Photo courtesy Ashley Fox
Ashley Fox is an entrepreneur and former Wall Street analyst who quit her six-figure job to educate individuals about financial success through her organization Empify.
Merging the words "empower" and "modify," Fox came up with the concept of Empify in 2013 after being bored with her day job and wanting to have a greater impact in her community.
"I never wanted to be an entrepreneur," she tells Because of Them We Can. "I always wanted to just make a lot of money, wear nice clothes and work in corporate America. However, after a few months, it wasn’t fulfilling."
As an employee of J.P. Morgan's asset management department, Fox worked with individuals who had assets of $25 million or more. But, after helping these individuals learn how to manage their wealth, Fox grew a deeper desire to take the knowledge she learned on Wall Street and deliver it to the people who needed these tools and resources more. So, after three years of working in asset management, she quit her job to do just that.
In 2016, she became a financial advisor and started working with every day adults to help them build wealth and properly manage their money. But in the midst of doing this work, Fox says she faced her own financial troubles as an entrepreneur trying to build a business.
"No one tells you that when you run a business a check doesn’t come in every two weeks," she says. "I lost my apartment and moved back to Philly to stay with my parents for two years."
Overall, she says, she’s grateful for that experience and explains, "if I had not been through what I been through, then I would not have been able to empathize with the people I serve now."
She continues by saying, "Losing my money was hard because I identified with the things I had like the job and the clothes I wore. And I think I needed that experience because now I don’t need anything to validate who I am."
Eventually, after working as an independent financial advisor for a few months, Fox was able to build up her business to where she had over 200 clients in the Philadelphia area. However, after serving adults who were often stuck in their financial ways, Fox realized that the real way to create change in the community was to reach the youth. So, she reached out to local school principals and charter school leaders in the Philadelphia area to offer free financial courses to the youth. Then, in 2017, she was offered a contract with the Philadelphia school district.
Currently, Fox says, her Empify courses have been taught to kids in the 6th-12th grade in over 50 schools in the Philadelphia, New York City and soon-to-be D.C. area.
"They teach you everything about how to work and study, but they don’t teach you the basic things about how to open a checking account or how to buy a house," explains Fox. "For me, I want to be able to put financial education in our schools not just as something that is an option, but something that is mandatory."
Recently, Fox has expanded the reach of her financial education course through a partnership with the prison system where every Tuesday she goes in and works with the young men in a Bronx juvenile detention center.
"I think it's about more than teaching money," says Fox. "There is a mental imprisonment associated with that and there is also a physical imprisonment. So, there are actually two layers that need to be peeled off in order to show them they are not worthless."
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It’s OFFICIAL!! Our @empify financial program is now being taught in the Prison System. As of this month, all 16-17 year olds are no longer allowed to be in Riker’s Island. They have since been transferred to a juvenile detention in the Bronx & yesterday was the first time I taught the young men! . . I thought it would be tough for me considering that we have no technology, and because I have never taught incarcerated young men. However, I immediately let them know that “I don’t care what you did. All I care about is what you’re doing and what you are going to do.” These young kings are not prisoners, they are just trapped in a system that is designed to remove any hope, strength, and belief they possess. I promise to teach them, build them & financially empower them! Our Black men are the strongest they come & I intend to remind them of their greatness every single week! #empify #wealthbuilder #nyc #bronx #financialeducationintheprisonsystem #blackkings
Her work with the prison system aligns with her overall goal of building the hearts and minds of people financially, regardless of where they are in life.
Fox still has a program through Empify where she teaches adults about financial literacy so that they have the confidence to teach their kids about proper spending and investing habits as well. She says her big goal is to one day build a physical school and an online school where people have access to get the tools and resources they need to build generational wealth and financial success.
"I think as a community, we make everyone else rich but no one gives us the time and resources to show us how to be rich," says Fox. And ultimately, she explains, that is what she wants to do with Empify.