Nia [NEE ya] is the fifth day of Kwanzaa. In the Nguzo Saba (seven principles), Nia means “Purpose:” to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community and to restore our people to our traditional greatness.
Tywan Anthony is an example of someone who has clearly defined his purpose— one rooted in community development and economic empowerment.
Tywan Anthony was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant in a very hard-working close-knit family. But growing up, Anthony admits, it was hard to watch his family toil day-in and day-out, yet continue to struggle financially.
“Growing up, things were really hard,” said Anthony. “When I looked at Bedford-Stuyvesant and saw the economic disparity in this community versus the rest of the country, I knew I wanted to bridge that gap.”
Anthony always wanted to do be a part of making a better Bed-Stuy, but he wasn’t sure where or how to get started. So he started with himself: Anthony attended college at West Virginia University and Pittsburgh State University, both on football scholarships.
Then, at age 21, he purchased a house and two plots of land, beginning the first steps toward his own financial freedom
Today, at age 28, Anthony works at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in the Financial Empowerment Center where he helps young people, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged population of Bedford-Stuyvesant learn financial literacy by equipping them with the tools that will guide them toward financial freedom.
“Being financial aware is really important to me,” said Anthony. “As a community, we definitely have to do better in deciphering our economic situation.”
He says the most heartfelt issue to him is meeting with people at the age of retirement who don’t have a dime saved because they are unaware of retirement investment vehicles.
“We spend so much time working hard when we’re physically able. But we don’t prepare for the future and don’t think about what will happen when we physically cannot work any more,” he said.
“So the way I try to approach things when looking at life and the community is empowering people with information; I want to inform individuals about economic awareness and also about the importance of getting involved in the businesses improvement districts, the community board…”
Anthony also is a member of the local chapter of the NAACP, where he serves as chairman of economic empowerment; he is vice chair of education and youth and economic development for Community Board 3; he is a member of VIDA; and a member of 500 Men Making a Difference.
Anthony also still plays semi-pro football with the Brooklyn-based Five Star Football League.
“Bed-Stuy is transforming, it is no longer do or die. We are so rich with history and pride, but it’s also getting more hip; the younger energy is making it even better,” he said.
“Understanding your purpose is about the legacy that you leave. You have to leave something for your family, your community… something that lives on. Because what is it to gain the world if you cannot make the people and community around you better?
“That’s my purpose; that’s what I live for.”