Gail Perry Mason, an African-American, started Money Matters for Youth, a youth camp, out of sheer necessity. The program teaches kids how to set up their own businesses and make a budget. The seed capital is only $50.
Camp for all
Mason, in 1996, read a Wall Street Journal article which informed its readers about a venture known as “Rich Kids Camp”. Any participant must shell out $10,000 to be eligible to enter this gathering. The problem for her was that she could not afford it. Not only her, none of her friends could invest in that kind of money. In fact, most African-Americans, due to their low economic status, could not attend them at all.
Mason did the logical next step: she began her own camp. She named it Money Matters for Youth. That was in 1996, and she spent all her summers from then on teaching children how to establish their own businesses, make a budget. The informal syllabus includes getting a mortgage and car insurance. Students are also taught the finer things of life, like meditation, fencing sport and even basic cooking. The children could learn all that for only $50.
There are 26 children in all, comprising of high school, middle school and elementary school students. They learn proper table manners, the art of professional and personal interaction like shaking hands and how to look at people in their eyes. To her, the children are like Kodak film, they need proper exposure and development. The good news is they can practice their craft when they meet Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway when they attend the shareholders' meeting of the company.
Buffett is a legend. He was only 11 years old when he purchased his first stock and now is the second richest individual in the United States. He has promised to donate 99 percent of his total fortune, presently worth approximately $74.5 billion.
According to Mason, she and Buffett met when Ndamukong Suh, her friend and also a former player of the Detroit Lions, invited her to a football game. She ended up sharing space with Warren Buffett and some sports personalities. Nobody was talking to the billionaire investor, so she ended up talking to him. They started to talk about what they both love-finance-and when Buffett heard that she taught about 6,000 children on the importance of financial empowerment, he asked her to come with her older students to the shareholders meeting.