Today we’d like to introduce you to Genein Letford.
Genein, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I remember being on the floor with a credit card bill in one hand and a $60,000 student loan bill in the other hand. This is 2009. I was a UCLA graduate and working but still not where I thought I should be. I had a net worth of -$50,000 and wondered what happened. That’s when I realized the importance of being financially literate. It was then I dived into financial literacy with a vengeance. I read everything. I saw my siblings and peers struggling. This was an epidemic.
It was then I looked at my young students I teach. I didn’t want them to end up where I was – all because of ignorance. That is why I started Alumni360 – a mentorship program that focuses on financial literacy, life skills and telling your story of purpose.
You see, I stutter. I went through years of speech therapy at school. I didn’t realize that I could have used my story to win thousands of dollars worth of scholarships. I didn’t realize that I should be proud of my journey with my stutter, not try and hide it.
Since then, I have done a TEDx talk on the importance of financial and creative literacy. I have helped students win scholarships and even launched a program within Alumni360 to help students become, not only first gen college students but first gen investors as well.
I serve on the Donorschoose.org board of Directors, along with Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn and Stephen Colbert. This has been a great opportunity to advocate for education on the national level. My heart is with the students—my students. I am a teacher. I am a speaker. I am an advocate that all students deserve the chance to live their best life.
As the 2015 Charter School Teacher of the Year, Genein Letford is a driving force in student equity access, arts education and financial literacy. A recent TEDx speaker, she believes every child deserves the opportunity to develop their talents and contribute positively to the community. After paying almost $100,000 of debt, she realized the importance of early financial literacy, opportunity recognition and telling your story of purpose. She speaks around the nation on these topics and remains committed to preparing the next generation for a life of success.
In addition to directing Alumni360 and teaching music full time, she is also a part-time professor at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), a board member of the national non-profit Donorschoose.org and a financial literacy coach at her local church. She is currently working on her first book on equity access and hopes that it will inspire many to live their best lives.
Has it been a smooth road?
As I mentioned before, I stutter and thought my ideas weren’t good because I couldn’t communicate with them well. I went to Toastmasters and learned skills to help my speaking abilities. It’s been a journey but a journey that ended me up on the TEDx stage in April of 2017 advocating for my students.
Getting out of debt was difficult but now I coach and teach hundreds of people to get a hold of their finances. It’s a beautiful thing to see their mentality change about their financial situation. I know it is changing their family tree!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Alumni360 – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My organization is Alumni360 and we specialize in mentorship for youth who are from low-wealth areas. I’m proud that we connect these amazing students with amazing professionals, lessons and opportunities. Some of our speakers have been: President of Lakeshore Learning, the CFO of Milani Cosmetics, the founder of OPI nail polish, among many others.
We meet once a month and our meetings have speakers, financial literacy game days and our EntreArts Camp that combines creativity development with entrepreneurship skills.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
The city of angels – where dreams can come true. I was born in Culver city so I am an LA girl at heart. I moved to Pittsburgh for a year and needed to come back. I love the variety of landscape – from mountains to beaches we have it all. I love the possibility of knowing that anything could happen. I love LA!
Least? The traffic!!!
- Website: www.alumni360.org
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/GOalumni360
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/alumni_360