Power couple Ciara and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks put their money where their mouth is after making a more than $35,000 donation and surprise virtual visit Tuesday to Denny International Middle School.
The school’s nearly 900 West Seattle students— where more than half of the students identify as either Black or Latino— were surprised when the couple gifted them each with a savings account program with $40 in seed money available, The Seattle Times reported. The couple provided them with noteworthy financial literacy and a lesson on how to save and invest their money.
The quarterback and singer said learning about their own personal finances was important as they each built their careers.
“Financial literacy and building wealth is so important,” Wilson said. “Ciara and I really wanted to talk to you all because we didn’t come from much and we had big visions, we had big goals, big dreams.”
Students of the public school tuned into the lesson from home while the others viewed from their classrooms.
The generous act was made possible through an arrangement with a Financial Literacy Month partnership with the couple’s Why Not You Foundation, the NFL Players Association and Goalsetter, a New York-based financial tech company.
A lesson titled “Building Wealth – A Blueprint to Financial Freedom Inspired by Hip Hop” kicked off the lesson with Goalsetter CEO Tanya Van Court. The students got to hear a brief overview of how successful music mogul Jay-Z invested his earnings early, ultimately becoming a billionaire and “the first hip-hop artist to do so,” according to Forbes.
The couple popped in with their big announcement soon after, then played a game of financial trivia where Wilson quizzed the middle schoolers on influential billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
But, the Wilson's were sure to drop their own jewels of advice, too. The students were encouraged by the couple to invest in themselves, their communities, the causes they believe in and to ultimately “make sure you know what you're doing.” Wilson said he wished he invested early in Facebook when he was young.
“All these things can pay back tremendously if you invest in them the right way,” Ciara said. “Investing is very powerful and it will also allow you to create an opportunity to build legacy for your family.”
Until the students are 18 they can’t touch the money, incentivizing them to begin the practice of saving through the Goalsetter program app. According to The Seattle Times, the app will provide them up to five years of financial literacy tools and will be equipped with games to quiz them on their knowledge through an attached debit card the students will eventually receive.
Tanya Van Court, a Black woman, said data on the growing national racial wealth gap confirms that Black and Latino people are on a trajectory to earn zero net worth within the next 30 to 50 years. She said she doesn’t want to see it happen to the students.
“It really should be a crime that kids are coming out of high school and can describe the periodic table but can’t describe the stock market,” Van Court said. “We have a capitalistic society that depends upon the understanding of the infrastructure of capitalism in order to build wealth, yet all we teach them is to go out and get a job.”
At the middle school, Jeff Clark, the principal, said students are already learning to invest their money in their financial education program and that the Goalsetter program will be another “super exciting enhancement.”