Before the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 121-114 during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day game, a local panel met at the State Farm arena to educate people on how they can create generational wealth.
On the panel was Mark Adams, regional director of consumer banking for Chase Bank, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta, Eloisa Klementich and Eric Tidwell, who is the managing director and general counsel of the Martin Luther King Jr. Estate.
The moderator was Lester Jones who serves as the Hawk’s senior vice president of financial planning and analysis.
During the discussion, the panel agreed that two of the best ways to acquire wealth that can be passed down is through homeownership and starting a business.
However, it was also agreed upon that some of the biggest barriers for people are a lack of access and financial literacy education.
“25% of residents in the city of Atlanta are living in poverty today,” Klementich said. “And if you look at the median household incomes, look at the median household income of an average white family, it’s about $88,000. If you look at the average median household income for an African American family, it’s about $28,000.”
Klementich also noted that in a Westside neighborhood she’s worked in, 40% of residents did not have a bank account or close access to an ATM, resulting in people cashing their checks at payday lending services that often charge high fees.
To try to break down some of those systemic barriers that often keep minorities in a perpetual cycle of poverty, Tidwell recommends people to work on their self-confidence and to also invest time in researching how to take the next steps towards building wealth.
“So I think first, it starts with having the confidence to know that you can improve your financial situation, right?” Tidwell said. “You know, if we don’t have faith or confidence that we can do something, we don’t take that first step… From there, anyone who wants to increase their income, should state a goal of educating themselves on ways that they can do so.”
Adams also agreed that there are a lot of ways people can start to acquire wealth, such as lowering debt, utilizing programs and resources and finding ways to be a “disruptor” in the cycle of poverty. He also believes that at some point, the system that holds people back must also be addressed.
“I think it’s up to, in many respects, the business community and government and other organizations, civic organizations, to be able to create, as I talked about on stage- disruptors- how do we break these cycles, and so part of that is giving people access that maybe they haven’t had historically, giving them information is something that is important,” Adams said.