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Uptown Self-Made Millionaire Launches Financial Literacy Program For Kids, With Graduates Getting $500 A Year Until They’re 18

Jeff Badu became a millionaire by 26. Now, he's hoping to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Most days Badu works from his home office in Uptown.
Jonathan Ballew/Block Club Chicago
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UPTOWN — Jeff Badu went from a disadvantaged youth in Uptown to a self-made millionaire by his mid-20s.

Now, the businessman is launching a financial literacy program for kids, and will give graduates seed funding for their futures.

The 28-year-old launched the Badu Foundation last year. This summer, the organization is rolling out its financial literacy program for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. The program will accept 30 students aged 6-18 this year and enroll them in a four-week summertime course where they’ll learn the basics of budgeting, investing and how to apply for college scholarships.

Those who graduate from the program will receive $500 a year from the foundation until they turn 18. The money is to be used for college tuition or a business venture, Badu said.

“It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, help promote financial literacy in kids and helping spread economic prosperity for our communities,” Badu said.

The program will start in June. To find out more and how to apply, click here.

Badu said he will kick in $20,000 of his own money for the program. He is looking to raise $100,000 overall, and has launched a GoFundMe for the effort.

Born in a tiny village in Ghana, Badu came to Uptown when he was 8 years old. He said he was exposed to gangs and crime, and was perilously close to taking that path in life.

Instead, Badu focused on school, earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the University of Illinois and started Badu Enterprises, which includes Badu Tax Services and real estate investment companies. By the time he was 26, Badu had amassed a net worth of $1 million.

His success came despite have no financial literacy training until he enrolled in the graduate school of business at U of I, Badu said. That’s why he wants his program to focus on disadvantaged kids, because they are often not taught financial literacy, he said.

“These communities are under-served,” Badu said. “We want to use our resources to provide this education, because they don’t get it anywhere else.”

After growing out his business enterprise, Badu started his own foundation as a way to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs from backgrounds similar to his own. This program is just a start, he said.

“We want kids to get educated about financial literacy so they can have a more abundant future,” he said.

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