One woman is doing her part to help narrow the wealth gap between Black Americans and white Americans -- an app that helps kids save money and learn financial literacy.
NBC News spoke with Tanya Van Court, the founder and CEO of Goalsetter.co. Goalsetter.co is a financial technology company that focuses on all kids regardless of race. Her app has children play games and interact with memes and GIFs to learn about finances.
"None of us can ignore the fact that the wealth gap has so many contributing factors to it," Van Court said, adding that she understands her app cannot undo centuries of racial inequality and financial underinvestment. "But it can reverse one component that has absolutely contributed to the wealth gap — the lack of financial education and how to build wealth."
According to a 2019 report from the Federal Reserve, the typical white family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family. "The median wealth of white families was $188,200 at the end of 2019, while the median wealth of Black families was $24,100," NBC News wrote.
Van Court's idea for Goalsetter came from a conversation with her 15-year-old daughter Gabrielle. When her child was turning 9, Van Court said Gabrielle asked for an investment account and a bike for her birthday. The mother explained terms like "investment account" while her daughter did extra chores and academic work for money.
"What if every kid understood key financial concepts, learned delayed gratification and practiced it by saving for the things they wanted most? What if we could rescue them from the consumer mentality that we as adults often impose on them before they ever learn about money?" Van Court told NBC News.
Not only did Van Court want Goalsetter to teach kids about money and set money saving goals, but she wanted it to be fun for them. She also has a corporate background with Nickelodeon and developed products for moms, who, she found, normally handled money for their children.
"I ran Noggin.com and NickJr.com. I came with domain expertise and experience in how you engage moms and kids and simultaneously educate them," Van Court said.
However, when it came time to get funding from venture capitalists, she encountered a road block many other Black female entrepreneurs face when trying to get their business off the ground.
"The venture capitalists from whom she sought funding told her that fintechs that focused on kids were not good investments. Then, other companies like hers — but not owned by Black people or women — popped up and the same venture capitalists funded them," NBC News wrote. Van Court asked for funding again, but they told her, "Now you have well-funded competitors, so we can't fund you."
After Van Court got backing from family, friends and organizations, she was able to launch Goalsetter. As of November 26, the app has over 60,000 downloads. NBC News said, "The average family using the app has saved almost $200, and Goalsetter recently had its second family save more than $10,000."
The app also has a featured called "Learn Before You Burn," where kids' debit cards automatically gets frozen Sunday morning if they don't finish their financial literacy quiz for the week. The cards turn back on after they take the quiz. "Parents also have control that allows them to turn cards on or off. The financial education is from kindergarten through 12th grade," reporters said.
"It opened a new world, because I could move money and make investments," 14-year-old Nile Mpela said, who uses the app. "Through the 'lit' quizzes I learned more information about interest and how much you can save over time. Since you have to do the quizzes, it implants good information in your head, and I believe I can make good money decisions when I get older."
Van Court said she's working on some partnerships and ideas that will bridge the kids' investments into interest rates and useful financial aspects when they turn 18. On top of wanting to close the financial gap, she also hopes children don't "fall into the consumer trap" -- buying expensive items to appear successful.
"You spend your last dime trying to buy self-respect," Van Court said. "We are trying to undo that. You don't need red bottom shoes. Instead, you need to save and put money in the stock market."
Photos: Getty Images