Atlanta was once again at the epicenter for entrepreneurship as the 2016 Hope Global Forums was held in the bustling city. The event brought together civic, business and political leaders from around the world to discuss the systemic poverty that affects the globe. Hope Global Forums 2016 took a deep look at poverty in America and the critical task of increasing financial literacy and building credit scores by finding a viable road out of poverty.
Business leader and Gallup CEO Jim Clifton led off a powerful discussion by stating, “We must identify those young Black males to invest in. It does not take a million or a billion dollars; there are young Black males who want to succeed and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Perhaps it only takes $80K and their business plan is viable. Why can’t we find the investors to create entrepreneurship and make these plans a reality for the community?” Gallup data showed that students surveyed in grades 5-12 do have an economic vision and entrepreneurial spirit. In the lower grades there are more children who dream of owning their own business or inventing something that will change the world. But as grade levels increase, students are less likely to maintain the same level of entrepreneurship as a loss of hope begins to emerge.
But this can be reversed according to Intuit CEO Brad Smith, who stated that “Igniting hope in young people is a way to start economic growth.” Smith’s company Intuit produces financial and tax preparation software and related services for small businesses, accountants and individuals. The popular tax preparation program TurboTax is one such product. This year, Inuit has made its product free for millions to file their federal taxes online as part of the Free File Alliance. The Free File Alliance is a program with other major financial software companies to allow tax payers an easier and more effective way to e-file in 2016. On the average, if a person is making less than $62K a year they would be able to take advantage of the program.
According to forum organizer John Hope Bryant, for 70 percent of Americans their tax refund check will be the biggest paycheck they will have received all year. But many do not realize that if they have earned less than $50K in a year they are basically owed a check from the government and can amend past returns. Especially critical is the number of people who do not take advantage of the earned income tax credit. Bryant went on to explain the important difference of being broke and being poor. He stated, “Being broke is a temporary economic condition. Being poor is a disabling frame of mind and depression of spirit.”