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Free program teaches youth how to gain Dollars and Sense

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When Nate Turnipseed’s mother first enrolled him in 100 Black Men of Indianapolis’ Dollars and Sense program, he initially wasn’t happy to spend his Saturdays learning about investing in the stock market. Then he developed a passion for it. 

During his second year in the program, Turnipseed won second place in the local chapter’s stock portfolio pitch competition despite his partner dropping out at the last minute. 

“I was really nervous,” Turnipseed said. “I was kind of sick at the same time. I remember my nostrils were flaring up. … Apparently, I did really good.”

Getting ahead in 2019 requires financial wisdom, so local chapters of 100 Black Men, including the Indianapolis chapter, offer Dollars and Sense: a free 16-week financial literacy program. The program transforms how youth such as Turnipseed view money.

“We’ve seen students work on Wall Street as a result of the program,” Andre Givens, chairman of Dollars and Sense at 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, said. “… That’s a huge moment. When I see the outcome of the hard work, that pays dividends.”

The lesson plans are a combination of coursework from the University of Indianapolis and lessons created by 100 Black Men. Volunteer instructors lecture, mentor and assign projects. There is also a pre- and post-test to measure participants’ progress. Givens said the average score of the first test is 34% and the second test’s average score is 79%.

The program also changes students’ philosophies about money. Givens said when most students begin the program they only see money as a way to buy material items like clothes. Through learning about investing and portfolio building, students learn they can do more than spend money at a store. They can save and invest for the future.

“That’s the attitude we have to break before we can dive into the core of the program because as long as our students have this false perception of wealth, our community will still be in disparity,” Givens said.

Givens said the program teaches personal finance lessons such as saving and budgeting and places a large emphasis on investing in the stock market. Students get to experiment with an app called Student Stock Trader where they invest a fictional $100,000 in a stock market simulation that follows the same changes as the actual stock market. Seeing what causes their virtual stocks to rise and fall is a good way for students to learn both the do’s and don’ts of the stock market and how quickly investments can change.

“Last year when the market took that 800-point drop, next Saturday the class was chaotic,” Givens said. “Students were like, ‘What’s going on? I lost half my portfolio.’ That gave us a critical moment to explain what happened in the market.”

At the end of the program students compete in groups of two to pitch potential investment portfolios. They win scholarship money based on how they rank. Students who perform well, such as Turnipseed, compete at the national level. Last year, the Indianapolis group Turnipseed competed in took first place.

“It really felt good because lots of hard work came to fruition, and it shows you can do anything as long as you stick to your task and keep working hard,” Turnipseed said. 

The next Dollars and Sense course will begin Oct. 26. While Turnipseed will not attend because he’s now a freshman at Ivy Tech Community College, he’s excited a new group of students will learn financial literacy.

“I really wish they teach stuff like that at school because I feel like you are actually going to use that later in your life,” Turnipseed said. “… It gives you discipline, and if you know how money works and how to use your money properly you’ll definitely gain more wealth.” 

Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.




Next month, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis will host the next Dollars and Sense course.

When: Oct. 26-March 7

Where: University of Indianapolis, 1400 E. Hanna Ave.

Registration: Apply at 100blackmenindy.org by 11:59 p.m. Oct. 20.  

Support the program

Dollars and Sense is free because of donations to 100 Black Men of Indianapolis. For more information on how to support the program, email financialliteracy@100blackmenindy.org.


100 Black Men of Indianapolis Inc. celebrates a new victory following their Dollars and Sense Financial Literacy program team’s first place win at the 100 Black Men of America’s National Dollars and Sense Financial Literacy competition. Participants London Okowa, TJ Daniels and alternate Nate Turnipseed, all from Central Indiana high schools, presented a mock financial investment plan in front of a slate of judges comprised of leaders from banking and financial institutions. The team, operating as Indy Financial Advisors, emerged victorious against teams from other 100 Black Men of America affiliated chapters across the United States in a tense battle of wits and ROI (return on investment), winning by a close 3-point margin. 

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