When former NFL football star Michael Vick first walked onto the campus of Virginia Tech as a freshman, he fell prey to vendors hawking low-limit credit cards. He signed up for one without understanding exactly how they worked, and ended up with an extremely low credit score as a result.
"I'd never been taught about financial literacy, and I didn't even know how to pay the card off," Vick says.
Vick's experience of not understanding how credit works or how to improve your credit score led him to accept a role as brand ambassador for Ypsilanti-based Bad Credit Is Childish
(BCIC), an extension of Ypsilanti credit repair business Time Travel Credit Repair
. BCIC is launching a financial literacy program for young people called Bad Credit Is Childish Academy.
Vick visited Ypsilanti Community High School and Cass Technical High School in Detroit on the morning of Dec. 2 to speak to high schoolers about the importance of financial literacy.
As adults, Ypsilanti residents and high school friends Willie Johnson and Lynwood Powell found themselves talking about their bad credit and what they could do to fix it. That led them to found Time Travel Credit Repair and BCIC – as well as the new BCIC Academy.
"We've been doing credit restoration for a while, but we wanted to do something strictly to help kids," Powell says. "We understand that kids don't have credit, so there's no repair needed, but we can teach them how to establish credit. Lots of kids don't know how things get onto a credit report. We want to help them avoid those [pitfalls] and help them not make the same mistakes we've made in the past."
Johnson says the academy starts with an emphasis on budgeting and teaches young people about accountability and responsibility. Young people attending the academy will receive a broad education on finance and money, including NFTs and cryptocurrency.
Johnson says most young people they talk to don't know what a credit score is, but once they find out, they want to learn more.
"They want to figure out how to achieve the things everybody wants to achieve, so we give them a game plan," Johnson says. "They need to understand what credit is first, then ways to manage it. From there, they can use it to get whatever they want, whether it's a house, a car, or starting a business."
Vick says he and other student athletes had no financial education. He believes as many as 70% of NFL players have bad credit because, while they have a lot of money, they don't know how to manage it.
Vick says he thinks financial literacy should be a mandatory high school course.
"It's as important as a foreign language or algebra. It's something we need to pass down to the next generations," Vick says.
More information about BCIC Academy can be found here
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at email@example.com.
Photos by Sarah Rigg.
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.