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Play Black Wall Street pioneers an educational ecosystem focused on improving the financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills of Black youth through two avenues: a board game and a near peer-to-peer mentorship system called the LiT Program. What sets Play Black Wall Street apart from other education-based companies is their emphasis on Black history and their desire to level the playing field for Black youth as they pursue high school, college, and entrepreneurship. Together, Play Black Wall Street’s board game and LiT Program form the innovation of a comprehensive educational ecosystem that teaches a diverse array of business skills paired with an empowering mindset that Black youth can leverage throughout their lives. Over the past five years, this innovation has generated verified results, positive brand sentiment, and even the attainment of Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) funds through the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Overall, Play Black Wall Street’s educational ecosystem is a service-based innovation that utilizes a much more streamlined supply chain to deliver knowledge to consumers than is typically found within the education industry. This innovation promotes human interaction, trustworthy interpersonal relationships, and the provision of accurate, transparent, and inclusive knowledge relating to Black history, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership - all while actively working to progress three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: #1: No Poverty, #4: Quality Education, and #10: Reduced Inequalities.
In the American education system, many stories of Black success are left out of curriculums entirely or are drastically understated, and this downplays the amount of accomplishment, sacrifice, and truth found within history. This act is known as “whitewashing,” and it deemphasizes Black success and sacrifice as a way to strengthen systemic racism in the education system and prevent adolescents—especially Black adolescents—from seeing an accurate representation of strong Black leaders that can inspire them to reach their own potential as scholars, entrepreneurs, and leaders. “The things I remember learning in school [were from] a very specific time period,” De’Von Walker, Play Black Wall Street co-founder, recalls. “Every time Blackness [was] talked about [it was] either slavery or Civil Rights where [we were] still treated as subhuman. It subconsciously [made] you feel like ‘this is Blackness, this is me.’”
Disappointed with this unfair representation of Black history, De’Von designed Play Black Wall Street to offer a solution to the ineffective educational model and its service-based supply chain. Play Black Wall Street’s educational ecosystem provides a creatively curated board game and near peer-to-peer mentorship program that collectively instill a sense of pride, empowerment, leadership, financial literacy, and business savviness in Black youth as they navigate their futures. Through their innovation, Play Black Wall Street actively fights back against the delivery of inaccurate and doctored knowledge that plagues the traditional end-to-end supply chain process of the traditional institution-to-pupil model.
Play Black Wall Street’s board game is an educational tool that features real-life stories, names, and images of historical Black figures, Black neighborhoods, and Black-owned businesses. It also utilizes finance and entrepreneurship concepts to teach players about Black history, starting a business, and real-world situations. By playing the game, learning is made fun as players explore important topics that are either limited or completely left out of school curriculums. Play Black Wall Street’s board game is especially innovative because it represents humility and continuous learning. By regularly collecting consumer feedback, De’Von and his wife Sinclair (also a co-founder) update their board game to reflect player needs and ensure the educational process is both fun and effective. In fact, many parents who homeschool their children specifically utilize the board game as an educational tool! Today, Play Black Wall Street’s board game is available in two versions, Second Edition and Masterpiece Edition, so players can choose which mode is best for their learning style.
Coupled with their board game, Play Black Wall Street created a near peer-to-peer mentorship system called the LiT Program that focuses on college students mentoring high schoolers about entrepreneurship, college applications, resume building, and other events stereotypically not attributed to the Black experience. This program was established to inspire Black high school students in the Los Angeles area, many of whom will be first-generation college graduates, to look at those who came before them and use their experiences, knowledge, and camaraderie as motivation to create their own paths towards greatness. “Being able to show [the students] a real-life example [is] really important,” says De’Von. “There’s power in knowing that there were Black entrepreneurs and understanding that we can potentially recreate that.”
Co-Founders De'Von and Sinclair Walker with their Second Edition board game.
Back in 2017, De’Von Walker was working as a camp counselor when he was asked to pick a “camper name” for the summer and he knew his answer right away. Choosing Black Wall Street in honor of the prosperous 20th-century all-Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, De’Von loved the power and strength that the name embodied. However, De’Von was incredibly shocked to learn that his students did not know the history behind the name, nor the name itself. “Leaving the camp,” says De’Von, “I thought, 'What was a fun way to start exposing students to the history of Black Wall Street?'" De’Von then brought his idea to Sinclair, and the two got busy ideating new educational avenues.
The pair wanted to avoid mediums like documentaries and books that would slip through the cracks in the education industry, as well as racist and exploitative Black stereotypes that plagued the entertainment industry. After drawing out their first ideas for the board game layout onto a cardboard box, De’Von and Sinclair officially pursued developing a board game that would teach players about Black Wall Street in addition to other stories of Black success. Working with designers and manufacturers in the US and abroad, the Walkers developed an early edition of the Play Black Wall Street board game and immediately saw the educational impact it had on their community. The two then decided to create an entire educational ecosystem that centered on teaching Black history, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership to Black youth.
Fast forward to 2021, the Walkers were approached by the LAUSD with the request to establish a mentorship program. Seeing that students were attending school less and less due to the coronavirus pandemic, failing grades, and personal struggles, the Walkers worked with the LAUSD to make it fun to be in school again. Thinking back on his time in college working for the near peer-to-peer mentorship program African Diaspora Cultivating Education (ACE), De’Von saw firsthand how high-school students responded more to mentorship from similar-age peers than adults who were generations ahead of them, and sought to scale that model.
Further fueled by the frustration he and Sinclair felt over the lack of accurate and transparent Black representation in the classroom history lessons that they experienced as children—as well as the oversight of financial literacy in school curriculums altogether—the Walkers officially paired up with LAUSD to create their near peer-to-peer mentorship system called the LiT Program. This program allows Play Black Wall Street to build a safe space for Black youth to learn from strong and successful Black leaders, scholars, and entrepreneurs who were once in their very shoes.
Play Black Wall Street’s impacts on the education industry and the Black community extend from their internal business operations and results to their external effects on society and the environment. Through the development of their educational ecosystem and service-based supply chain that together streamline accurate, transparent, and inclusive information about Black history, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership from business to consumers, and even student to student, Play Black Wall Street is able to instill invaluable knowledge and skills in Black youth and ensure that they have access to the well-rounded education and motivation they deserve to become successful in all of their endeavors. Furthermore, Play Black Wall Street’s commitment to partnering with school districts, museums, bookstores, and historical sites around the nation shows a commitment to building a widespread distribution network that fights back against systematic oppression and educates everyone, everywhere—and especially Black youth—on the importance of Black history and its ties to financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
From setting a precedent in the education industry to serving as an example for Black youth as a successful Black-owned business themselves, Play Black Wall Street has crafted an impressive business model, inclusive educational ecosystem, and inventive service-based supply chain that can all be replicated on a global scale. Through their quantum leadership and radical innovation, co-founders De’Von and Sinclair Walker display inner well-being and mindfulness as they craft a more transparent, inclusive, empowering, and sustainable future for the education industry and the Black community.
Whether through their board game or their LiT Program, the biggest business benefit that Play Black Wall Street has experienced is that their educational ecosystem is effective in educating both those it directly touches and those who hear about it through word-of-mouth. The Walkers humbly admit that Play Black Wall Street is not the only influential force in the education industry, however, the company does make a big impact by being the most reliable source to learn about accurate, transparent, and inclusive Black history, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership—and all in one place. By providing a credible platform for Black voices to be heard and amplified, Black history to be remembered, and Black youth to be inspired, Play Black Wall Street has established itself as a living example of Black excellence in the form of a successful Black-owned business that gives back to both prior and future generations. Play Black Wall Street’s passion for helping Black youth paired with their core values of innovation, Black excellence, and family make other establishments, such as the LAUSD, proud to be in partnership with them.
“We want this to be an embodiment of us,” says Sinclair. “We hold ourselves very highly.” And they are not the only ones who do. Play Black Wall Street’s reputation and positive brand sentiment are so strong that they have captivated communities across the nation. Even though their LiT Program is currently limited to the LAUSD, the company’s board game can be found in establishments across the United States such as at the Greenwood Rising Museum within the actual Black Wall Street neighborhood; at the Underground Bookstore in Sacramento, California; at the Charles Wright Museum in Detroit, Michigan; and more. The Walkers are especially proud of their board game’s placement within the Greenwood Rising Museum. “The income that we’re making…we’re putting it right back into the community—specifically, right back into Tulsa to make sure they can rebuild the best that they can,” shares De’Von.
With time, Play Black Wall Street will continue to grow its empire and its efforts will impact and benefit more and more Black youth as the company transforms into a highly lucrative corporation whose business model, educational ecosystem, and service-based supply chain can be replicated around the globe. In the future, Play Black Wall Street plans to turn its book 'Black History Adventures of Rose and Rodney' into an animated series, and seeks to make its 4-week online Wealth Academy course available in schools via a licensing model. The company will also continue to promote De’Von’s five published books and the Walker’s podcast Melanated Married Millionaire in the Making (4M) as other resources for further education.
Aside from the business benefits of a strong and credible reputation and positive brand sentiment, Play Black Wall Street has also made an impact on society and the environment. Socially, the company’s board game and LiT Program have produced a more streamlined and reliable avenue for people of all races and ages, but especially Black youth, to learn about Black history, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Play Black Wall Street has collected concrete evidence of such verified progress from yearly reports and the people they have met traveling to new cities.
“We have now been a part of a conference called GameSchoolCon,” says Sinclair. “It’s a whole conference of parents and families who educate their children through games...It’s heartwarming to hear them come and stress that they love our game and play it all the time. To know it’s making an impact there is really cool to see that it’s actually being used as a curriculum for parents who are trying to see and teach the importance of this history.” De’Von goes on to add that incorporating so many real-life stories, names, and images of historical Black figures, neighborhoods, and businesses in their board game has increased interest and tourism in the very places depicted, directly aiding in the revenue pouring into Tulsa’s Black Wall Street neighborhood and accelerating its rebuilding.
Further impacts of Play Black Wall Street can be seen through their LiT Program where, before the program, 17% of students were uncomfortable discussing money and business and 6.9% had no vision for their future, and after the program, 0% of students were uncomfortable discussing money and business while 0% felt they had no vision for their future. Further proof of the program’s benefits comes from a 40% jump in student confidence related to finances and budgeting and 74.2% of students rating the program’s effectiveness and influence as a 4 or 5 out of 5. In addition, a smaller, but still incredibly impactful, pillar of Play Black Wall Street’s educational ecosystem, their Wealth Academy, has inspired 3 students to start their own businesses and 20 other students to submit mission statements about their future endeavors.
Aside from these societal impacts which display clear alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of #1: No Poverty, #4: Quality Education, and #10: Reduced Inequalities, Play Black Wall Street also aids the environment by avoiding unnecessary waste in the manufacturing of their board game and educational materials. Although the company initially sought to create a circular board game (representing the circulation of money in Black Wall Street), they ultimately opted to print a circular game board on the rectangular material to prevent their manufacturer from wasting the excess corner pieces. Play Black Wall Street is further cognizant of its environmental impact through its LiT Program and Wealth Academy as they utilize online classes, digital presentations, and QR codes to limit paper waste while simultaneously teaching environmental responsibility and more viable financial resource allocations to students.
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De'Von Walker, Co-Founder
Sinclair Walker, Co-Founder
Play Black Wall Street is a Black-owned for-profit business founded in 2017 by De’Von and Sinclair Walker. The company is based in Los Angeles and aims to enhance the financial literacy of Black youth through the empowering true experiences of Black excellence found throughout history - particularly Tulsa, Oklahoma’s prosperous Black Wall Street (also known as the Greenwood District). Today, Play Black Wall Street has grown to include digital and in-person educational resources that aid Black youth in 1) setting and achieving goals related to their high school, college, and entrepreneurship experiences; 2) building confidence in their skills and learning to leverage them; and 3) motivating them to create generational wealth. Play Black Wall Street teaches about accurate, transparent, and inclusive historical stories and lessons while also utilizing their community resources to empower the next generation of Black scholars, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Through their endeavors, Play Black Wall Street seeks to remember, relearn, and rebuild as they honor the successes, sacrifices, legacies, and ideals of the Black trailblazers who came before them.