National company considering Port Arthur to launch college prep, financial education program

Published 12:44 am Saturday, June 24, 2023

David Adefeso said people often wonder why someone like him and his former NBA star business partner have started working on the student debt crisis for the underserved and underprivileged.

And it stems from his history.

The native of Nigeria came to the U.S. on his 21st birthday with $250 and no close family or friends.

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“It was a very difficult time for me. We don’t call it homeless anymore. We say we are transitional. I was transitional for six months,” he said. “We don’t say we were poor. That’s not politically correct. We say we are underserved. I was underserved. And we don’t say we are hungry anymore. That’s too direct. We say we’re food deprived. I was food deprived most of the time. But I was lucky. I was blessed. And I realized I had an advantage … I had a college degree in analytics, no student debt and the grace of God.”

Adefeso went on to become an accountant and worked in corporate finance before starting his own wealth management company in 2005.

“Five years ago I had reason to turn around, and I realized people like me — black people, successful black people, people who had opportunity, who had relationships, who had knowledge, who could do research — a lot of people like me have left a lot of people like me behind,” he said. “I became more successful than I ever thought I could be, but I left so many people behind. So I started to reach back, and I hated what I saw.”

Adefeso and Cedric Ceballos spoke to key community members this week in Port Arthur regarding their new program, Sootchy, which works to build a college fund for children while also teaching them about financial independence.

Sootchy is in the process of picking from eight cities to launch the pilot program in the fourth quarter of this year.

Adefeso was in Port Arthur after meeting Mayor Thurman Bartie in Washington D.C. approximately two years ago.

They reconnected again in January, and Bartie asked Adefeso to consider Port Arthur.

“In my travels moving about the country and networking with individuals here in the United States of America, I found out so many things that happen in other municipalities that don’t happen here,” Bartie said. “But they don’t happen here because we don’t reach out to see if we can actually qualify or even be a recipient of what those benefits are in those type programs.”

Sootchy partners with businesses and other stakeholders to create college funds for students. In addition, they have built a financial literacy program to teach children the value of credit, avoiding impulse buys, the difference between assets and liabilities, etc.

“It doesn’t mean if we don’t pick Port Arthur that we will not work with Port Arthur. It just means it could be down the road,” Adefeso said. “We’re not just here for a year or two. We’re here forever if we pick you.”

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