Life-Long Activist of Improving the Black Community Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries and dfree® Kick off National Billion Dollar Challenge Tour with 2020 Vision
The global grassroots organization featured in CNN’s Almighty Debt: A Black in America Special, dfree®, celebrates 15 years of its financial freedom revolution this year. As the only faith-based nonprofit tackling the crippling wealth gap, dfree® has trained churches, community organizations, corporations and individuals to lead financially richer lives. dfree®’s Founder and CEO, renowned community development leader, Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. has issued a challenge to black America to pay down $1 billion of consumer debt.
“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 also served as New Jersey’s first African American male Secretary of State. “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.”
To date, 10,000 individuals have accepted Soaries’ challenge and have paid down more than $23 million of consumer debt using the dfree® Billion Dollar Challenge tool. Since 2005, dfree® has touched more than 4,000 churches and 200,000 individuals around the world.
“We are on a critical mission to annihilate the wealth gap statistics that have been placed on us as a race,” said Soaries, who has written books and given speeches about how he overcame his own struggles with paycheck-to-paycheck living. “We’re flipping the script and changing the model of ministry in the black community. We are providing solutions beyond slogans!”
To commemorate the dfree® 15-year anniversary, the organization will conduct a national tour, which kicked off on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in New Jersey.
“The wealth gap is a major barrier that needs to be dismantled in this post-civil rights era,” said dfree® Executive Director Tamika Stembridge. “It’s the only way we’ll truly move forward and so dfree® is leading that charge!”
With stops in Tulsa, Flint, Atlanta, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Charlotte, New York City, and more, the goal of the Billion Dollar Challenge Tour is to garner more people to take the challenge to make financial wellness a priority on its 50-city tour.