When he was 8 years old, Ezekiel Ford decided that he wanted a new set of soccer cleats and shin guards. Ezekiel’s mom, Renay, shot down his request. Rather than sulking or giving up, Ezekiel decided he would earn the money himself. He packed his younger sister’s stroller full of snacks and hit the streets of Village of Westover to sell snacks to local kids.
By the end of the week he had the money he needed. That was two years ago. Ezekiel and his younger sister Jakin now spend their summers selling snacks in four neighborhoods across Dover. What started as a way to earn extra money has become a business for the Ford family. They named their new gig EZ Dollars.
Ezekiel has since launched a second business with his family, called Dollars Made EZ. The social business is designed to teach kids ages 7 to 12 in low income neighborhoods how to manage their money.
Dollars Made EZ grabbed national attention this year after Ezekiel submitted a video presentation about the business to the Biz Kids Build Your Social Biz contest.
Ezekiel was selected as the grand prize winner and was awarded $3,000 and assigned a mentor to help him further his business.
“It was a big thing for me because my business had $3,000 and a mentor helping out so that I can expand the business,” he said.
The idea for Dollars Made EZ came out of Ezekiel’s experience learning how to manage the profits of EZ Dollars. Over the past two years the family estimates that the entrepreneurial project has earned about $6,000. The profits provide spending money for Ezekiel and his sister Jakin, but his parents also taught them how to break down their money into spending, saving, sharing and investing.
“We used to money to start CD accounts and college funds for the kids,” Renay Ford explained.
Ezekiel thought other kids his age might benefit from that knowledge, too. The Fords decided to partner with the Capital Green Community Center to teach neighborhood kids how to break down their money, Brian Ford said.
“The Capital Green Community Center has an after-school program. They asked us if we could do it there,” he said. “We did our first six-week pilot there. It was an hour a week for six weeks.”
Brian and Renay taught students how to break down their dollars into those same four segments. Using their formula, students learned that 50 percent of each dollar could be spent, 20 percent should be saved, 20 percent should be used to invest and the final 10 percent should be shared with friends, family, churches or non-profits.
Page 2 of 2 - Each student was given four jars so they could divide their money. Renay teaches the 7-to-9-year-olds and Brian teaches the older kids. Ezekiel and Jakin work as peer advisors and cheerleaders.
“They were helping us,” said Renay “They were our peer helpers. When the other children see that they can do it, that they have these money management skills, they become pretty excited. They know they can do it, as well.”
With the help of the money Ezekiel won from Biz Kids, the Ford family has two six-week Dollars Made EZ classes planned for this fall. One will be held at the Capital Green Community Center and the other will be held in Camden at Mifflin Meadows. Until their next round of classes begins the Ford family is just taking pride in Ezekiel’s accomplishment, Renay said.
“I’m very proud of him because as an 8-year-old he really wanted to help out and he took that imitative,” she said. “It showed that even as a child he was able to think so independently.”