Building wealth for youth of color, one club at a time, with Bob Wynn ’76 of CLIMB
Written by Cate Miller ’25 and William Dahl ’25 of the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team
As Bob Wynn ’76 knows, when it comes to stock ownership, race is a factor. More than half of white families own stock in the United States, compared to 34 percent of Black families and less than a quarter of Hispanic families.
As the pandemic exacerbated racial disparities, Bob decided to launch a startup in 2021 that would address the investing gap. The alumnus is the founder and CEO of CLIMB (Communities Learning to Invest and Mobilize for Business), a nonprofit that creates and coordinates an “economic empowerment ecosystem” for underserved youth, families, and communities through investment education.
When Bob noticed that many of the high school students CLIMB worked with were wearing Nike sneakers, he’d tell them, “We want to be sure that you know how to buy Nike stock just as easily as you know how to buy the shoes.”
Bob views sharing about the race-based “power imbalance” in the stock market, and how people of color are specifically “marketed to that” imbalance, as important aspects of financial literacy.
“There are going to be a lot of different things produced and sold to us that we may not necessarily realize aren’t in our best interest,” said Bob, the former financial education officer for the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. A serial entrepreneur, the alumnus has founded the startups UEDA (Urban Economic Development Association), Asset Builders of America Inc., Land Rich, Akamai LLC, and ProSquared LLC.
While pursuing a law degree from the University of Michigan, Wynn remembers learning the principle of “caveat emptor,” or “let the buyer beware.”
“I began to see that we operate within a policy framework of favoring the producer,” he said to a group of a Morehead-Cains at the 2022 Alumni Forum in Chapel Hill this past October. Bob led a Forum workshop entitled, “A Guide for ‘Young’ Morehead-Cains—Ages 18 to 88.”
“It’s interesting that many people don’t think about it, but in reality, we’re living in a capitalist society,” he said.
By the numbers: Median household net worth
- White families: $188,200
- Latinx: $36,100
- Black: $24,100
*Source: 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, Federal Reserve
One strategy to get young people involved in personal finance from an early age is by ushering them into an “investment club framework,” a concept pioneered by BetterInvesting, a company Bob previously served as a board member. In 1940, a few men started the Investment Club of Detroit to learn investing principles, build wealth, and keep one another accountable. The group eventually built a multi-million-dollar portfolio.
“We’re helping communities take a model that’s been proven for over 70 years and see if we can build that into some of the non-traditional communities and areas,” he said.
By helping set up clubs throughout the United States, CLIMB helps small groups learn how to invest in a collaborative and informed way. In addition to clubs, the organization facilitates youth development programs and entrepreneurial training.
According to Wynn, CLIMB seeks to raise awareness about building wealth rather than focusing on wealth redistribution.
“When I learned of the wealth disparities among households of different races, I became very motivated to figure out how we teach people the tools that can help them build wealth in their own right,” he said.
More about Bob
Bob Wynn ’76 has four decades of experience in leadership, advocacy, and innovation in the arena of economic development and empowerment of underserved communities. Before opening his businesses, Bob was the financial education officer for the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. In that capacity, Bob co-created several ground-breaking financial education programs, including the statewide network of Money Conferences, the Millionaires Clubs®, the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl®, and the Intelligent Arts Showcase®.
Earlier in his career, Bob served as the Director of Minority Business Development at the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, WEDC’s predecessor agency. While at Commerce, Bob developed the policy and legislative framework which established the Early Planning Grant and Minority Business Development Funds. These novel sources of capital, which included multiple revolving loan funds, were conceptualized and created through the efforts of Bob with the support of key legislators and the governor. During the fifteen-year life of the program, the Minority Business Development Fund provided ten million dollars in direct loans and leveraged an additional seventy million dollars for the benefit of hundreds of Wisconsin-based, minority-owned firms while impacting more than 2,800 jobs.
About the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team
The Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team is an extracurricular program and internship run by the Foundation’s communications team. Scholars of all backgrounds and class years collaborate to produce multimedia content on the topics and issues they’re passionate about, as well as support Morehead-Cain’s institutional communications.
Members cover the following beats tied to Morehead-Cain’s departments: selections and recruitment, the scholar experience, development, and alumni engagement. Scholar-generated content is distributed across all of Morehead-Cain’s channels, including social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube), the Catalyze podcast, email newsletters, and the website (moreheadcain.org). The team’s audience comprises more than 3,300 scholars and alumni.
Current members of the team for fall 2022 include William Dahl ’25, Laurelle Maubert ’25, Cate Miller ’25, Ria Patel ’25, Tucker Stillman ’25, Flavia Nunez Ludeiro ’26, and Elias Guedira ’26. The team is led by Content Manager Sarah O’Carroll of the Morehead-Cain Foundation.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Scholar Media Team, contact the communications team. Participation is a semester-long commitment.