He teaches inner-city kids how to be smart about money
Douglas Coe has founded the Bulls and Bears summer camp, where kids can try being a stock analyst – and learn how to handle their own finances too.
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"Owing someone else is worse than being broke!" he warns.Skip to next paragraph
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His goal is not to steer the children to careers in financial services – though he says he would love to see more minorities and women in that field – but to inspire them to begin saving early and not to be intimidated by financial matters.
"I think the camp is doing a tremendous amount of good," says Michael Braude, the retired president of the Kansas City Board of Trade, who gives talks at the camps. "A lot of what we say goes over their heads, but some of it sticks. And what sticks gives the kids something to build on."
Sierra Williamson, a 10th-grader, has attended the camp twice. Because of what she learned, she is more conscious of not spending money frivolously and saving for the future, she says. "I want to be a stock broker and be able to handle money. Even though I don't have any bonds or anything like that now, I like saving my money."
Coe grew up in a predominantly African-American Kansas City neighborhood in a middle-class family that valued education. His father has a doctorate in education. His mother, an attorney, is active in local politics and served on the city council. His grandfather was an economist in the Lyndon Johnson administration.
"Education and giving back were always stressed in our family," Coe says. "Be a person who not only climbs up, but who reaches back and lifts others up."
After graduating from Atlanta's Morehouse College in 1991 with a journalism degree, Coe worked as an investment consultant for Kemper Securities. In 1995, he started Moody Reid Financial Advisors, an investment firm.
While Coe was at Kemper, he was invited to talk to a group of at-risk children about basic financial matters. He realized the need for financial education, especially among children in the inner city. These children, as well as children from all backgrounds, are at risk if they are sent out into the world without the basic tools they need to manage their finances, he concluded.
Coe receives requests to conduct his camp in other communities around the country. He has held it several times in New York City and plans to present it next summer in Baltimore and Atlanta. His ultimate goal is to make it a national program.
With the economy so uncertain, Coe feels that more than ever children need to grasp the fundamentals of financial literacy. "We know how difficult it is out in the world," he says. "We love our children so much, we know we have to do a better job of preparing them for the new norm."