The upcoming Wealth Literacy Conference, the first of its kind in Madison, is looking to change the conversation from financial literacy to wealth literacy for BIPOC and marginalized communities. Afra Smith of The Melanin Project and Veronica Barnes of Mindset2Money, two Black female financial leaders, will be the hosts of the event on Saturday, April 29, at the Goodman Community Center on Madison’s near east side.
Blueprint365 is the media sponsor of the event.
“Our pillars this year are focused on mindset, action planning and community … and we really wanted to start moving the conversation from financial literacy to wealth literacy because wealth literacy is transformational,” Smith says. “It’s how you can build generational wealth. It’s how you can focus on keeping money within your community and making that dollar last in the community.”
Smith and Barnes met in the gALPHA Urban League accelerator program, a four-week venture-creation workshop designed to help individuals or teams develop a plan for an innovative and impactful high-growth business.
“I was so excited to see another Black woman that’s a financial coach who’s into real estate and so we kept in touch. I pitched this idea to her that we should bring wealth literacy to Madison and she got really excited about it,” Smith remembers. “So we wanted to be really intentional about the audience and really focusing on historically marginalized communities who would not normally have access to this information because you have to pay thousands of dollars to get in front of wealth gurus to get this information. I said, ‘I think we can do this differently.’ And so that put us where we are today … bringing this conference to life.”
The inaugural one-day Wealth Literacy Conference will touch on and teach lessons in financial wellness, economic mobility, action planning, and will connect attendees to community resources, according to a press release from organizers of the conference.
“Financial literacy is using your wage as a tool to manifest other things … to get you to that wealth-building pillar. But I think a lack of education is a big factor: We’re just not exposed to a lot of this stuff. We don’t get it in middle school or high school curriculum. Many of us aren’t getting it in our households,” Smith says. “We want to get people exposed to this information early. A lot of it is exposure and then figuring out how to take action … doing tangible things and then connecting people to local resources – Madison is so rich in resources. But until I became an entrepreneur, I had no idea what was available to me.”
Smith founded the Melanin Project to eradicate wealth disparities for women of the Black and African diaspora with programs supporting the building of generational wealth through advocacy, personal empowerment, and financial wellness coaching.
“I definitely think that the journey to building wealth in changing a person’s financial house is a very, very personal journey … and everybody is very different,” Smith says. “But I think when folks get an opportunity to hear very vulnerable stories, and they hear them firsthand and they can see people that look like them that are accomplished that have been through similar circumstances, I think people get fueled by that, even if they make a mistake.
“And the reason why I hone in on that is that just my work with The Melanin Project and having people call me and say, ‘Thank you. I really appreciate the time that you spent with me over a year ago. Here’s where I’m at today,’” Smith adds. “And I know that that means that I’m doing the right thing. I’m moving in the right direction, just getting people in the atmosphere while I’m exposing them to information and then setting them up with his action planning piece is really, really important.”
The morning keynote for the Wealth Literacy Conference will be made by Dr. Dominique Pritchett, founder of Beloved Wellness Center, a licensed therapist, and wellness strategist. A lunch panel will be moderated by Madison365 with the season topic of “Economic Opportunity for People of Color.”
The afternoon keynote will be made by Valeah Rae, founder of Valeah Rae Coaching.
Smith says she hopes the Wealth Literacy Conference will inspire people to action well beyond the day of the event.
“I can give you the information. The information is in a book. I can verbalize it to you. Our speakers can verbalize it to you. But none of that matters if you as an individual are not going to take action,” Smith says. “So that is one of the things that our second keynote will be speaking about in the evening session. We’re making that the last section for the very purpose of getting people to take action. And by the way, here are some resources.
“There are various resources for financial literacy, entrepreneurship, real estate, home ownership programs, downpayment assistance programs … we’re gonna give all of that to them in this digital download, so the action planning piece is a critical pillar and that is why we’re holding it at the tail end of the conference”
The Wealth Literacy Conference is created to be accessible to anyone who will benefit from attending.
“Our target audience is definitely Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color (BIPOC) and other folks from historically marginalized communities,” Smith says. “And what I’ll say is this year’s conference – although it focuses on some of the most basic elements – I think it doesn’t matter where you are on your journey because this is information that I am still using today. These are the basic pillars that everybody needs to carry on no matter where you are in your wealth-building journey.”
To get tickets to the first annual Wealth Literacy Conference on April 29 at the Goodman Community Center, click here.