Financial Literacy Month

This month we are focusing on Financial Literacy at UNL. UNL provides financial literacy training to our students through online courses, partner school engagement, and Spark Center events across the country. Our Director of Financial Literacy, Jessica Washington, is rewriting the narrative and working to eliminate generational poverty. Our programs introduce students to budgeting fundamentals, early investment strategies, building credit worthiness, and creating a habit of savings.

Through partnerships such as with the SunTrust Foundation, Usher’s New Look has been able to provide financial literacy empowerment to more than 5000 students nationwide. We have been able to build out an incredible program that goes beyond the classroom and gives our students real-life exposure to consumer banking, credit protection, entrepreneurial opportunities, investment strategies, and post-secondary education options. We are delivering the tools that are necessary for our students to take responsibility for their financial futures. Thank you SunTrust Foundation!

1. “Do not save what is left after spending; instead spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffet


3. BUDGET – Use percentages (%) rather than dollar ($) amount. Budget every dollar earned

4. INCREASE – Monetize your talents. Create opportunities.

5. INSURE – Protect Investments. Maintain Standard of Living.

6. INVEST – Invest in yourself. Max 401k, IRA, Mutual Funds. Own Shares before pairs.

7. MONITOR – Check accuracy often. Use credit wisely. Maintain 700+.

8. PRACTICE BUDGETING – It’s never too early to practice budgeting for life. If you are comfortable budgeting $50 now, you will be more successful budgeting your $50,000 salary as an adult.

9. KNOW YOUR SPENDING HABITS -Track your spending for 30 days to see where your money is going. Then cut spending on anything that doesn’t promote your financial goals.

10. CREATE S.M.A.R.T. FINANCIAL GOALS – Start small with short term goals (30-60 days). Strategic | Measurable | Achievable | Realistic | Timely

11. PRACTICE HEALTH CREDIT WORTHY HABITS – Do as you say. Don’t borrow money that you cannot repay. Practice saving for goals rather than borrowing money from others.

12. GET TO KNOW YOUR BANK – Get to know your bank and learn about saving strategies they offer: CDs, etc.

13. AUTOMATE YOUR SAVINGS – Automate your savings every month. Set up automatic transfers on your pay dates. Enroll in your bank’s round-up program so that every time you swipe your debit card, a portion is sent to your savings account.


15. PRACTICE DISCIPLINE WITH YOUR FINANCES -Before you spend your hard earned $$$, ask yourself, “Will this purchase help me meet my goals?” If the answer is “no”, put down the item and walk away.

16. TRACK YOUR SPENDING – For the next 30 days, write down every single purchase you make. At the end of the 30 days, identify items that are necessary and those that can be cut or cut down on.

17. START TODAY – Identify one step you can take toward strengthening your financial future. Start saving. Start paying debts. Start budgeting. Start keeping track of your spending.

18. INVEST IN YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE -What is it going to take to get the next level? The best investment is in YOURSELF. Get educated, search for better employment, seek opportunities to grow and get ready for the next level of YOU.


20. OWN YOUR FUTURE – Regardless of your current economic status, you can own your future. Make the right decisions. Strengthen your credit. Eliminate all debts. Start Saving. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals. Learn about personal finance. It’s your money. OWN IT!

On the Town with NYC

Usher’s New Look New York has been on tons of adventures the past month, even traveling to DC. Through our programs, youth get opportunities for practical, cultural and historical experiences. Here are just a few events they have enjoyed over the past month.


“Follow the Money Tour”

Our 10th and 11th grade youth went Washington, DC for our “Follow the Money Tour”.  We visited the Bureau for Printing and Engraving to learn how money is made and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to learn how to protect our money.  We also took in some of the sights of Washington, DC including, the African American Museum, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial.  AND, we took a tour of Howard University’s campus!

Then, we heard from the Furlough Sisters – Nikki Howard and Jaqi Wright – two African American sisters who used their sparks to create a business during the government shut down (both of them work for government agencies).  Their “Furlough Cheesecake” is more successful than they could have imagined and they’ve been interviewed on ABC and CNN to name a few.  They also got a boost to their business financing from Ellen DeGeneres who surprised them on her talk show.  They shared their story with us and spoke about using your spark and creating opportunity to follow your passion and create a business.  They also talked about overcoming adversity by having a plan, executing on that plan and the importance of dreaming big!  Click on the link below to check out pictures from our trip.

HIGHLIGHTS: Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, Bureau for Printing and Engraving, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, African American Museum, Howard University Tour, Lincoln Memorial, Dinner with the Furlough Sisters – creators of the Furlough Cheesecake


Career Spark Day at WeWork Montague

On February 13th we hosted our Career Spark Day at WeWork Montague where executives and entrepreneurs shared their experience, their unique journeys, the importance of nurturing relationships, self-care and overcoming obstacles and finding the path that’s right for you.

GUEST SPEAKERS: Jemaine Buchannan, Project Manager and Founder, Everyday People; Taren Guy, Lucid Living on YouTube; Michael McConnell, Founder, Mastermind Connect; Syreta Oglesby, SJO PR & Consultancy; Kristen Rich,Manager, Sports Brand Partnerships, FOX Sports; Qimmah Saafir, Hannah Magazine; Janelle  Stiell, Marketing Solutions Strategist and Consultant, Nickelodeon


King Kong on Broadway!

UNL students, friends and family were given the opportunity to experience Broadway, free of charge. Exposure to the visual arts is fundamental to the development of individual potential, social responsibility, and cultural awareness. Opportunities like these contribute to the intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, social, and physical development of UNL youth.


Upcoming Events

3/8 STEM Nights: Women in STEM Nights at the Hall of Science

3/9 Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit

3/14 & 3/21 – Leadership Academy at Bedford Academy High School

3/28 Brooklyn Museum Trip: In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll be going to the Brooklyn Museum to check out their current exhibit of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo along with other artists of color.

Follow the Money Tour

Usher’s New Look (UNL) hosted its inaugural “Follow the Money Tour” in Washington, DC, during the February 18th-21st mid-winter recess school break.  The tour, made possible by a grant from SunTrust Foundation, is part of UNL’s Financial Literacy training infused into the organization’s Powered By Service (8th grade), Leadership Academy (grades 9-12) and Moguls-In-Training (college/postsecondary) programs.  The 25 10th- and 11th-grade Leadership Academy youth from the Atlanta and New York chapters of the organization learned about financial principles by visiting a variety of stops.  The Office of Financial Education at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau presented a workshop on budgeting and credit fundamentals. The students had the opportunity to tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and learn some of the history of our currency.  Students visited the original location and indulged their taste buds at one of the historic DC family-owned restaurants, Ben’s Chili Bowl. They learned the story of the family’s journey from starting a small business to earning national recognition. They discussed the impact a business, no matter the size, can have in building a strong community.  Students also participated in a Networking Social where they heard from community leaders and entrepreneurs, Nikki Howard and Jaqi Wright, also known as The Furlough Cheesecake Sisters. The “Sisters” shared their story of how they used their sparks (talents) to launch a business during the recent government shutdown. The students were able to take advantage of the proximity to another historic landmark, taking a tour of Howard University and learning about financial aid processes and student life on campus.


“With only 16 percent of Americans ages 18-26 being optimistic about their financial future, it is important that the youth we serve in Usher’s New Look begin to develop financial well-being habits early.  This trip presented a tremendous opportunity for them to understand the impact of financial decisions in various aspects of their lives. We are confident that the SunTrust Foundation investment in our youth will transform their futures as they prepare to become leaders of the next generation,” said Careshia Moore, CEO, Usher’s New Look.


Youth also had an opportunity to take in the sights including a visit to the National Museum for African American History and Culture, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.


“This trip gave me a lot of financial wisdom that enabled me to be aware of credit cards, budgeting, and knowing how to spend money for the right situations,” said Neil, an 11th-grade Leadership Academy youth.  “This trip also gave me the opportunity to be more of an explorer. It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. It also gave me the wonderful opportunity to try new food and meet new people.”


Through a grant from the SunTrust Foundation, UNL has been able to add the financial literacy component to other programs offered. The new curriculum focuses on helping students identify core life values, gain practical experience in making wise financial decisions, and real-life application to improve their quality of life. The “Follow the Money Tour” is the first of two financial-focused trips this year.  The next will be in New York and will focus on investing.


“My mission for this trip was to give the students another perspective on how money works, to go beyond the classroom and see how money is used in our government, in the lives of entrepreneurs and the world around us. It is my hope that as a result of this experience, these students will apply the wealth building principles they were exposed to and take full responsibility of their financial futures,” shared Jessica Washington, director of financial literacy who spearheads the program.


On February 13, UNL NYC got a tour of the WeWork Montague Street space and heard from panelists – Janelle Stiell with Nickelodeon, Jermaine Buchannan with Everyday People, Kristen Rich with Fox Sports, Michael McConnell with Mastermind Connect, Syreta Oglesby with SJO PR & Consultancy, and Qimmah Saafir with Hannah Magazine.

We had a great group of professionals who shared their journey with us for Career Day. They talked about how they created their lives based on their individual talents and passions including what they currently do, what they needed to do in order to get there (character qualities, educational requirements, assistance/relationships, challenges) and advice for someone looking to walk a similar path. Thank you to our panelist for sharing their paths to success.

2019 MLK Day of Service

We had a total of 15 participants who helped serve at Brook Run Park, in Dunwoody, GA. We broke up into 3 groups to plant trees for the Trees Atlanta Organization. Kamera and I were able to capture some of the best moments of the service project (SEE PHOTOS BELOW).

The students fought through the cold weather and enjoyed collaborating on the service project. After the service project, we ate lunch at the office and played some games before we left for the movie.

We saw Canal Street and the movie was fitting for MLK Day. The students were receptive to the movie as it was relevant to their day-to-day lives as high school students. One of the main messages throughout the film dealt with confronting the racial stereotypes in America that we all struggle with to this day. 

Overall, I believe it was an exceptional MLK Day of Service for UNL Atlanta and I am glad to have been a  part of it.

– Avery Floyd, Atlanta Program Coordinator

Powered by Service

Powered By Service is a UNL program where businesses and UNL staff go into a school and conduct training sessions for middle or high school students. The program uses peer-to-peer interactions and highlights the benefits of servant leadership combined with enhancing talent, exploring career paths and nurturing education by focusing on one area of expertise per session. We work in conjunction with sponsor businesses to bring these beneficial programs into the school setting.

UNL just started up our 2019 PBS season and we have two participants who wanted to share their experience.

PBS Review by Jamila Jeffers

Powered By Service (PBS) season has officially begun!  My name is Jamila Jeffers, Sophomore, International Business Major at Howard University from Brooklyn, NY.  We kicked off PBS season with training over 300 freshmen at Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, Georgia and it was ultimately a great experience. I was granted the opportunity to train these students just one week before I began my second semester of Sophomore Year and it has been the kick-start, I need to fuel me into finishing strong.

During this week of training, I was challenged with working and bonding with individuals from different backgrounds and with different learning styles. Through this experience, I was able to use my leadership skills to teach three consecutive classes, while maintaining the energy and flow of each class.  It was a difficult and challenging week but, in the end, it was a rewarding experience.

Along with fun, interactive learning activities we immersed students in practical sessions on leadership, personal brand development and the most popular Financial Literacy. Students were able to learn about credit, balancing a budget, networking with a purpose and proper money management. Overall, what mattered most to me was that I was sowing a seed into every student.  Affirming that they are important, along with their interests and the things they enjoy doing most.

PBS Review by Harley Vinsonhaler

From January 8-11, 2019, Usher’s New Look partook in a fun-filled week at Pebblebrook Highschool in Atlanta, GA. The UNL Moguls in Training program had multiple leaders from across the United States come teach lessons to the freshman class on basic life skills such as networking, personal branding, leadership, and budgeting.

Throughout the week of Powered by Service (PBS), students were not only able to play games, express themselves and their talents to their fellow peers, but they were also able to explore their future careers, what their “spark” and or passion is, and had the opportunity to work with members from Suntrust Bank. This gave the students a chance to be engaged and hands on with their peers and leaders to solve problems for the assigned activities. In result, students received a certificate of completion to show that they had completed the week of PBS.

Usher’s New Look: Sparking Success for a New Generation

Check out this great article from Stepping Blocks

UNL Spark Center, Muungano collaborate with TED-Ed Club

Throughout the spring, @UshersNewLook Spark Center and Muungano collaborated with TED-Ed Club. The TED-Ed Program works with youth to help them “Identify Their Passion, Choose Their Idea and Start Talking” to change the world. The participants utilize the Russell Stokes Family Foundation Spark Tank to ideate and brainstorm their ideas and gather for a healthy snack and to have conversations about their ideas in the Chick-fil-A Café. They are wrapping up the spring session this weekend by focusing on “Our Moment – Our Passions.” Check out these videos to see what @UshersNewLook Spark Center has been up to. #Disruptivator @TED_Ed

Exhibit Gray and UNL take on Atlanta

On Saturday, May 12, 2018, Exhibit Gray took on Atlanta with riveting conversation, stunning art and phenomenal music while raising money for Usher’s New Look Foundation. The Exhibit Gray event provided a platform for presentation and proper discussion of society’s “gray” areas and how to navigate the “mind of a winner.”

The conversation piece was a star-studded panel including Enitan Bereola (3x Best-Selling Author), Steve Canal (Best-Selling Author and Brand Specialist), Swin Cash (Olymipc Gold Medalist and WNBA Champion), and other surprise guests. International painter and Forbes 30 Under 30, Skyler Grey exhibited his incredible artwork while Bryan-Michael Cox’s tracks brought the house down.

Usher’s New Look Foundation is grateful for all who participated in this incredible event. Our programs would not be possible without the generous support of our donors and volunteers.

Black History Month: 2/26-28

From @UshersNewLook for #BlackHistoryMonth  “When I was younger there was something in me. I had passion. I may not have known what I was going to do with that passion, but there was something-and I still feel it. It’s this little engine that roars inside of me and I just want to keep going and going.” – Sheila Johnson

SHELIA CRUMP JOHNSON is an American businesswoman, co-founder of BET, CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, and the first African-American woman to attain a net worth of at least one billion dollars. @UshersNewLook we know that passion exists inside everyone and we help nurture that spark to a life of success.


Earlier this month, KENNETH CHENAULT retired after almost 2 decades as CEO of American Express. He was the third African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 company in America. @UshersNewLook we help kids find their path and succeed in life and career. See what Mr. Chenault has planned next at:


#BlackHistoryMonth is not just about people who made history long ago – it’s also about people who are making history now – through their accomplishments and by inspiring others.  Today we hear from Tamiea Anderson, a Mogul in Training @UshersNewLook. She is inspired by @BEYONCE. #Disruptivator

“Beyoncé is influential to me because she has allowed her craft and artistry to stand for something far beyond herself. Known for her incredible work ethic, she has become one of the biggest stars on the planet. She has built a brand that has empowered women to be strong and fearless, by leading by example. Knowles manages herself under her own company allowing herself to have full and complete control over her artistic vision and portrayal, which has been known to promote ideals of feminism and social equality. She has her own organization, Bey Good, that has down notable work in underdeveloped countries. She invests in art that is an accurate representation of our culture far beyond what the media may portray. And lastly, she has an ever growing family. Beyoncé shows that you can be a woman, a black woman at that, with the world bowing at your feet because of your intellect, drive, and talent, without conforming your values.”


February is almost over, and while our official celebration of black history month may be coming to an end, we continue to honor all those who have made history and are still making history today.  Our work here @UshersNewLook is to help youth that do not have the support and services in place to succeed over-come the odds and excel.  We are grooming the leaders of the future – the next generation of history makers.  Thank you for following along with us this month. #BlackHistoryMonth #Disruptivator