It should have been a time of inward thinking. The pandemic was waging war on everyday life; forcing so many to figure out what was next after closing a business, losing a job, and facing quarantines and curfews. Nearly everyone had to figure out what was next for themselves and their family in some way, shape or form. The Wares were not immune as their concert promotion company Urban AZ no longer had shows to bring to Phoenix’s music scene. That is when DJ Ware’s mind started thinking about what was next, but it was anything but inward.

DJ, the son of former NFL player Derek Ware, saw how well his dad was doing in the stock market, which can be intimidating endeavor. It’s your hard-earned money and a mistake or two, and it can be gone with the wrong stock on the wrong day.he elder Ware was making educated, successful decisions on what stocks to grab low, watch it grow, make money, and sell off. This process, which can be overwhelming and/or seen as only for the well-off or business-minded, and how to go about it was a regular discussion in the home. It led to DJ thinking about the Urban AZ connection to the minority youth community.

Urban AZ & Squirt Sodas First Youth Signed Up

“During the start of the pandemic, Pops was trading stocks, doing well, and I kind of realized everyone should be doing this,” DJ said. “So, we started talking about it, and how we can get more people involved.” It led to creation of the Urban Youth Financial Education Project (UYFEP) where DJ, 23, is the CEO and Derek, who played in the NFL for five years including two with the Arizona Cardinals, is an advisor.

The mission is a rather large endeavor, but one the Wares are committed to reach. They want to help close the wealth gap in the minority community by getting more than 10,000 youth signed up with long-term investment accounts along with helping in the classroom by bringing some financial education into public schools across the Valley.

The amount of youth signed up through mid-February 2021 was 83 youth minorities.  The UYEFP, which has a sponsor in Squirt Soda, backs the accepted applications with a monetary donation of $50 to $100 to start each individual out and they can earn additional monetary donations to the individual’s accounts by doing well in the classroom or accomplishing pre-set goals as ways to encourage future success.

Sama Nakiso is one of the youth minorities who have received help from the UYEFP. He signed up in May has seen a better return on his Roth IRA (from about the 10 percent annually to upper 40 percent regularly). As good as that is, it is not what has impressed him the most about the UYEFP team. “When you want to care of the world you have to take care of the community first,” Nakiso said. “And that’s exactly what they are doing. They are looking at one of the problems in their community and taking it on instead of talking about it. They are doing something really special. You don’t see a lot of people give back like they are doing.”

Sama Nakiso

The need for this type of help for the minority youth is undeniable when looking at the information provided by the company.

  • Black men and women on average from age 55-64 each only hold $30,000 in their savings compared to white men’s $100,000 and white women’s $60,000 [Source: jec.senate.gov]
  • Black children are three times as likely to live in poverty as White children. [Source: jec.senate.gov]
  • Less than half (42%) of Black families own their homes, compared to almost three-quarters (73%) of White families. [Source: jec.senate.gov]
  • The median wealth of Black families ($17,000)—is less than one-tenth that of White families ($171,000). [Source: jec.senate.gov]

There is a clear gap and one way to address it is with education. Some school districts have financial classes, but it falls under the elective portion of course selection and not many students are going to take a math elective. It brings in the third portion of the mission for the UYEFP as they plan to educate why helping their clients get started and will be available to check in for advice before action while trying to get the best out of their newly started stock portfolio. Clients won’t have an account opened for them and left to figure it out themselves.

The clients will have help making decisions and adding additional capital to the account as the portfolio continues to grow. “They will have access to advice, and we’ll check in to see how they are doing,” said DJ, a 2015 graduate of Chandler High. “We’ll be there for them throughout the process and make sure they are comfortable with the decision before making any financial moves.” Perspective clients can fill out the application located at the Urban AZ Foundation website

If selected the clients will learn that investing not only provides long-term financial security, but it can also provide a steady source of income. The earlier someone starts investing the longer the investment will have to grow and all capital gains in a Roth IRA is 100 percent tax-free if used for retirement, first time-home purchase or college tuition. And if they reach their goal, they will help more than 10,000 minority youths start an account, get a level of financial security while understanding how to do it. In order to make a movement as important as this happen UYFEP can use more sponsors like the one it already had on board Squirt Soda and/or direct donations.

In order to do so, there are three ways to help with such an undertaking. 

Donations are taken directly at UrbanAZFoundation.org/donate or 100 percent of the proceeds from purchases at the UrbanAZ.Shop. Merchandise Store will go toward the foundation. And lastly, there is a chance to take advantage of the stock success by becoming a Parteon for as low as $4.99 a month (Get info on what stocks UYFEP buys and sells) at Patreon.com/dwig. All the options will give UYFEP a chance to get closer to their mission of educating and helping the youth minority community on avenues to some financial success.

“We really want to help as many people as we can,” DJ said. “It’s a big number – 10,000 – but there is a gap there for the minorities. They don’t get introduced to investing and the stock markets very often. We want to be able to make difference for them and close that gap. “Right now, we just want to get the word out about our mission, get some investors to join us, pick up some donations and get the young kids invested and preparing for their future.”