South

Texas

140619_HER07_09Johnny Deas

Age: 40
Hometown: Lewisville
Cause: Financial literacy through hip-hop

When Deas was getting his MBA, he took free classes in financial literacy. First session: standing room only. Last session: 75% drop out. “I hung tough,” says Deas, “but it was pretty boring. I thought, what if there was a way to make classes fun?” In 2007, Deas founded FinancialLiteracyMusic.com. He wrote the lyrics, a friend wrote the music and they produced CDs in a garage studio. Speaking at churches, colleges or the Urban League, Deas estimates he’s reached more than 1,200 people through his combination of music, power point, workbooks and Mr. Bad Debt, a character who looks suspiciously like Deas with a goatee and who raps, “You should refrain / from spending your change / on depreciating things / outside your price range.”

Says Deas:

I talk to folks about their rough neighborhood, just like the one I grew up in. Then I talk about how I left and they could do the same.”

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