Eight in ten Americans have debt, and minority communities hold disproportionately more consumer debt than white Americans. In addition, according to an FDIC national survey, almost 54 percent of African American households do not have a bank account or use expensive alternative financial services, including money orders, remittances, payday loans, rent-to-own services, etc. These individuals are at higher risk for financial instability and crippling debt.
Financial literacy is not formalized in schools or communities and can often be the gateway to financial stability and freedom.
In response to the growing financial crisis in the United States, Rev. Dr. Deforest “Buster” Soaries Jr. created a financial empowerment curriculum and training program, dfree®. Embodying “no debt, no deficits, no delinquencies,” dfree has helped thousands break the cycle of debt and financial slavery through education, empowerment, and personal responsibility. With a focus on values-based principles and practical approaches, dfree has launched a cultural movement of financial freedom.
The dfree model takes a multi-faceted approach that involves support, education, and motivational initiatives. A wide range of resources and content includes a workbook, leader certification materials, campaign and events, videos and podcasts, and more. The curriculum focuses on lifestyle change that gives participants the ability to take responsibility for their finances, the willingness to help others do the same, and the capacity to provide for their families and future generations.
dfree was conceived in 2005 in response to nationwide overspending poised to cripple individuals and the nation. Their impact is astounding. For example, Kevin and NaTasha Piert struggled to get control of their finances. With the help of the dfree program, the Pierts were able to increase their credit scores 100 points and pay off $6,000 — one-third of their debt — in just eight months. The Pierts are only one example of thousands.
In 2016, with the help of Stand Together, dfree quadrupled the number of churches offering their curriculum — reaching over 800 congregations. dfree is increasing their core faith-based curriculum and building content specific to new demographics: young adults, seniors, women, married couples, community organizations, and schools. Pilot programs are launching in community centers and schools that serve low-income populations to help parents and leaders address the root cause of poverty at home, while these organizations address other societal needs.