and from there, I can continue to make magic happen. Mental health, peace of mind.

[00:30:42] AD: If it’s wild, how far that goes. Karen, I’m going to give a quick summary of what we covered today. We started the conversation around the importance of financial literacy in really took it back to the wealth gap that exists within this country, specifically between white Americans and black and brown Americans. Talked about some of the build-up that came from post-Civil War, reconstruction, the Freedmen’s Bank, moving into redlining me of the effects that that has had historically, on wealth creation and generation and preservation of wealth. Knowing all that, and it brought us to where we’re at today. We can’t rewrite history, unfortunately. But we’re here today. We know that gap exists, we know it is there. But we also know that financial literacy is so important to helping people overcome some of those challenges.

We also know that the mental health, the stressors that come into life, when you are living in that situation, when you are living at a poverty impoverished level, those challenges are what create poor behaviors on our part. It’s the stress, it’s poor, it’s negative mental health that it’s affecting people. One of the best ways that we can help overcome this, and especially again, speaking to our listeners on this, this is an opportunity to go volunteer. To go out there, to help people learn and whether you’re starting with a kindergarten classroom or you’re working in a high school or wherever it might be, go look for opportunities to take the knowledge that you have, and go share it.

Even if you don’t feel comfortable with it, recognize that you probably have a better grip on it than you think and with a little bit of resource and training, there’s organizations out there. We’ll make sure to link them in the show notes here. But there are places to go find that and just go out and volunteer and give and educate people on that, because it will have a lifelong compounding effect. I love that you said it, you know better, you do better. If you could help someone know better, they’ll do better. That’s going to drive, that’s going to drive to a better place.

[00:32:29] KC: They will. Amen, brother.

[00:32:31] AD: Karen, this has been an awesome conversation. I really appreciate you coming on here. I appreciate the dialogue around this and for our listeners, how can they reach out and get a hold of you?

[00:32:39] KC: You can find me on LinkedIn, you can find me anywhere. All you have to do is put Karen A. Clark, you will find me. I’m really good on LinkedIn too. If you hook up with me, I will hit you back. I’m very good on LinkedIn. But yeah, just Google Karen A Clark, I’ll come right up.

[00:32:57] AD: Karen A. Clark. Awesome. We’ll make sure to link in the show notes as well. So make sure to reach out to Karen and connect with her. Karen, I appreciate you coming on again. It’s been an awesome conversation.

[00:33:05] KC: Thank you. Thank you, Alex. Listen, I have a book coming out next year #Through The Glass Ceiling. My third CD will be out next year Super Woman. Like I said, I’m expecting my second, great grand. I got lots of things on the plate.

[00:33:19] AD: I can’t wait to keep up with it all. We’ll talk to you soon. Thank you.

[00:33:23] KC: Thanks, Alex. Bye.

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[00:33:26] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for tuning into today’s episode of the Diversity Matters in the Middle Market Podcast. We hope you enjoyed our content and encourage you to take action today. While no individual will bring all the changes necessary, we can all make an impact. If you enjoyed our content, please share with your network. This is a production of the Association for Corporate growth, ACG and Connection Builders

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