To celebrate black history in February, CNBC + Acorns Invest in You: Ready. Together. Grow. spotlights everyday Americans who are investing in neighborhoods, schools and small businesses to create a better financial future.
In January, CNBC asked readers to name people in their communities making revolutionary change.
A Book and A Smile by Khloe Joiner is aiming to donate £1 million.
Four-year-old Khloe Joiner feared the motorcycle policeman she saw in her hometown of Missouri City, Texas, while riding in a car with her grandmother, Billye Moutra. But Moutra didn’t want her granddaughter to live in fear of the cops, despite a history of police violence against African Americans. So she arranged a meeting between Joiner and Officer Jessica Berry, who had the beautiful braids that caught Joiner’s eye that day in 2016.
From this meeting, A Book and A Smile was born with the mission of helping to strengthen the bonds between the community and law enforcement, with books as a bargaining chip to help children worried during clashes with the police. Joiner took the $141 in change she had saved for a trip to Disneyland to buy more than a hundred books which were then donated to the police department to pass on to the children.
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Now nine, Joiner has donated 15,000 books, expanding her reach beyond policing. To get the books directly into the hands of children, she donates to hospitals, adoption agencies, and many other organizations, including those where age restrictions prohibit her direct involvement, such as shelters for people in housing insecurity.
She still hasn’t arrived at Disneyland, but continues to give by forgoing birthday parties to hold book drives and buying books with the $100 gift card she received as a 2022 finalist. for Time magazine’s child of the year. When asked why she does so much community work, Joiner replies, “Volunteering makes my heart smile.
Joiner’s goal is to donate a million pounds because she believes books provide education, a valuable gift that can open doors to other opportunities. To help reach 1 million books, A Book and A Smile is running smaller book drives, such as this month’s goal to collect and donate 1,000 books on cultural diversity.
Already on the verge of reaching this milestone a few days into the month, Joiner has its eye on the next goal of 1,000 children’s books to teach children how to save and invest money.
“It’s something that there isn’t much in school libraries or that kids are exposed to,” says Moutra, who is thrilled to find books that teach kids not just the basics of short-term savings, but also explain long-term savings, compound interest and buying stocks.
Teaching kids about personal finance can help students avoid payday loans, limit student loans and credit card debt, and improve their credit scores. Experts say increasing financial literacy can also help close the racial wealth gap, where the average white family has eight times the wealth of the average black family, according to data collected by the Federal Reserve.
CNBC recognizes Khloe Joiner as a face of change for her work to improve the world one book at a time.