It’s always exciting and an honor to hear from leaders that use their voice to encourage and implement programming for those that have not been educated on topics that should be introduced to everyone, such as financial wellness and credit education.
Teddy McDaniel III, President and CEO of the Urban League of Central Carolinas, Inc. exudes purpose and passion by being a change agent that inspires the community and those under his leadership to meet individuals where they are on their financial journey.
I spoke with Mr. McDaniel on his thoughts around the importance of credit readiness and the collective responsibilities of our community.
TFB: With credit scores being such a vital part of our overall financial health, what are some things that we can do to promote credit readiness within our community?
One of the things that would be beneficial is to expand partnerships. Another area that comes to mind is imbedding the importance of credit readiness in our schools. I am a big proponent of young people, especially high school students starting early and often. Learning about financial wherewithal and credit readiness is a part of that. I’ve noticed that we start too late when it comes to educating our community on what financial wellness is.
Community organizations and churches are entities in neighborhoods that are considered pillars where people naturally go for help. Additionally, the Urban League is focused on social and economic equality for African Americans and all underserved people; therefore, we have to consistently introduce those that trust us to topics such as financial education.
TFB: There are many individuals who are not familiar with the benefits of having a healthy credit score and how this can impact them as individuals or their family. What advice would you have for them?
For individuals and families, I would encourage them to begin educating themselves. Many people have had a lack of access and exposure, especially African-American families. Because of decades of redlining and other structural barriers, money and finance are not things that are discussed at the dinner table, which is a huge part of our current issues.
We must do a better job as a community and as an organization to educate individuals before they begin earning money so that they understand how to manage what they already have. It’s also important that we meet others where they are on their financial journey. Defining what money actually means should be the first step and then additional topics such as credit should also be introduced along the way. This is why events such as Score a Better Future are so important and valuable, when we consider that many people are simply not aware of what credit means and how it can benefit them.
TFB: FICO is committed to Score a Better Future and providing Americans with the tools they need to enhance their understanding or to get a fresh start on their quest towards financial wellness. What do you hope that attendees took away from the SABF event that was held in Charlotte?
My hope is that the attendees learned more about what credit is and specifically what a FICO®Score is and is not. I also hope that attendees took away some lessons and tools to better prepare themselves for obtaining credit, how to use it, and how to improve it. Lastly, it’s important that attendees are now aware that they can monitor credit themselves to become self-sufficient and aware of where to go for help if they encounter bumps along the way.
What is one thing that you would like our community to be reminded of when it comes to overall financial wellness and credit?
There is a racial wealth gap that needs to be narrowed and eliminated. We have statistics that show us that the wealth gap is widening even though we have a 3.9% unemployment rate. It’s important that we pay attention to the data and work together to build out strategies and actions to help eliminate this.
For more than 25 years, FICO®Scores have been the industry standard in helping millions of people buy homes and cares, rent an apartment, get a credit card and receive better interest rates. With over 90% of lending institutions using FICO Scores, myFICO.com is your one-stop credit education solution for answering questions and understanding your FICO Scores and credit reports.
I am an official ambassador for FICO. While I receive compensation for my participation as a brand ambassador, opinions are mine.