Focus on Achievement-#8 IN A SERIES OF DISCUSSIONS-Entry for June 13, 2008

Achiever in Training

FOCUS on Achievement

Focus on Achievement-#8 in a Series of Discussions

By Joan E. Gosier, CEO of HBCU kidz, Inc.

 Definition of GAP [a problem caused by some disparity] Pronunciation: \gap\ Function: noun

Science +Math +Artifacts of Culture +Reading +Test Taking Tips (S.M.A.R.T)=Gap Closure

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” Mathew 5:5

Our 12-part series is intended to open up a dialogue using proven problem solving technique. Since November 2007, we have covered various topics each month that address academic achievement gaps that are significantly impacting our future leaders and achievers.   The next couple of months of our FOCUS ON ACHIEVEMENT series will explore some of the economic challenges that feed the gap between black and white students.  Our goal is always to encourage collective thought and effort to roll up our sleeve, work together, and use our creative genius to GET IT DONE.  I am reminded that Satchel Paige once wisely acknowledged, “None of us is as smart as all of us!”

Does it surprise U that there is such a wide gap in household incomes between black families and white families?

  • There is a $7,600.00 gap in average yearly earning between black males and white males
  • There is a $13,800.00 gap in average yearly earning between black females and white males 
  • There is a $19,683.00 gap in median income for households between black families and white families
  • Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census based on March Current Population Survey, 2000

    Source U.S. Census Bureau 2005 American Community Survey

    A lot can be done with $19,683 each year.  Yet it is not how much money you earn that measures wealth, but often prosperity can be determined by how much you keep, how well your returns perform on your investments and how well you and others enjoy all that you have produced with your earnings.  So our children should be a major component of our wealth.  Through each generational smart choice, the gap actually closes! 

    If one is not able to focus on the future, one can at least take baby steps today to improve household earnings.  Is there a potential to maximize income of all working adults through a new resume, a course certification or a commute?  Gas prices are high so it may seem futile to look for a commute, but what about the longer term impact of a more robust resume and work history?  Classes may seem expensive or time consuming, but maybe that instructor or a classmate has the key to open up doors of opportunity along with new knowledge gained from the classwork? 

    The important question is to explore at home what impact the financial circumstances of the family has on the child being able to enjoy learning.  This past fall I spoke to a kindergarten boy who told me that he would rather stay home with the other men in his family than to be in school.  I wondered but dared not ask, “Did those men work from home?”  What incentive does he have as a black male to engage in the learning process when he is being shown at home that it is better to sit around at home?  So I hope that I made a difference in helping him focus more on the things that he wanted out of life that the people at home don’t have.  I always try to explain to my munchkins at every opportunity that money does NOT grow on trees.  You get what you want through careful strategy.  “You stretch your resources to fit YOUR VISION!”  You work hard, and you must treat most of your purchases as investments.  “Don’t waste NOTHIN’!”  My mom shared these beliefs with me while growing up using my granddaddy’s teaching. 

    As a sharecropper my grandaddy did not have the opportunity to get much of an education.  I was told he barely finished the 5th grade due to family farming responsibilities.  He worked hard in the Virginia tobacco fields.  He was a strong provider for a wife and 9 children.  Yet he knew the importance of sacrificing THINGS for the investment in children.  He taught my mom “Spend your extra money on books and education.  People can steal THINGS you buy.  But once you get it in your head, nobody can take THAT away from you!”  My mom proudly graduated high school class valedictorian.  She always reminded our family don’t just buy THINGS invest in KNOWLEDGE. 

    It is naive to think that children do not want to keep up with their peers.  Periodically ask your child out of the blue how he or she feels about his or her lifestyle (clothes, car, food, entertainment).  When you can help them connect the dots between short term sacrifices and long term gain they will be given a wonderful opportunity to become leaders versus followers of superficial trends and unnecessary consumption.  Isn’t it usually true that birds of a feather tend to flock together?  If a group is more focused on THINGS vs. learning, do you really want your child to adapt those traits?  What has it done for others who do this? Regardless of what we earn, it is critical to review what we are spending vs. investing in our future.

    So what steps can you take to make the most out of your current situation?

    1) First, you can go to or and you can determine the median level of earning in your community.  You can see how other working adults incomes compares to your household’s skill level and education.

    2) With a little effort, one can compare the potential opportunities to earn more or gain through proper investment of time/talent/energy within 5-10 year timeframe.  Typically there are short term risks or upfront investments that will not materialize overnight.  But the payoffs are typically exponential!

    3) If you are totally satisfied and content in your career during this tight economy, why not reach out to other family members?  Why not call the parents in your immediate and extended family to see if there are any unmet career needs?   Your words of encouragement could help someone who is sitting on the fence and feeling helplessly trapped.  A second set of eyes checking out a resume can be a real benefit.

    4) Listen to see if there are career advice tips that can be provided to the parents that can translate to more income, more satisfaction with current income, or less spending on things that are not bringing value to the children in the household.   Almost every town or city has a Workforce Center that offers FREE services and programs. Visit or refer them to 

    5).  Invest in the children with special and unique gifts that inspire and encourage.  Visit sites such as and find products and services that contribute, support and encourage your children.  Visit sites such as and find a gift that will inspire a love of learning.  Every child deserves a special gift that reflects your hope for their future.  We must remind one another that we can only reap what we have sown.

    The Achiever in Training and S.M.A.R.T curriculum are exclusive copywritten and proprietary programs developed by HBCU kidz, Inc.

    For more statistics and academic resources please visit and click on “Educate.” To comment on this article, visit the Blog. To communicate with other concerned Black parents, please visit

    For more information about the program or the limited edition gift collection, visit The site contains information and ideas to proactively promote positive images for African American children and their families. Contact Joan Gosier at 1-888-HBCU-kid.


    Joan E. Gosier



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