Investor creates app with hopes of encouraging more Black Americans to invest
Stackwell Capital launched the app that the founder says the goal is to eliminate the racial wealth gap
Trevor Rozier-Byrd believes so strongly that this country’s racial wealth gap is “the social justice issue of our time,” that he has taken it upon himself to help close that gap.
And the tool — one he invented — is as close as your electronic device.
Stackwell Capital, a Boston-based digital financial technology company designed to eliminate the racial wealth gap for Black Americans, just launched a robo-investing app designed by and for the Black community. Rozier-Byrd is the founder and CEO of Stackwell and believes the app is just the beginning in changing the economic lives of Black Americans for generations to come.
“What I saw missing from the conversation about the wealth gap and what to do with it was a conversation about investing to build wealth,” said Rozier-Byrd. “I just believe wholeheartedly that the racial wealth gap is the social justice issue of our time. It directly impacts every other material issue that we care about in the Black and brown communities.
“Think about things like access to affordable housing, health care, quality education, food insecurity issues, criminal justice reform,” he said. “All of those things are directly impacted by a person’s access to capital or lack thereof that have left too many Black people feeling like they aren’t set up for success in this country.”
The Stackwell app, now available to download from the App Store, prides itself on its simplicity in helping users begin their investment journey. There is a $1 monthly subscription fee and $10 minimum investment. The app is composed of:
- Automated investment portfolios, recommended based on user-specific goals to help individuals invest with confidence;
- In-app educational content that demystifies investing so users can grow their knowledge and their wealth; and
- Intentional design and science-based nudges to help users stay committed, stay consistent, and achieve their long-term wealth building goals and objectives.
The median Black household wealth is $24,100 (for white households, it is $188,200); only 2% of Black families have a net worth over $1 million, compared with 16% of white families. Black women hold more than 90% less wealth than White men. The racial wealth gap is growing larger with every generation: Before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for every $1 of wealth held by a Black household, a white household had $7. Today, for every $1 of wealth held by a Black American household, a white household has nearly $8. But for every $1 of wealth in a Black millennial household, the amount more than doubles to $17 for a white household.
Rozier-Byrd says their goal of eliminating the racial wealth gap is an ambitious but a necessary step to empowering and growing a new community of Black investors.
“If we truly want to talk about economic justice and wealth building, there has to be a space for investing. I completely appreciate there are a whole host of social, emotional and cultural barriers that exist within our community that prevent us from investing in ways in which our white peers do, and that is explicitly what we are trying to solve at Stackwell,” he said.
“It’s about increasing representation in that space of investing so more people need to see themselves in the financial market and be successful when they get there, to have this sense of empowerment, this sense of confidence that this is something that they can do.”
Although the app is designed primarily to address the needs of Black investors, anyone can sign up to use the service.
“While we have architected our solution to specifically address the Black experience as it relates to investing, the truth is that many of the same challenges impact other demographics as well. If you are someone that wants to know where and how to start investing, if you wish you had tools to simplify the process, if you want to take control of your financial future and have great agency and control to direct the outcomes that matter in your life, then Stackwell is for you.”
In combination with the app launch, Stackwell has announced a series of multiyear partnerships with several NBA and WNBA teams. The New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx, Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics have committed to facilitating community engagement with the Stackwell app through programming and events in local Black communities designed to increase investment education and access to investment in financial markets.
Over the next three years, Stackwell and the teams will develop co-branded content reaching several million people on local and national levels, open up more than 3,500 Stackwell accounts, all seeded with initial funding for local program participants, and contribute more than $250,000 back into the local communities to support the advancement and wealth building opportunities of Black students, entrepreneurs, creators and small business owners, among others.
“When I look at the NBA, I see an institution that has extreme cultural relevance within the Black community,” Rozier-Byrd said of the partnership. “These [specific] teams are in large Black consumer markets where the impacts of racial wealth gaps and income gaps are most acute. The NBA and the WNBA are already in the community, so let’s show up alongside them. Let’s provide financial literacy training and education and programs. Let’s give people in those local communities access to capital to help get them started on this process.”
Daniel Gafford, a center for the Washington Wizards, said the Stackwell app is a great educational tool to help Black people learn about investing and money management and encourages others to try it.
“Money management is not really taught in Black communities throughout the world. It’s something that is very much needed and this app helps a lot with education and showing people how to take care of their money, how to budget their money, what to put their money into and what not to,” Gafford said. “The education part is what the Black community is missing.”
He said he struggled to understand how “the world works moneywise ” while growing up and while in college, and had to figure things out on his own. Now in his fourth year with the Wizards, he has a firmer grip on his finances and seeks to continue learning how to invest while inspiring others to begin taking care of their money.
“You can have all the money in the world and go bankrupt the next day if you don’t use it right,” Gafford said. “I want to bring awareness to the Stackwell app, encourage people to look into it, research it, do whatever you need to do to be comfortable with it, and once you get comfortable inside the app, it will help you out the way you want to be helped. You can start learning about finances whenever you need to. Age ain’t nothing but a number when it comes to finances. Take the time to learn about it, because the sky’s the limit. “
Helping the Black community build wealth for itself is personal to Rozier-Byrd, who spent years after college working as a lawyer and in the finance industry, but had no experience with investing growing up.
“I spent years building a lot of wealth for people who don’t look like us,” he said. “In my personal upbringing we didn’t talk about finance or investing, that’s just how it was.”
He recalls that shortly after college a friend’s father explained the power of long-term investing and “that’s all it took for me. I realized I don’t have to have a lot of money, I just need to get there, get started and be consistent with my investing.”
He continued in his career but soon had a strong desire and what he calls a “sense of obligation to give back and to create access to opportunities for folks that look like us.”
He stepped out on faith in 2020 and founded Stackwell, whose name is a combination of “stack” and “wealth.” “It is a constant reminder of what we are striving to build and achieve alongside our users over time,” he said.
While the app was built to address the “social, emotional and cultural barriers to entry that have contributed to underinvestment across the entire Black population in America,” Rozier-Byrd said, it has a particular focus on millennials and Generation Zers because that is where the problem is most acute and where there is the greatest opportunity for impact.
“We are focused on this issue because the numbers tell a story of a racial wealth gap that is growing more severe with each passing generation, and which has only worsened due to the impact of the pandemic. If we don’t take the necessary steps to reverse this trend, the future of the Black community is at risk,” said the 39-year-old married father of three.
To that end, earlier this year Stackwell launched its Student Ambassador Program, which now totals nearly 40 students and college athletes, both male and female, from more than a dozen schools across the country, including Boston College, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Morehouse and Ohio State. The program serves all students with critical financial literacy and support, and assists student-athletes as they navigate name, image and likeness deals and is near and dear to Rozier-Byrd’s heart — he was a college athlete himself, excelling in track and field at Boston College.
“I found myself mentoring college athletes and then a couple of the mentees worked as interns at Stackwell,” he said. “As NIL came about, it made a lot of sense for us to enter that space for the purpose of impact, providing access to mentorship and guidance and opening up our networks.
“I want to make sure that these kids understand I am them and they are me. They will be me in 10, 15, 20 years and they need to understand that entrepreneurship, investing or whatever it is that they want to do, is entirely in their reach.”
Recent Georgetown graduate Alexis Smith, 22, started working with Stackwell earlier this year as part of its Student Ambassadors program and sees how college students — particularly student-athletes taking part in NIL — can benefit from the app.
“It’s been a great experience working with Stackwell. With the money students get through NIL, it’s a great way to see into the future. It’s important to not shy away from saving now just to have fun in the present. You have to separate that mindset as college athletes in particular, especially Black college athletes,” she said. “We’ve seen for ages how universities have made millions off of players’ jerseys, etc. and now they [athletes] have the same opportunity to invest in themselves.
“Investing through a platform like Stackwell is a great way to do that. Starting early to set yourself up for those big life moments like buying a house, but also to set up your family for that long-term success so we can close that gap that keeps widening over time.”
Caleb Grant, a 19-year-old sophomore at Morehouse, is also a student ambassador with Stackwell. “We’ve been working for a while pushing it out and telling others about it and now all the hard work is paying off and the app is finally coming out.
“It’s very important at a young age to learn investing. We need it for our future and we all need to know how to be financially smart with our money,” said the football player. “Some blow it on things they don’t need to blow it on, especially in our community. We need to be educated financially and make the right decisions.”
Boston University sophomore Toby Makoyawo, who runs track and field at the school, began interning with Stackwell last year. “As soon as I heard about the app I was excited to help out in any way I could.
“As young people, sometimes you don’t understand the power of investing. It’s OK to invest in the market and build wealth. A lot of us just spend money we have. I want to live, go out and buy nice things. That’s why the app is very important.” he said. “It reminds you that if you put money aside every month, even a small amount, it does add up.
“Investment is all about discipline. Stackwell is Black-owned and he wants to keep wealth in the Black community. This is one of the biggest things about Stackwell and why it will attract Black consumers.”
However, Rozier-Byrd knows that changing the financial mindset of the average Black consumer isn’t as simple as an app on a device, but says it’s an important start.
“It has to be more than the app. That’s why we are focused on the partnerships with NBA and the student ambassadors program — community is extremely important. What we have found in our research is trust is important but it is also relational within the Black community,” he said.
“So we have to be very intently focused on investing in the community and being intentional and authentic in the way in which we show up and support people. It’s really about bringing more people into the fold, giving them the information and tools that they need to have confidence and be successful once they get started.”
Stackwell is unwavering in its commitment to ride alongside consumers and investors on their financial journey. “That is what the Stackwell brand is about,” Rozier-Byrd said. “We have an unbelievable sense of humility and compassion about where people are at and an understanding that this is hard, but we can do this together, and when we do it together, anything is possible.”
For more information, visit www.stackwellcapital.com, follow the company on social media (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and TikTok) @StackwellCap.