Durham is revered for Black Wall Street as a place where African Americans found economic prosperity in the early twentieth century. Now, a group that honors that legacy inspires the next generation of Durham entrepreneurs
Wall Street Juniors Inc., a nonprofit founded by a Hillside High School alumna in 2018, teaches financial literacy to Durham K-12 students to increase generational wealth.
“I was looking in at which way I could be most systematic in starting a revolution to end that poverty and create generational wealth,” MaKayla Booker said. “When I looked at it that way, I definitely wanted to provide free resources for them so they too could learn this information — this knowledge — about credit-building skills, budget plans and financial literacy.”
Fifteen students ranging from 7-17 years old are currently in WSJ. WSJ programming includes parent training, volunteer work, workshops, mentorship and professional, business and personal development.
Booker said the program is individualized for each child, but all of them are required to participate in a community service activity each month.
“Our mentorship program with our youth is something we’re most proud of,” Booker said. “We definitely have an intimate group this year.”
Another program called Individualized Achievement Plan provides an incentive where students earn “Wall Street Bucks” that can convert into money.
“We take their academics, their home life and their community engagement and we put it on a track for them where they get points,” Booker said. “They get points when they are doing well in school, doing well at home and also doing well in the community, and they’re active.”
Javonnah Carrington, 14, joined WSJ over a year and a half ago when she was in seventh grade.
“I’ve seen myself change,” Carrington said. “Because being around different people teaches you how to communicate with different people, I have gotten better communication skills and I’ve seen myself change by wanting to help people, donating stuff and going to clean roads.”
Carrington’s communication skills have improved so much since her time in WSJ that she is writing a self-reflective book about her life experiences to help other people in similar situations.
Nine-year-old Jacrek China, a student at Glenn Elementary School, is starting a lawn care business and said he is thankful that WSJ gave him the opportunity.
“It’s very cool, awesome and amazing because some people don’t have that choice to do that type of stuff,” China said.
A’mia Woods has owned her slime business, Mama Mia Fun Factory, for almost a year. In addition to helping her launch her business, Woods said WSJ has given her another family.
Booker said her greatest joy is her students and seeing their promising futures.
“We may not see them reach this generational wealth today or tomorrow, but they know that it’s coming,” Booker said. “And to feel that joy and to understand that they know that they’re entrepreneurs in the making, that they’re business people in the making, that they’re going to change and shape our future means more to me than the moment today.”
If students want to become a part of WSJ, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.