Kean University
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Kean University Announces New Financial Education Initiative

Kean University has introduced its new financial education program set for release in Fall 2023. The dfree@KeanUniv program is expected to further the regional impact of Kean as an anchor institution, with benefits for students and families across New Jersey.

The program was launched 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,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “Today, we take pride in showcasing our new financial literacy initiative alongside esteemed leaders from Prudential, dfree Foundation and other key partners. 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.”

Under the new financial education initiative, Kean will secure 1,500 licenses for a new digital tool from dfree®️, founded by Rev. Dr. DeForest B. 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.

“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 K. Gray, Ed.D., senior vice president of Entrepreneurial Education Initiatives (EEI) at Kean, said the licenses will be distributed through Kean’s EEI Generation to Generation program (G2G) that supports young people and their families. Support will be provided in English and Spanish.

“Equipping students and their families with the dfree@KeanUniv financial literacy app supports them in making informed financial decisions and is crucial in breaking the cycle of debt and building generational wealth,” said Gray, who added that the digital tool enables better management of resources and leads to improved long-term financial stability.

The University will use federal funding that was sponsored by U.S. Representative Donald Payne Jr., from New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District, 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.”

“Financial literacy is not merely about balancing budgets or understanding credit scores; it is about empowering individuals to make informed decisions in the modern financial landscape,” said Taylor. “The dfree@KeanUniv Financial Literacy Program is a core component of economic empowerment and supports students and families in making smart financial choices, building wealth, and securing a brighter future for themselves.”

James Smith, co-founder and president of J. Anderson & Associates in Florham Park, spoke about the impact of financial literacy on careers.

“As an executive search firm, we understand the importance of equipping students and families with financial knowledge to navigate today’s complex economy. We commend Kean University for launching this new financial education initiative and are proud to be a partner in the initiative, which can make a lasting impact on countless individuals in our communities,” Smith said.

Clarinda Joseph-Cumberbatch, chief operating officer at Kean University Foundation, noted the Kean University Foundation is dedicated to garnering support for scholarships to enable more students to pursue a college education, enter the workforce, and elevate the standard of living for their families. She emphasized the crucial role that the University plays in driving economic growth in the community.

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