HSAN Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. And BET Networks Respond To U.S.Financial Crisis With Standing Room Only Atlanta Hip-Hop Summit On Financial Empowerment With Russell Simmons,Ludacris, Kevin Liles, Yung Joc And More


New York, N.Y. -October 23, 2008- The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), along with presenting sponsor Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., media sponsor BET Networks and supporting sponsor Enterprise Rent-A-Car issued a strong response on the US financial crisis to the hip-hop community on October 17, 2008 at Clark Atlanta University’s Cornelius L. Henderson Student Center with its proven program “Get Your Money Right,” now in its fourth successful year. HSAN’s response, in particular, was geared toward helping families and communities receive vital information to effectively navigate through the current, unprecedented financial challenges.

Joining HSAN co-founder Russell Simmons and CEO/President Dr. Benjamin Chavis on the panel was Atlanta native, Grammy Award winning hip-hop star and actor Ludacris; hip-hop stars Yung Joc and Yung Berg; Warmer Music executive Kevin Liles; D Woods of Danity Kane; Atlanta native, Bad Boy Records artist Gorilla Zoe; producer and Grammy Award-winning producer/songwriter Bryan-Michael Cox; Grammy Award-winning producer DJ Toomp; Atlanta radio icon and producer Gregg Street; Atlanta native and SRC Records artist Asher Roth and Universal Motown music executive Shanti Das.

The standing room only audience of young people listened raptly to basic and necessary information on how to manage their finances in this volatile market, the best way to manage their credit, get out of debt and keep themselves out of debt.
“Coping and thriving in these financially challenging times is always about keeping your head down and doing the work everyday,” emphasized Russell Simmons. “Find mentors who can help you. If you want to be successful, help someone who has already made it doing what you want to do.”

Financial and mortgage expert Maria Kong, of Markon Realty and Management, advised, “Especially for college kids, credit is so important. When you go to a job interview, they will look at your credit score to see if you’re trustworthy. They will look at it when you apply for insurance. Always keep your credit card balance below 50% of your limit. If you pay your credit card bill even one day late, your credit score can be affected.”

Warner Music Executive Vice President, Kevin Liles, knows from what he speaks. Starting as an intern at Def Jam years ago, he worked his way up to President of that label. “I started with hard work and getting my mind right. In hip-hop, everything is possible. Russ taught me it’s not about what you get, it’s what you give and as soon as I understood that, everything started coming into my life.”

Gorilla Zoe revealed a bit of his personal story, “I come from nothing, from the streets. Always chasing money. People like Russ and Kevin [Liles] kicked open the door for young brothers like me to come in and change my life. Everything you get, good or bad, it’s all on you,” he emphasized. “Never depend on anyone to give you your success.”

DJ Toomp has invested wisely with the money he’s made. He advised the audience, “Invest in things that have value. Have a plan, not just A and B, but A-T. I already know what property I want to buy. Feeling rich is a state of mind too. I’ve felt rich since I’m 17 and was able to make my own schedule instead of having to work someone elses.”

Grammy Award-winning producer Bryan Michael Cox has sage advice for living within your means. “Credit can be your worst enemy or it can be your best friend, you have to know what to do with it. If you have $20,000 of credit, you don’t have to spend all of it. Look at what your financial situation is and spend what you can pay back on time.”
Roberta Shields, Ludacris’ mother and the person who runs the Ludacris Foundation, talked about mentors. “As you’re working your way up, look to someone doing a good job and match their stride. As you improve and go higher, look to someone else and match their stride and, step by step, you’ll get to where you want to go.”

Dr. Benjamin Chavis stated, “The Atlanta “Get Your Money Right” Hip-Hop Summit was a great manifestation of the power of hip-hop to focus effectively on equipping young adults with the basics of financial literacy. We thank Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Enterprise Ren-A-Car Rental, BET Networks, Clark Atlanta University and V-103 Radio for their support and partnership that helped to make the Summit in Atlanta a tremendous success.”

With the mortgage crises at the heart of the current financial turmoil, HSAN became the first national non-profit organization to address the crisis by introducing a special workshop entitled, “Get Your House Right.” The workshop featured home ownership and mortgage lending professionals. Lynn Richardson, Chair of HSAN’s Home Ownership National Advisory Council, hosted the workshop, and partners in the event which participated included Genworth Financial, NAHREP (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals), NAREB (National Association of Real Estate Brokers) and Regions Bank.

“Get Your House Right!” is based on a model developed by Lynn Richardson and Lori Jones Gibbs, Vice President of Affordable Housing and Industry Affairs for Genworth Mortgage Insurance. It has been successfully implemented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Genworth’s communities of faith homeownership initiative.
“Genworth Financial has a long history of helping people realize the dream of homeownership,” said Lori Jones Gibbs, who is also co-chair of the HSAN National Homeownership Advisory Council. “The homeownership gap in this country can be closed. It’s very important that people who want to buy a home get educated about the process so they can make informed decisions and better choices. This initiative features free seminars by mortgage experts who give the facts, answer homebuyers’ questions and provide needed counseling.”

The “Get Your Money Right” tour utilizes the “Get Your Money Right” workbook, produced and distributed by HSAN in both English and Spanish and given to all participants. The workbook is free and is also downloadable at www.hsan.org
Community partners for the Summit included The Ludacris Foundation and 100 Black Men. The radio partner for the Atlanta Hip-Hop Summit was V-103.

Photo ID: Back row (from left to right) guest, guest, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Maria Kong, Gregg Street, Frank Ski; Middle row (from left to right) guest, Shanti Das, Valeisha Butterfield, Kenny Burns, Yung Joc, Asher Roth, Gorilla Zoe Front row (from left to right) Bryan-Michael Cox, D Woods, Russell Simmons and Kevin Liles

Photo credit: Johnny Nunez