Philadelphia Eagles News

Bridges to Wealth closes the financial gap

The Eagles continue to support nonprofits that work to reduce barriers to opportunity and end racism. In support of Black History Month, the Eagles are proud to recognize the work of one of these nonprofits each day.

It was by sheer coincidence when Dr. Jill Bazelon and Bridges to Wealth, a nonprofit that empowers disadvantaged communities in Philadelphia through vital business literacy knowledge and financial life skills, applied for a Social Justice Grant from the Eagles to enhance the organization's virtual programs.

This was in the fall of 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic took grip of the entire world.

"When everything went virtual, we were in a much better position than we would have been," she said.

A Philadelphia native and lifelong Eagles fan, Bazelon taught elementary school for five years in the Bronx and in South Central Los Angeles before returning home. In 2012, Bazelon and Dr. Keith Weigelt, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, founded Bridges to Wealth to combat the ever-increasing gap due to a lack of financial education, services, and opportunities. And, unfortunately, there are plenty of numbers to back this up.

• The median wealth of white households is 13 times higher compared to Black households.

• Fewer than 7 percent of minority households invest in the stock market in non-retirement accounts.

• Fewer than 10 percent of U.S. high school students receive financial education in school.

• Half of U.S. states fail to provide required financial education in schools.

"Economic disparities are closely related with health disparities and we've seen that so much during COVID looking at Black and Brown underserved communities being the ones hit the hardest," Bazelon said. "Poverty is the underlying root cause."

What's the solution? Bridges to Wealth leverages its partnership with the University of Pennsylvania through the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to expose high school students to the financial world through mentorships and internships.

"We are in a moment of crisis in education," Bazelon said. "We are doing everything we can to reach students through their classroom teachers through social media, looking to pay them through internship opportunities."

It's inspiring to see what students will create when given resources and support. At Dobbins Technical High School, a group of students created Teens Do Tech, a company that fixes gadgets from computers to phones. Another group of students started a podcast series about life at Dobbins Tech as a student during COVID-19 and the social justice movement. Bridges to Wealth worked with the students to craft a business model to make money from the podcast. Another project involves a food truck that serves low-income areas. One student at Big Picture High School used the extra time at home during the pandemic to produce an album, while most students were playing video games or watching YouTube.

"Students want real-world application," Bazelon said. "They want to know the things that are really going to help them be successful."

It's not just high school students. Nearly 3,000 adults have taken advantage of the free business literacy programs provided by Bridges to Wealth, all in a quest to close the gap.

Learn more about Bridges to Wealth:

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