To celebrate black history throughout February, CNBC + Acorns Invest in You: Ready. Place. Grow up. is spotlighting ordinary Americans who are investing in neighborhoods, schools and small businesses to create brighter financial futures.
During January, CNBC asked readers to nominate people in their communities who are making innovative changes.
A Book and A Smile by Khloe Joiner aims to give away one million books.
Four-year-old Khloe Joiner feared the motorcycle police officer she saw in her hometown of Missouri City, Texas, while riding in a car with her grandmother, Billye Moutra. But Moutra did not want her granddaughter to live in fear of the police, despite the history of police violence against African Americans. So he set up a meeting between Joiner and Officer Jessica Berry, who had the pretty braids that caught Joiner’s eye that day in 2016.
from that meeting, a book and a smile was born with a mission to help strengthen ties between the community and law enforcement, with books as currency to help restless children during encounters with the police. Joiner took the $141 in change she had been saving for a trip to Disneyland to buy more than a hundred books that were later donated to the police department to be given to children.
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Joiner, now nine years old, has given away 15,000 books, expanding his reach beyond police departments. To get books directly into the hands of children, she makes donations to hospitals, adoption agencies, and many other organizations, including those where age restrictions prohibit her direct involvement, such as shelters for those experiencing housing insecurity. .
He hasn’t made it to Disneyland yet, but he’s still donating by forgoing birthday parties to organize book drives and buy books with the $100 gift card he received as a 2022 finalist for Time magazine’s Kid of the Year. . When asked why he does so much community work, Joiner replies, “Volunteering makes my heart smile.”
Joiner’s goal is to give away a million books because he believes that books provide education, a valuable gift that can open doors to other opportunities. To help reach the million book mark, A Book and A Smile has smaller book drives, like this month’s goal to collect and give away 1,000 culturally diverse books.
Already close to achieving that milestone just days into the month, Joiner has his eye on the next goal of 1,000 children’s books to teach kids how to save and invest money.
“That’s something that isn’t a lot in the school library or that kids are exposed to,” says Moutra, who is excited to find books that teach kids not just the basics of short-term saving, but also explain in the long run. term savings, compound interest and purchase of shares.
Teaching children personal finance can help students avoid payday loans, limit student loans and credit card debt, and lead to higher credit scores. Experts say that increasing financial education can also help close the racial wealth gapwhere the average white family has eight times the wealth of the average black family, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve.
CNBC recognizes Khloe Joiner as a Face of Change for her work improving the world one book at a time.