While most cultures use life insurance as a death benefit tool for generating multigenerational wealth, African Americans have generally viewed it as simply a means of covering burial expenses. “It is time to help close the wealth gap by making African-American families aware of the ability to create financial stability, economic opportunity and multigenerational wealth, with life insurance as the foundation,” said Eugene Mitchell, corporate vice president of New York Life Insurance Company’s African- American market.
New York Life’s commitment to creating greater financial awareness among African Americans began in 1957, when it hired one of the industry’s first African-American life insurance agents, Cirilo A. McSween. McSween dedicated his life to empowering his community. He was adamant about helping African Americans create estates and leave legacies to financially empower the next generation.
Today, New York Life and its more than 1,300 African-American agents around the country have pledged to help build on the legacy of strong leadership that McSween embodied. In 2011, the company launched its $50 Billion Empowerment Plan, to help make dreams of college, homeownership, entrepreneurship and retirement realities for African Americans*.
The Empowerment Plan is a promise to help generate $50 billion of generally tax-free, future income for the African-American community, every five years. “With as little as $250,000** in life insurance coverage, a family can provide financial security for its children and a financial foundation upon which future generations can grow,” said Mitchell. “Our goal is to touch the lives of at least 200,000 African-American families every five years, and illustrate how life insurance can help ensure them the same financial protection and peace of mind that other cultures enjoy.”
Impacting local communities
New York Life’s Charlotte office has fully embraced Mitchell’s mission to drive the message of economic empowerment to individuals, families and businesses in local communities. As of Nov. 5, 2017, agents in North Carolina have secured more than $700 million of in-force life insurance protection and future income, to help make financial security a reality for African Americans.
Agent Centario Grier leads some of the community building efforts on the ground, leveraging all opportunities to create awareness around financial literacy. He proudly stated, “This business allows me to conduct educational workshops with churches, while working with lawyers and accountants– together we have an even bigger impact on the community.” One client at a time, Grier is on a mission to help individuals and families understand the importance of planning for their future, to break the cycle of poverty. African Americans suffer from the highest poverty rate compared to all other groups; 22 percent of African Americans live in poverty. Single mothers are particularly at risk; single mom families account for 51 percent of all families in poverty.3 Financial literacy can help combat some of the economic issues disproportionately affecting African Americans nationwide.
As of August 25, 2017, the company’s African-American market agents have surpassed the milestone of $50 billion of in-force life insurance protection and future income, to help families and businesses create financial stability for their loved ones.
Mitchell acknowledged that the strength of New York Life’s initiative rests in the community’s willingness to reconsider the potential long-term impact of sound life insurance planning. “If we can rethink our perceptions about life insurance and make personal commitments to become wealth builders,” suggested Mitchell, “we have the collective power to change the financial landscape for the next generation of African Americans.”
Neither New York Life, nor its agents, provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal or accounting professional before making any decisions.
This educational third-party article is provided as a courtesy by [Agent’s Name], Agent, (CA/AR Ins. Lic. #) New York Life Insurance Company. To learn more about the information or topics discussed, please contact [Agent’s Name] at [Contact Information].
 McKinney, Jeffrey (2017, July 17). Multiple Ways Life Insurance Can Build Wealth for Blacks and Community. Retrieved from http://www.blackenterprise.com/money/multiple-ways-life-insurance-can-build-wealth-for-blacks-and-community/
 As of October 31, 2017, New York Life has 1,310 African-American mMarket agents
 U.S. Census Bureau. Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016; Issued September 2017