When 17-year-old Willowridge High School junior Sofia Molina decided to spend her Saturday in school making up for time lost with sick days, she received more than she bargained for by participating in an all-day financial literacy program organized by G&G Wealth Enterprises.
The fledgling entrepreneurial student, visual artist and rapper won a door prize allowing her to get a free set of business cards. She also received a free book and met Blake Simon, motivational speaker and author of “The Transition: High School to College,” and she gained insight on the importance of networking and accessing financial aid to pursue her dreams.
“I learned that financial aid is not that hard if you are talented and have a bright young mind, like me,” Molina said. “And I learned that business isn’t just a by yourself thing. It’s a team effort and every part of the team is very important. I noticed every person speaking on the different subjects was important. Now I’m an actor, produce music and do photography and whatever is needed for my visual arts business to be around. I want to grow and help others as well.”
Molina was among about 25 students and adults to attend Willowridge’s first Financial Literacy Workshop last Saturday. It was organized by 2005 graduate and business owner Brittney Golden and her business partner and fiancé, Kennon Gilliard. The workshop offered eight breakout sessions from local experts on budgeting and debt reduction, investing, revitalizing credit, real estate, financial planning and funding a business.
The day also featured a children’s corner with workshops and specific messages for middle school and high school students led by Simon, a Marshall High School graduate, business owner and author; the Fort Bend ISD 2018 Secondary Teacher of the Year Shaughn Thomas, who is also founder of the “Invest In Yourself” seminars; and a student-led panel discussion on careers.
“The principal was a client of mine and I was talking about business and presented to him an opportunity to educate the staff from feeder schools of Willowridge,” Golden said. “I gave him the workshop idea, my business partner put together an agenda and we got it going.”
Golden said she is excited that they have been asked to return to the school in October for an encore presentation. She is a Prairie View A&M graduate with a degree in business administration and management.
“This was important to be working in the schools,” Golden said. “Over the last five years, I saw the need and from my interest in financial planning and being a realtor, there is so much that people don’t know.”
She said schools are not teaching children how to handle money and establish good credit, and some parents also are overwhelmed.
Golden wanted to provide participants with peace of mind.
“A lot of people overcomplicate the process of purchasing a home, be it residential or investment,” she said. “We had a lot of excitement once they realized you don’t always have to have the best credit or a lot of money or any money for investment. Once they understand the process, there will be a lot more people being able to put themselves in a better place of having assets over liability and being able to have financial freedom and make better financial decisions.”
Principal Terrence Hayden was excited to let his high school host the event.
“Our kids have an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “We have kids who like to design T-shirts. We have several clubs here and we could have an in-house print workshop for our kids and school. It’s something our students are very excited about and I’m glad. “We want Willowridge to be the centerpiece of the community and to offer more programs as a way of giving back to the community and to ask for more parent participation. Financial literacy helps everyone in the community.”
Golden pulls from her life experiences and field work to assist a client base that has included teachers, police officers and small business owners. After college, she was hired as a financial planner.
“I loved numbers but decided that corporate America wasn’t for me,” she said.
While bartending, Golden met the co-owner of Appreciation Financial, Dominique Moore, who upon hearing her business background offered her a position as an insurance and financial specialist. Golden later created G&G Wealth Enterprises with current business partner Kennon Gilliard, a mortgage broker.
“So we provide every part of the pie,” Golden said. Now they have a Houston office with 30 agents.
She was excited to return to her high school and offer information.
“The more I’m able to educate families,” Golden said, “the more wealth and legacy we can have in our community.”