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Money is a Game Changer for Students

By Dianne Anderson

Even if their $100,000 investments involve fake money, the boys of the 100 Black Men of Long Beach count their lessons in economic justice as a game-changer.

And, they’re not easily shortchanged.

Coming up July 12-16, the program’s literacy academy covers the Closing the Wealth Gap series, and some of the finer points of business, investments, stocks, IRA’s, and understanding what Black Wall Street means in practical terms today.

Throughout history, the stakes have been high.

The Long Beach chapter of the “The 100” started over a decade ago with mentors reaching the boys with lessons on health and wellness, academics, and their legal and civil rights.

This time around, it’s all about self-sufficiency. From December to May, Lance Robert Jr. participated in the group’s latest series, the Stock Market Game.

It has changed how he thinks about money.

Lance, 12, feels the experience was more than fun and games. He learned about stocks, and how to navigate the basics of investing. He said he even taught his cousin about the fundamentals of getting into the market with the game’s learning tools.

“I plan to invest in stock. It made me realize how valuable this information can actually be because investing in stock can make you money, and help to have a stable life. I will be using this information moving forward,” he said.

His father, Dr. Lance Robert, said the programs continues to work closely with UCLA, and also hosted great after-school programming on Zoom with Jordan High School, Washington and Hughes middle schools.

While none of their men are official experts in finance, the learning journey has been great for everyone. He said many of the teachers that participated said they also discovered more about investing in their IRAs.

“We’re just Black men with middle-class jobs, engineers, lawyers, insurance salesmen, real estate people and teachers just talking about money with the boys, about the stock market, credit, building retirement,” said Dr. Robert, president of the 100 BMLB.

The game comes by way of a Wells Fargo grant through their national 100 Black Men foundation.

The boys researched different stocks to buy and sell. They came up with their own ideas of what might keep making money based on COVID, like Zoom and DocuSign. Some got into Pepsi or Bitcoin.

“They were all into it,” he said. “The guys were telling their personal stories about money, that [they] have a mutual fund or I own real estate. Basically, it’s like uncles talking to the family, this is what men need to talk about besides the Clippers.”

Lionel Jenkins, the group’s economic chairman, often describes how he couldn’t afford to go to college in New Orleans, but “The 100” chapter stepped in when he needed it the most.

In high school, Jenkins had received several certificates and scholarships, but was turned down at the registration office for lack of a few thousand dollars.

It only made him more determined.

“I sat in my car going through all my high school certificates and scholarships and I saw a contact,” he said, adding that he called “the 100” from a payphone. They told him to go to the second floor of the Administration building and ask for the dean.

The dean just happened to be the CFO of the local 100 chapter.

“He walked me over to registration and tells the girl to let me in my classes, that the money would show up,” he said. “He shook my hand and said welcome to the university. I said to myself when I become of age, I want to help somebody like that who helped me.”

Jenkins, 42, is on a mission to give back. When he moved to Long Beach, he wanted to be that person of change, and his wife happened to spot a 100 BMLB chapter booth at an event. The program has been his home away from home ever since.

Jenkins, an engineer in the aerospace industry, holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, a bachelor’s degree in physics, and a master’s degree in systems engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

He loves his job, but says he pragmatically chose his career based on potential salary. After all, college bills were piling up, and good return on education could afford him a way to experience things that some people only read about.

“Truth be told, I chose this degree based on how much money I could make after graduating in four years,” he said. “If I like Africa, I want to be able to go to Africa, and understand its heart and its people.”

He said the 100 BMLB is a collective force for the kids, not just economic empowerment, but also in health and wellness, education and leadership.

“At a bare minimum, we provide the people of our community with resources they need to go in a direction that’s going to sustain and enhance them with better options,” he said.

To participate in the upcoming series, see

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