Bed-Stuy’s Tanya Van Court is on a $40 million mission to close the racial wealth gap this Black History Month.
On Feb 1., the first day of Black History Month, NBA star Chris Paul announced he was kicking off a Goalsetter campaign that aims to open 1 million savings accounts for Black and Brown kids through the app, with each account starting with $40 in it.
“If a child has a savings account in their name they’re six-times more likely to go to college and four time more likely to own stocks by the time they’re 25 years old,” Van Court said.
“Not matter how much they have in it initially. And so if we can just get savings accounts into the hands of every kid in Brooklyn, we’ll be changing the game.”
Van Court said her perspective as a mom and a woman of color set Goalsetter and its mission apart from other mobile banking apps in the market.
“I happen to be one of the few Black-owned and women-owned [financial technology] companies created for kids in this country,” she said.
“Every other [financial technology] app has been created by white males and so I think that it’s my job to represent the women and the people of color in this space.”
Part of that job has been taking a close look at how she can use her product to close the wealth gap. The former Nickelodeon executive has lived in Brooklyn for 21 years, and said when the pandemic hit the neighborhood last year, the gap was laid bare.
“We were the first ones in the country to really see and understand what a pandemic could do to a community, and what a pandemic can do to people who are already struggling day-to-day and don’t have choices.”
Van Court pointed to a 2017 stat by Prosperity Now, a nonprofit think tank that studies economic opportunities for low-income areas. The report said if the wealth divide continues, the median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053, while the median Latino household could be zero by 2073.
“The wealth gap is marching Black and Brown kids towards economic extinction if we don’t teach them how to build wealth and build generational wealth,” Van Court said.
The Goalsetter app allows kids and parents to learn financial literacy together, as well as allowing peer-to-peer transactions. Users can also put funds on banking cards for purchases.
One of it features is learn before you burn, which allows parents to lock debit cards until their children complete weekly financial literacy quizzes. “They’re learning needs versus wants in kindergarten, and stocks versus bonds in 11th grade,” Van Court said.
The quizzes and content incorporates cultural and kid-friendly content like memes, GIFs, and celebrities from sport and music.
In January, as it closed its $3.9 million seed round, Goalsetter announced the Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant was one of its new investors.
Van Court said she was “so proud” to have him as an investor, not just for the fact that he’s such a star on the court, but also a “hero to me” as a Black entrepreneur.
“Every kid in Brooklyn may not grow up to be in the NBA, but they can absolutely be Kevin Durant the investor and businessman,” she said.
Durant said he was proud to support Goalsetter in its mission to increase financial literacy in Black and Brown communities.
“Financial education is fundamental to building wealth. We are excited for young people and families to have this tool as they take control of their financial future and become savvy investors and future entrepreneurs,” he said.
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