The NFL Players Association and Black-owned personal finance app Goalsetter recently teamed up to launch “Dropping Jewels,” a league-wide initiative to help bridge economic disparities in Black and Brown communities by teaching kids about saving, investing, and being financially savvy.
On the roster is Houston Texans safety Michael Thomas, who joined Yahoo Finance to talk about the campaign’s Financial Literacy Month kickoff.
As part of the initiative, Thomas and other participating NFL players (Richard Sermon, Russell Okung, Thomas Morstead, and Byron Jones, to name a few) will “draft” classrooms of kids during the month of April. Each student receives $40 in their Goalsetter savings accounts to work with. Via the app, kids learn about saving and investing through memes and GIFs from hip hop artists, pop culture personalities, and social media influencers.
During surprise Zoom classroom visits, the NFL players will impart their own financial wisdom or “drop jewels,” as Goalsetter puts it. Students will also have access to a special course uniquely designed for kids and created by Goalsetter CEO Tanya Van Court called “Building Wealth – A Blueprint to Financial Freedom Inspired by Hip Hop.”
Thomas said the kid-focused approach is what drew him to the program. “I’ll say that was probably one of the first things that got my attention. … What Goalsetter and what [CEO] Tanya Van Court is doing by not only introducing savings and actually investing these to the youth — but allowing them to actually have the opportunity to earn money by taking quizzes by learning through the app,” he said.
“They’re reaching the kids where they are. They’re making it fun. They’re making it something that they’re into. They’re using pop culture, they’re using GIFs to teach these kids about financial literacy and that gets their attention,” he said, “And they’re also incentivizing them being able to say the more you use the app, the more opportunities you’ll have to take quizzes, the more you’ll be able to actually earn allowances.”
“We use that example of do you want $30,000 every single day for 30 days, or do you want a penny for 30 days that doubles every single day and see what their answers are. It’s always surprising for everyone the first time they hear it,” he said.
“You want the penny that doubles because that teaches compound interest that you’ll actually have $5 million if you do the penny versus the $900,000, you’d have with the $30,000 every single day. So just doing exercises like that and letting them know it’s never too early to start learning about saving. It’s never too early to start learning about investing.”
CLEVELAND, OHIO – NOVEMBER 15: Punter Bryan Anger #9 talks with defensive back Michael Thomas #28 of the Houston Texans prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Thomas feels just as passionately about social justice and believes that it’s important for players to speak up and address social inequities. He supports Major League Baseball’s recent decision to move its All-Star game from Atlanta, Georgia, as a result of the state’s new laws that restrict voting rights.
“When it comes to voter suppression and trying to change laws to restrict voting even more than what it already is, you can’t stand for it. Obviously, the league has put out a statement. I can assure you that all the players with everything going on in our country these past few years that momentum and that energy won’t stop … You’ll see players continue to be leaders in their community … You’ll see players step up and lead. You’ll see our unions step up and lead,” he said.