First Boulevard today announced Academy Award-nominated executive producer, actor, author and entertainment reporter, Terrence J, as Strategic Advisor, Financial Education of the digital neobank. Together they have launched Project Tassels: 1,000 students, 1,000 degrees, 1,000 new outlooks on life. Terrence J will also spearhead the Financial Education initiative to promote financial literacy among HBCU students through a video series created by First Boulevard in which Terrence J will educate HBCU students about credit scores, student loans, credit cards, life off-campus and the importance of budgeting and savings.
Project Tassels aims to help 1,000 Black students reclaim their “stranded credits,” which a student has earned in the classroom but cannot claim due to an unpaid balance with their university. Stranded credits lead to transcripts being held as collateral and prevent students from obtaining their degrees — though they are still held responsible for student loans. A recent study by Ithaka S+R estimated approximately 6.6 million students have stranded credits in the U.S.
A New York Federal Reserve Bank study highlighted that workers with a bachelor’s degree on average earn well over $1 million more than high school graduates during their working lives. As Strategic Advisor, Financial Education, Terrence J will foster relationships with HBCUs to help First Boulevard identify students with good academic standing that are unable to graduate due to these stranded credits and pay off their unpaid balances.
First Boulevard’s mission is to build generational wealth for Black communities—particularly among HBCU students and the rest of Black America. U.S. educational debt is currently at $1.7 trillion continues to grow and disproportionately impacts Black students who tend to borrow more and have higher default rates than their white counterparts. This in turn results in delaying or preventing Black Americans from buying homes, building savings, or providing for their families and building generational wealth.
“I wasn’t entirely knowledgeable about the importance of financial literacy while attending North Carolina A&T State University, or even at the beginning of my career,” said Terrence J. “Had I known then what I know now about wealth building, I would’ve taken small steps to better manage my finances sooner. With Project Tassels, helping 1,000 students get the degree they’ve earned will add an additional $1B to circulate within the Black community. It’s a great start, but to really change the game, I’m challenging other organizations to join us.”
Known for his achievements as the host of 106 and Park and E! News, and the starring actor in Think Like A Man, Think Like A Man Too, and The Perfect Match, Terrence J has consistently used his platform to spotlight Black voices and experiences. As the national ambassador of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), Terrence recently partnered with Aladdin Campus Dining to support healthy eating programs in HBCUs year-round and moderated BET’s “Black America Votes: HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris.” Terrence is also the Executive Producer of Two Distant Strangers, a 2021 Academy Award nominated short-action film.
“Terrence J has shown a commitment to the advancement of Black America’s youth for years and we couldn’t be more excited to add him to our growing team of advisors and partners,” says First Boulevard President and CEO, Donald Hawkins. “Through his work with Project Tassels, Terrence J will help over 1,000 people gain a new lease on life and with a focus on financial education, he’ll also make a significant impact on HBCU students by providing modern day financial tips to avoid the debt trap and reach their goals.”