Welcome to my dfree® blog. I hope these thoughts will help someone think new thoughts and take new actions toward their financial freedom. The proverb says that "the borrower is slave to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7) I have dedicated the rest of my life to helping people obtain spiritual and economic freedom.

For the Love of Black Financial Freedom: It’s Time to Invest in Yourself

By Tamika Stembridge

Executive Director, dfree® Global Foundation, Inc.


Happy Black History Month! Be sure to follow @mydfree and I (@TheFreeBlackGirl) for 28 days of Free Black Brilliance where we’ll be highlighting incredible men, women, and young people from around the African diaspora who exhibit brilliance, excellence, and beyond for our people!


As we’re in the midst of a very revolutionary period for Black America, I want to challenge you as you start or continue along your Journey to Financial Freedom™…to do it “FOR THE LOVE!” dfree® is on the battleground for our financial evolvement as a people, knowing that our social justice is impossible without economic empowerment!


So often, we are encouraged to pursue financial wellness for our own well-being, but that is only the beginning. Yes, I want to be financially “secure” for my own good, because I’m no good to anyone or anything if I’m no good to myself. However, I get tremendous joy when I think about what I can do for the people and causes that I love once my house is in order.


I recently met with my Financial Advisor. During our meeting, I confessed that:


1) I needed to (re)jumpstart my retirement savings due to several career changes with a few financial flat-lines;


2) My vision for retirement is “simple,” for the most part, but my definition of simple tends to involve elements of grand flair;


3) I now have a child and own a home;


4) I love my alma maters (#PlainfieldHigh, #Spelman, and #Rutgers), my church (#FBCLG), my hometown, and helping ambitious young people; and,


5) My biggest concern was being able to leave my family in better financial position when I die.


Now, as morbid as that last confession may seem, I was overjoyed when we were able to identify a few product combinations that would allow me to address all of my personal goals and concerns for less than the cost of my monthly Target / TJ Maxx runs.


For the first time in a long time, I felt relieved to sign my name, jot down my bank information, and spend (well, invest) money on what I LOVE without the guilt of potential morning-after regret.


(My fellow shoppers understand exactly what I mean. Cue the inner “Lord, why did I do that?!? I am so out of control. Did I really need that?!? I must do better!”)


I made a financial decision and took a few simple steps FOR THE LOVE of myself, my future, my family, and my beloved community. And guess what?!? It felt sooooo good!


So, as embark on this new month, I challenge you to think about what you can do FOR THE LOVE. It may not be an insurance policy, but maybe you can increase your 401K contributions, add a little extra to your savings account, or open an account for your kids.


It may be investing in yourself by taking the all-new dfree® Academy 12-step financial lifestyle course to equip yourself with the tools you need to achieve financial freedom! Our dfree® curriculum, now offered completely online and accessible from virtually anywhere, offers users strategy, tools and resources for managing debt and credit, building an emergency fund, leaving a legacy, building wealth through investments, and more!


Join us in this new blended learning environment to get your financial lives in order. Think about it and learn more at mydfree.org

How we can foster financial inclusion for Black Americans

From Dr. King’s time to today, collaborations are key to driving equality forward.

By Lata Reddy, senior vice president, Inclusive Solutions at Prudential

February 24, 2021

The past year has seen a resurgence in Black Americans’ fight for equal treatment under the law and equitable investment in their communities, with nationwide protests sparking comparisons to the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a little more than 50 years ago. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the systemic racism that still pervades society and erased much of the financial gains Black Americans have made in recent years, with nearly one quarter seeing their household income reduced by half or more, according to Prudential’s Financial Wellness Census.

One of Prudential’s partners in addressing the key issue of financial inclusion for Black Americans is Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, a pastor, chairman and founder of the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement. I spoke with Dr. Soaries about Dr. King’s legacy, his focus on driving broad economic prosperity and the opportunity for institutions and organizations to collaborate in pursuit of that shared goal.

I was very young when Dr. King was assassinated, but his legacy was a key reason I decided to pursue a career as a civil rights attorney and I ended up going to law school with Bernice King, Dr. King’s youngest daughter. What are your memories from that time?

I will never forget what happened on April 4, 1968. I was a junior in high school in Montclair, New Jersey, and I went to my grandmother’s house to steal a piece of pie. I was thwarted in my attempt by seeing her sitting at her dining room table with tears in her eyes. I had never seen my grandmother cry before. She said, “They shot Dr. King today.” I didn’t really know much about Dr. King. But on that day, when I saw that my beloved grandmother’s life affected so significantly by the life of one man, I decided that I wanted my life to be as impactful as Dr. King’s was on my grandmother.


What type of leaders do we need today?

When Dr. King led, there was a need for articulate, dynamic and charismatic leadership to represent the masses. The challenges we face now are much more widely distributed. We’re no longer necessarily looking for charismatic leaders who can speak to a crowd of 250,000 people. Leadership today is more by sector than global. Today, we have a different kind of dynamic, and so we need a multiplicity of leaders, whether it’s in the arts or the sciences, academia or financial services.


How are you seeing people collaborate, and how important is that in getting the work done? 

We see strong collaboration among Black Americans within specific industries, and we see the emergence of sectors where networking, mentoring, advising and watching each other’s backs is becoming the norm. Now, I think we need to collaborate across sectors.

If you look at Dr. King’s model, he formed collaborations. There would have been no March on Washington had the church leaders not collaborated with the labor leaders. That model is what King called “The Beloved Community,” and there is no reason for corporate leaders to exempt themselves from The Beloved Community.


There’s a lot being said about the expectation for corporations to play a leadership role in addressing societal issues, to demonstrate a sense of purpose through their business strategy. What are your thoughts on that?

We cannot overestimate the impact of having a viable corporate community. The free enterprise system in corporate America is critical to the kind of quality of life that all of us want and we need to appreciate that.


You run a program called dfree® and Prudential is a partner. Let’s talk a bit about that program and our partnership, and why partnerships like ours are so important.

Experts say Black Americans are the most optimistic people in the country. But, beneath that veneer of optimism, there’s a tactical pessimism that has become too normal for people, where we just don’t see our way out.

I realized that a problem I kept bumping into in my work with my congregation and community was financial incapacity, where middle income families were living paycheck to paycheck. The families had great jobs, and were executives, but had no savings accounts. After doing some research into the issue, we found that having no financial plan or budget at all was an almost self-inflicted barrier to financial freedom.  Remarkably, the work we had begun doing matched and aligned with the results of the study that Prudential had done on the African American financial experience.

In response, in 2005, my team and I launched dfree®, a Financial Freedom movement composed of a curriculum designed to help individuals become debt-free, avoid financial pitfalls, and create savings and investment plans to ensure better financial futures, including funding their retirement dreams.

The partnership between Prudential and dfree® is a paradigm of possibility for companies that really want to connect with the community in a way that’s meaningful, respectful and mutually beneficial.


Prudential, as you know, was founded here in NewarkFollowing the 1967 civil unrest, we decided to take an affirmative role in the revitalization of the city. We started seeding what we thought would be fruitful investments. We can look around now and tell the through-line of how those investments have paid off for the city and its residents.

Prudential invests in relationships and partnerships that demonstrate what justice really looks like. We need more templates like that, which can be replicated.


We know that the more corporations embed this kind of behavior into their business model, the better off we’ll all be. When directed in the right way, we can make a huge impact at a scale that is sustainable for generations to come.

So where are we going? What would you like to see? What would you like to see us do together that we haven’t done yet?


From my vantage point, I believe strongly in the power of capital markets to make a change. And the power of business. At Prudential, it’s about returning to our original charter, which was to drive progress, not just generate profits. We use our capital to help create the change we seek, especially as we continue to advance the work on Prudential’s nine racial equity commitments.

Access to capital is critical to the health of any community. I make no bones about sharing the value of a partner like Prudential as it relates to creating not only sustainable lifestyles, but also a legacy once we’re gone. The whole strategy of partnering with existing companies and helping them expand outward is empowering, and it’s progressive.


Dr. Soaries will join Prudential for Legacy Lives On: Removing Barriers to Wealth Building, a one-hour virtual event on Feb. 24: Learn more.

Black Financial Freedom Organization Launces Online Courses to Expand Reach

This article originally appeared on NewYorkTrendNYC.com

Recently, dfree, a financial freedom organization designed specifically for the African-American community, launched its all-new online financial lifestyle education platform.


With a friendly-user experience and a plethora of helpful features, the organization has launched its online dfree Academy with new, fresh content and courses that are now mobile-friendly and can be taken from virtually anywhere. Traditionally offered in person, the self-paced “dfree Lifestyle: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom” course can be taken by individuals or collectively by groups such as organizations, churches, families and/or book clubs.


“Our all-new dfree Academy gives the dfree lifestyle a new meaning. Our executive director Tamika Stembridge and I will virtually walk users completely through the dfree curriculum and it is all for free,” said dfree founder Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. who used his own experiences with financial struggles to create the dfree brand, curriculum, and lifestyle course. “We want 2021 to be the year our people truly achieve financial freedom, and it’s now at our fingertips.”

Founded in 2005, dfree emphasizes controlling money matters via lifestyle adjustments so that individuals have the freedom to focus on more purposeful pursuits. Used by more than 4,000 churches and 150,000 individuals around the nation, dfree focuses on the cultural, spiritual and psychological spending influences uniquely faced by the African-American community and provides concrete strategy and curriculum on how to combat those challenges.


“Through our new dfree Academy, we’ve expanded to intentionally deliver even greater life transformation to a significantly greater number of global participants that we are now able to reach through this digital platform,” said Tamika Stembridge, Esq., dfree executive director. “The dfree 12-step curriculum is now available in a blended learning environment to virtually anyone, anywhere!”


To commemorate its launch, dfree will reward one lucky graduate with a dfree Debt Pay Down Scholarship to further assist users on their journey to financial freedom. Additionally, users can look forward to a free interactive workbook with course registration, live webinars, a community of supportive peers, exclusive content and resources, plus other special rewards and incentives from dfree.

The dfree Academy is offered free. For more information and to register, visit mydfree.org.


As the only faith-based, wealth-building system specifically designed with the Black community in mind, dfree offers access to financial freedom through a variety of tools to educate, motivate, and support people looking to achieve and sustain financial freedom.

Dr. DeForest Soaries Fosters Financial Freedom During the Holiday Season Through dfree®

The CEO Creates an “In the Black Campaign” To Help Combat Widespread Indebtedness and Promote Financial Success

This article originally appeared on EsquireMag.com

Dr. DeForest Soaries is committed to helping others achieve wellness and success through his very own financial freedom initiative. The founder of dfree® has created an economic and cultural movement in savings, insurance, and investments to transform lifestyles and communities throughout the world. Dedicating his life to this mission, Soaries recently launched an “In the Black Campaign” to guide people through the financial difficulties that accompany the holiday season.

Dr. Soaries, a renowned reverend and the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, has been a pioneer in furthering the success of his community through countless humanitarian efforts. He founded the Central Jersey Community Development Corporation in 1992, a nonprofit for revitalizing disadvantaged neighborhoods, and the Harvest of Hope Family Services Network in 1996, which offers opportunities for children in foster care. Soaries broke further boundaries as the first African-American Secretary of State for New Jersey and an active member in pushing the “Help American Vote Act” of 2002.

Dr. Soaries took his leadership and ambitions to new heights in 2005 when he launched the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement, the only faith-based organization focused specifically on uplifting the Black community. Utilizing a variety of tools, including a 12-step academy training program, dfree® prioritizes helping participants gain autonomy over their finances, reduce overspending, and leave assets for future generations.

“dfree® is a brand, a curriculum, and a movement aimed at closing the wealth gap between Black people and the general population,” explains Soaries. “People have sought and received help with our debt management, foreclosure prevention, and credit building resources.” Through these goals of achieving financial success, Dr. Soaries has fostered a community of like-minded individuals who support each other and gain higher self-esteem, greater discipline, and sense of purpose throughout their transformations.

In light of the difficult COVID-19 times, dfree® has launched its holiday campaign, “In The Black,” to help reduce indebtedness prompted by major consumer events like Black Friday. “We decided to launch our dfree® ‘In the Black’ Holiday Campaign to stress the idea that being “in the black” means having fewer liabilities (debt) than assets (savings, etc.),” said Soaries. “Instead of celebrating Black Friday, we urged Black people to get In the Black by Black Friday.” The company joined forces with Greenpath, MoneyLion, and Billion Dollar Paydown to spur debt relief, credit building, and meeting savings goals.

dfree® also sponsored a “Debt-A-Thon” on November 21st, a virtual event featuring testimonials, endorsements, celebrities, and celebrations to motivate audiences to seek debt relief. Following this and their “In The Black” Friday initiative, dfree® is planning an “I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas” program to encourage saving and investing for the rest of the year and beyond.

Although Dr. Soaries’ years as a pastor are winding down, he continues to dedicate his time to put his vision of widespread financial freedom into action. “We are fighting for our future―the future of our families, the future of our communities, the future of our people,” declares the CEO. “dfree® is a volunteer activity that I will pursue until I die.”

For more information about Dr. Soaries and dfree®’s future initiatives, please visit mydfree.org

Nonprofit works to help the Black community build long-lasting financial health

This article originally appeared here.


By age 32, Tamika Stembridge had conquered most of her career goals.

She had earned a law degree and an MBA, handled production and sourcing at a fashion house, worked in supply chain and human resources for a major corporation, and started an entertainment law practice. But she had higher ambitions.

When chatting about career ambitions with a woman she once mentored, Tamika shared her secret desire: “to be the president of Black people.” This wouldn’t be an elected position. It was simply someone who could improve the lives of individuals and groups in her racial demographic. In this ideal role, Tamika said she would use her education and experience to “help people better navigate the world knowing what I know about the systems, but at the same time, help to change the systems that exist.”

She would “represent, advocate for, and advance critical efforts for Black people” while paying heed to the unique struggles, history, and culture, she says.

One month after that conversation, Tamika got a chance to test her vision. She was offered an opportunity to work with dfree® Global Foundation, a nonprofit that fosters financial empowerment in the Black community.

Today, as executive director, Tamika fights for the economic prosperity of a population that has historically experienced higher unemployment rates, lower incomes, and less savings than their white counterparts.

“We have to understand the generational disadvantages that make the achievement of wealth more difficult for African Americans,” Tamika says.

“We have to acknowledge the historic and systemic barriers that arose with slavery and mutated into webs of discriminatory practices that we experience even today,” she says. “But at the same time, because nobody’s coming to save us, clearly, we have to take some level of personal accountability and responsibility to do things better.”

The organization uses a 12-step training program based on the premise of “no debt, no deficits, no delinquencies.” It helps participants eradicate negative actions and thinking patterns and instead take proactive steps to build wealth. Created by Rev. Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries in 2005, the faith-based program uses biblical principles to share lessons in areas such as budgeting, savings, investing, and giving.

Dr. Soaries’ premise is “debt is a form of slavery,” says Tamika, who as a child would sit in the church pew with her grandmother as he preached. He initially launched dfree® to help his Baptist church and parishioners in Somerset, N.J., free themselves from debt. In addition to focusing on the personal finance tools typically offered by banks and other institutions, he tapped into the emotional, cultural, and behavioral aspects of money management. Dr. Soaries encourages participants to examine the psychological reasons behind their spending and stresses the importance of creating a healthy mindset to break the habit of instant gratification.

The program, taught through both readings and classes, is distributed by churches, community groups, service organizations, and employers. More than 4,000 organizations have been trained in the dfree® method. In addition, dfree® shares course lectures digitally via the dfree® Online Academy.

Priscilla Rose discovered dfree® through her church in Vallejo, Calif. She has curtailed spending, increased her savings by $1,300, paid off $1,500 on her credit cards, and addressed other debt.

In 2012, dfree® launched its Billion Dollar Challenge to reduce $1 billion in Black consumer debt to achieve financial freedom. It provides tools and tips and aggregates the progress of users. To date, more than 10,000 participants have collectively paid off nearly $26 million in debt.

Tanetha Johnson joined the Billion Dollar Challenge in May 2019. Sixteen months later, she had paid down about $20,000 of her $25,000 credit card debt.

Now that she’s eliminated a big chunk of debt, she has a new goal: saving money to buy a beach house.

The challenge and dfree® program “gave me a different vision of what I can accomplish if I set my mind to it,” she says.

For participants of dfree®, doing things better not only means getting individual finances in order. It also means giving to others, helping the community, and supporting equality for all. The lessons taught by dfree® apply to anyone, but its focus is the Black community.

“We can’t undo what’s been done to us historically, but there are systems that have to change,” Tamika says. “We encourage people to vote. We encourage you, when you become more financially able, to give to causes and organizations that advocate on your behalf.”

The organization began with in-person meetings and has expanded to include a broad digital network comprised of a blog, e-newsletter, e-magazine, a podcast, and webinars. Once the coronavirus crisis took root in the United States, dfree® leaned on those channels heavily to keep its participants engaged and informed. In April, dfree® launched webinars on topics such as managing a budget, and managing stress, during COVID-19. More than 3,000 people registered for the first set of webinars, Tamika says. Since then, hundreds of people have continued to tune in each week.

The organization also worked with the #GiveTogetherNow campaign to disburse $500 cash payments to individual households hit hardest financially by the pandemic. The #GiveTogetherNow effort was spearheaded by Stand Together, which supports dfree® with funding and business management coaching, and the Family Independence Initiative.

For this campaign, dfree® identified 70 recipients in its network, and that process was incredibly eye-opening, Tamika says. The majority of dfree®’s community is in the middle-income bracket, so she was surprised to find so many struggling families. It made her realize that education and an individual’s best efforts sometimes aren’t enough to overcome hardship.

“Even with the best financial information, the best intentions, and the understanding of where your heart needs to be to manage your money well, there are some instances where knowing is not enough and there is a true financial need,” she says.

The spread of COVID-19 and the new focus on racial inequality in America have made Tamika even more aware of the need to foster change.

“We’re at a point in time where everything dfree® stands for is coming to a head,” she says. “We have racial and social injustice happening. We have the financial implications of COVID-19. When you talk about being built and prepared for a time, I think dfree® really stands at the crossroads of both of those things.”

In turn, dfree® will continue to double down on its efforts. “Our work is so essential to what it’s going to take to rebuild the country.”

The group hosted an all-digital conference in July titled “From Crisis to Clarity,” where leaders in the Black community discussed potential strategies and solutions for dealing with the spate of recent challenges. The organization will keep the advice coming. It’s “In the Black” webinar series will focus the rest of the year on helping its community navigate “what we’ve come to accept as our new normal,” Tamika says.

“As a community, we can’t fund change if we don’t have our personal financial houses in order,” Tamika says. “It’s why we work so hard to help individuals, families, and organizations to achieve financial stability — the well-being of our overall communities depends on it.”


dfree®’s Billion Dollar Challenge Helps Users Pay Off More Than $25 Million of Debt

Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., former New Jersey Secretary of State and founder of the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement, announced that its Billion Dollar Challenge money management tool has aided more than 10,000 African Americans pay off $25,663,715 of consumer debt. The Billion Dollar Challenge is the lead marketing initiative of the dfree® Movement to help people pay off consumer debt in an effort to transfer those payments to build insurance, investments and savings. The organization plans to hit the $27 million debt pay down mark by the end of 2020.“We are on a critical mission. It doesn’t make any sense to talk about closing the racial wealth gap or building wealth without focusing on the need to reduce consumer debt,” said Soaries, who has written books and given speeches about how he overcame his own struggles with paycheck-to-paycheck living. “Getting out of debt is the first step to achieving financial freedom. If we shift $1 billion of debt payments to savings, investments and insurance, we can create over $10 billion in wealth.”

At this point in history, it’s never been more crucial for Black Americans to have a strategy to progress as a people. To have true social justice and equality, healthy economics must precede. The Billion Dollar Challenge at its core basic level is an online tool that is used to help people manage their debts, make plans to pay them off using online calculators and planning tools as well as build our savings to establish a more positive financial position.

“The last few months have made it abundantly clear that we must control our own narrative,” said Soaries, who has worked on civil rights issues for the Urban League as a community organizer and Operation PUSH as the national coordinator. “Until we control what’s ours – our communities, our politics, our economics – we’ll never be truly free. dfree® is armed to combat social reform on behalf of Black people because real social justice is impossible without economic empowerment!”

A perfect way to introduce an economic conversation with its group functionalities, the dfree® Billion Dollar Challenge is used by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., National Baptist Convention of America, Prudential’s Black Leadership Forum, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers and other national organizations.  Recognized as a national initiative, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated have paid down more than $6 million of consumer debt.

“The work that we do and the partnership we have with dfree® is vital because we provide it to our communities and also adopt it ourselves,” said Carmen McClendon, Chair of Economic Development Subcommittee of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. “This is something we’re doing! We have nearly 200 chapters involved and have paid off more than $6 million in debt collectively.”

The free, confidential, easy-to-use tool helps users determine the date they will be out of debt, or they determine the date and the tool calculates payments to meet that goal. The Billion Dollar Challenge also works for savings the same way. On the site, users are able to create profiles and begin their debt/savings plan. From day one, users can begin tracking and monitoring their progress. As an incentive, dfree® has a rewards program that allows users the opportunity to get paid for paying down debt.

Featured by CNN’s Almighty Debt: A Black in America Special and iHeartMedia’s The Breakfast Club, dfree® has trained churches, community organizations, corporations and individuals to lead financially richer lives. dfree® is the premier financial freedom movement designed specifically for African Americans that focuses on cultural, spiritual and psychological spending influences. Through training, content, curriculum, tools and resources, dfree® offers solid strategy on how to become debt free and provides the blueprint to build legacy and secure a positive financial future. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the dfree® movement has grown globally and is used by more than 4,000 churches and organizations, and 200,000 individuals.

Learn more and sign up for the Billion Dollar Challenge here.


Black Financial Freedom Movement Hosts Nearly 2,000 Attendees with Virtual

Backdate: July 30th, 2020

From Crisis to Clarity: Last week former New Jersey Secretary of State, Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., and the dfree® Financial Freedom hosted nearly 2,000 attendees for its first ever virtual conference to offer clarity to the multiple crises Black America has experienced over the last few months. Between COVID-19 and racial injustices, it has become evident that African Americans need real strategy and solutions to move forward as a culture, starting with financial progression.

The day kicked off with Dr. Soaries appearing on iHeartMedia’s The Breakfast Club to talk about the overall strategy and goals of dfree® and how we cannot carry on as a culture, “being woke and broke.” Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, dfree® is the premier financial freedom movement designed specifically for African Americans that focuses on cultural, spiritual and psychological spending influences.

“Despite the fact that many are trying to pull us back, we still have opportunities and the dfree® Movement is about exposing, promoting and celebrating those opportunities,” stated Dr. Soaries in his opening address. He is the Founder and CEO of the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement.

Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.

With more than 32,000 event engagement activity of the virtual conference space in one day, attendees heard from speakers such as nationally-syndicated media personality Angela Yee, media mogul Tarik Brooks of Combs Enterprises-Revolt TV, Shane’ Harris, VP Social Responsibility & Partnerships and President of the Prudential Foundation, as well as Michellene Davis Esq., EVP & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of RWJBarnabas Health on the collective progression of Black America.

We can’t ‘entrepreneur’ our way out of poverty,” stated Brooks, who is second-in-command to Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. “We need to make sure we’re thinking about how impactful we can be with our votes and our dollar!”

Tarik Brooks, Chief Operating Officer

Combs Enterprises

Angela Yee stated: “If there’s anything we can take from this time, let’s figure out how we can make demands for ourselves in the future!”

Nationally-Syndicated Media Personality Angela Yee

Dr. Soaries on iHeartMedia’s The Breakfast Club

Systemic issues require systemic solutions,” said Shane’ Harris, VP Social Responsibility & Partnerships and President of the Prudential Foundation who spoke on the company’s stance on the state of Black America. Prudential Financial was the Title Sponsor of the event.

Shane’ Harris

VP Social Responsibility & Partnerships and President of the Prudential Foundation

“Everything we’re going through takes a toll on us but I am not tired yet,” stated EVP & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of RWJBarnabas Health Michellene Davis Esq. “However, I am concerned for individuals who don’t feel empowered enough to be able to stand in a room of injustice.” RWJBarnabas Health was the Platinum Sponsor of the event.

Michellene Davis, Esq.

EVP & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of RWJBarnabas Health

Attendees also got the opportunity to hear from representatives from all Divine 9 Greek organizations. The major takeaway was unification of the organizations to make bigger strides in our communities as it relates to financial wellness and progression for the culture as a whole.

Other features of the virtual conference included a testimonial panel of community leaders who have led the dfree® strategy within their respective areas, a pastors’ panel to discuss the role of the church as it relates to civil rights issues, virtual networking amongst attendees, and an expo room of dfree® partners including Prudential Financial, RWJBarnabas Health, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, and more!

“Thank you for hosting and bringing this conference to us. Though delivered online it was delivered seamlessly. Lots of great content and looking forward to being part of this discussion.” – Conference Attendee

“This is a powerful and dynamic conference. Thank you Pastor Soaries, Prudential, guest speakers and everyone who made this possible. To God Be the Glory!” – Conference Attendee

Through training, content, curriculum, tools and resources, dfree® offers solid strategy on how to become debt free and provides the blueprint to build legacy and secure a positive financial future. Attendees left the dfree® From Crisis to Clarity Virtual Conference with solid steps on how to either start or continue their journeys to financial freedom. On August 19-21, 2020, the organization will host free training for community groups and churches interested in launching dfree®.

dfree® also offers its free Billion Dollar Challenge as a tangible first step in getting finances under control. The Billion Dollar Challenge is a fun, easy-to-use, confidential money management tool. Through this tool alone, dfree® has aided more than 10,000 individuals in paying down more than $25 million of consumer debt with the goal being to transfer those funds to build savings, investments and insurance to truly obtain generational wealth and close the racial wealth gap.

Another solid tool for attendees to continue their strides toward financial wellness is the dfree® Academy, a free online version of the dfree® curriculum. To date, more than 7,000 people have taken the dfree® Academy which has resulted in true life transformation.

To learn more about the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement and its strategies, please visit mydfree.org.



Media Personality Angela Yee and Media Mogul Tarik Brooks Added to dfree® Conference Lineup of Featured Speakers

Media Contact:Jasmine Walden

For Immediate Release



The Revolution will be Televised: Pioneer of Black Economic Empowerment Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. to be Joined by Media Mogul Tarik Brooks, Media Personality Angela Yee, Shane’ Harris of Prudential Financial and Michellene Davis, Esq. of RWJ Barnabas Health for Virtual Event to Bring Forth Strategy and Solutions for Financial Progression of African Americans, July 24-25


Sponsored by Prudential Financial and RWJ Barnabas Health, Free Virtual Event Promises to Give Black Community Blueprint for Social Justice and Economic Empowerment for Long-term Success


SOMERSET, NJ – July 20, 2020 – Black America has again reached the height of social injustice and police brutality in the constant battle for racial equality. When the protests and social chatter subsides, the Black community will need real strategy and solutions to collectively move forward and progress as a people. And so, former New Jersey Secretary of State and community development leader, Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. and the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement present the free, dfree®: From Crisis to Clarity Virtual Conference, July 24-25, to bring forth concrete strategy and solutions for the evolution of African Americans. Joined by nationally-syndicated media personality Angela Yee of The Breakfast Club and entertainment executive and second in command to Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Tarik Brooks, COO of the billion-dollar Combs Enterprises, the event will tackle the role of Black media as it relates to social justice and economic empowerment.

Soaries promises that attendees will leave this live virtual experience with solid steps for collective mobilization and individual action items to begin or continue their journeys toward financial freedom. Also joining the conversations will be Shane’ Harris, VP Social Responsibility & Partnerships and President of the Prudential Foundation, as well as Michellene Davis Esq., EVP & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of RWJ Barnabas Health to discuss the stances their respective corporations have on the state of Black America. Both Prudential Financial and RWJ Barnabas Health serve as sponsors of the virtual event.

“Black America is experiencing a catharsis moment and we’ve got to move!” said Soaries, CEO and Founder of dfree®, who has worked on civil rights issues for the Urban League as a community organizer and Operation PUSH as the national coordinator. “These two national crises – COVID-19 and the continuation of racial injustices – that we’ve experienced over the last few months have made it abundantly clear that we must control our own narrative. Until we control what’s ours – our communities, our politics, our economics – we’ll never be truly free. dfree® is armed to combat social reform on behalf of Black people because real social justice is impossible without economic empowerment!”

The dfree® From Crisis to Clarity Virtual Conference will include power-packed panels and discussions featuring change agents in the Black community, solid steps for attendees to begin their journeys toward financial freedom including access to the free dfree® classes and curriculum, resources and tools to help attendees achieve their financial goals and more. The event will feature special guests from different sectors of the Black community including leadership from national fraternities and sororities, major corporations, pastors and clergy, as well as dfree® Members who have adopted dfree® principles into their lifestyles and have had major success.

Highlights include:

  • An intimate fireside chat with Angela Yee of iHeartMedia’s The Breakfast Club on Black women in business and entrepreneurship and how she’s been able to maximize financial opportunities and obtain multiple streams of income.
  • A conversation with Combs Enterprises’ Chief Operating Officer Tarik Brooks on the role of Black media as it relates to social justice and economic empowerment.
  • A roundtable discussion with representation from the Divine 9 Greek Organizations on the roles of their organizations in helping the community navigate this era of change.
  • Insight from Prudential’s Shane’ Harris, VP Social Responsibility & Partnerships, President, Prudential Foundation, on their stance for progression for the Black Community.
  • A look at how Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health is on the frontline of both national crises featuring Michellene Davis, Esq., EVP & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer
  • And more!

Attendees will also be able to chat live with the dfree® Team on activating curriculum and principles into their personalize lives, community groups and churches. dfree® Partners from across financial and lifestyle industries will be on hand in the virtual exhibition hall with tools and services to help attendees achieve their personal goals.

“We’ve been led to believe that knowing more makes us do better. But when it comes to finances, having a plan and sticking to it is what makes us do better. Knowledge is power, but knowledge without strategy is just acquired information,” continued Soaries. “We are on a critical mission to annihilate the wealth gap statistics that have been placed on us as a race. And, that’s just what we’re going to do.”

dfree® is the premier financial freedom movement designed specifically for African Americans that focuses on cultural, spiritual and psychological spending influences. Through training, content, curriculum, tools and resources, dfree® offers solid strategy on how to become debt free and provides the blueprint to build legacy and secure a positive financial future. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the dfree® movement has grown globally and is used by more than 4,000 churches and organizations, and 200,000 individuals. The organization’s strategies are effective and proven. More than 6,000 people have taken the free online dfree® course which has resulted in true life transformation. Through the dfree® Billion Dollar Challenge alone, the organization has guided more than 10,000 African Americans to rid themselves of nearly $25 million of consumer debt.

Admission to the dfree® From Crisis to Clarity Virtual Conference is free. For more information to reserve tickets, please visit mydfree.org.

About the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement:

As the only faith-based, wealth-building system specifically designed with the black community in mind, dfree® delivers access to financial freedom. dfree® uses a variety of tools to educate, motivate and support people who make the choice to achieve and sustain financial freedom. Featured in CNN’s Almighty Debt: A Black in America Special, dfree® began as a faith-based initiative to help stem an epidemic of overspending, particularly in the African-American community. dfree® has grown into a movement that gives participants the: ability to handle their own financial responsibilities; willingness to help others do the same; and, capacity to leave assets for future generations.

In the tradition of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., dfree® also is a movement to help achieve economic justice in America. Rev. Dr. King once said, “We must never let it be said that we spend more for the evanescent and ephemeral than for the eternal values of freedom and justice.” dfree® emphasizes controlling money matters so that individuals have the freedom to focus on more purposeful pursuits.

About DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. is known as an active agent for change and is a widely requested speaker. He is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, former chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and former New Jersey Secretary of State. His pastoral ministry focuses on spiritual growth, educational excellence, economic empowerment and faith-based community development. Soaries is the founder and CEO of the dfree® Global Foundation and author of several books including “Say Yes When Life Says No.” Soaries currently serves as an independent director at three companies: Independence Realty Trust, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and Ocwen Financial Corporation.