Kean University announces new financial education initiative

Program launched at Economic Empowerment Summit co-hosted by Prudential Financial and Kean University Foundation

Kean University announced a new, robust financial education program set for release in fall 2023. The dfree@KeanUniv program will further the regional impact of Kean as an anchor institution, with benefits for students and families across New Jersey.

Under the new initiative, Kean will secure 1,500 licenses for a new digital tool from dfree, founded by the Rev. DeForest Soaries Jr. to educate, motivate and support people on their path to financial freedom. The program is funded through a federal earmarked appropriation focused on generation-to-generation strategies. The app provides information about everything from reducing credit card debt to budgeting and is easily accessible on mobile devices in real time.

The program was announced at the Economic Empowerment: Advancing Financial Literacy Summit in Edgartown, Massachusetts, an event co-hosted with Prudential Financial that focused on how anchor institutions can uplift their local communities.

“Kean’s mission as an anchor institution is to foster the well-being of all our students and their families. Today, we take pride in showcasing our new financial literacy initiative alongside esteemed leaders from Prudential, dfree Foundation and other key partners,” Kean President Lamont Repollet said. “Our aim is to empower families to pave their own path toward success, and we recognize that financial literacy plays a vital role in this endeavor. These collaborations between public and private entities are crucial in advancing our shared objectives.”

Shané Harris, vice president, head of social responsibility and partnerships at Prudential Financial and president, the Prudential Foundation, said Prudential is committed to developing long-term partnerships that strengthen communities as part of the company’s purpose of making lives better by solving the financial challenges of the changing world.

“Prudential and Kean University share a common perspective as anchors in our communities,” Harris said. “We are excited to be part of Kean’s efforts to strengthen the financial security of families in New Jersey through greater financial education, empowering today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders in their communities.”

“I am honored to partner with Kean University in our launch of dfree Digital, a digital, interactive and intuitive platform that makes financial education an experience that turns into a lifestyle,” Soaries said.

Sancha Gray,  senior vice president of entrepreneurial education initiatives at Kean, said the licenses will be distributed through Kean’s EEI Generation to Generation program that supports young people and their families. Support will be provided in English and Spanish.

The university will use federal funding that was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10th Dist.) to purchase the tool.

The event was moderated by global executive and business strategist Jackie P. Taylor, who said financial education initiatives help “foster a generation of financially savvy individuals.”