$10,000 African American Study Abroad Scholarship


Did you know that the United Negro College Fund had a $10,000 scholarship to help Black students in the United States study at a University on the continent of Africa?

The Joseph A. Towles African Study Abroad Scholarship is named in memory of Dr. Joseph A. Towles, a black social anthropologist and specialist in the study of African cultures. Dr. Towles, a native of Virginia, earned his doctorate at the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

This makes me wish I was still in school so I could apply for this scholarship. I’ve been to twenty countries on five continents but I’ve never had the pleasure of studying at a university abroad. There are only three more days to get your application in. Hurry. This is a great opportunity.

African American Study Abroad Scholarship
United Negro College Fund
Deadline to Apply: Nov. 3, 2017
Award Amount: up to $10,000

By providing financial assistance for UNCF students to study at an established university within the continent of Africa, The Joseph A. Towles Scholarship will allow students to receive an incredible academic experience and exposure to the rich traditions within African cultures.

Click here to visit the United Negro College Fund’s page.

$2,000 Scholarship to Travel


After spending most of March in southeast Asia, I’ve traveled to 18 countries on five continents. Nothing has changed my life as much as getting out into the world and seeing that there are tons of ways to do things and the way I learned certainly isn’t the only, and is possibly not the best, way to do things. If you’ve been wanting to travel, this may be the best way to get started – with someone else’s money! Lol

I saw this on the Growing Up Bilingual Facebook page:

Explore the World travel scholarships: HI USA is awarding 4 $2,000 Explore the World scholarships this year to individuals who are 18-30, permanent U.S. legal residents, live or go to school in one of the 14 participating U.S. cities, and who plan to incorporate education and/or service into their international travels. Application deadline is May 15, 2016.

Apply here: https://www.hiusa.org/programs/travel-scholarships

Go for it!


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Ambassador for The Passport Party Project

The reason that I named my company Bigger Than Your Block is because I believe that people should travel and see the world. Towards that end, I’ve become an Ambassador for The Passport Party Project. That means that I will be helping spread the word about the great work that The Passport Party Project does in helping girls get their first passport and go on their first international trip!


Find out more about The Passport Party Project by visiting the website and liking the Facebook page.


Shay Visits Peru


Financial education speaker and author Shay Olivarria just returned from visiting her 10th country on her 4th continent: Peru. People always ask why her company is named Bigger Than Your Block and the answer is this trip.

The goal of Bigger Than Your Block is to show students, of all ages, that the world is massive and you can achieve any goal that you have as long as you work for it. Money has no intrinsic value. The only value money has is the value that we assign to it. Most people want more money, not to have more money but to do the things that we’d like to do. Money equals freedom. The place where some get confused is the idea that one needs more money instead of one needs to use the money that they have more efficiently.

Shay found a $300 round trip, including taxes, airfare on Avianca. The whole trip took 8 days, 7 cities and about $1,500. Not too shabby. She was able to spend a little time in:


Lima – Peru’s capital city.


Ollantaytambo – a beautiful, quiet town with lots of ruins.


Urubamba – a wonderful small town that’s close to the Moray ruins.


Pisac – know for it’s Sunday market and sun dial ruins.


Cusco – the major airport city to reach the Sacred Valley.


Puno – the city on the banks of Lake Titicaca.

Arequipa – the second (or third depending on what Trujillo is up to) major city in Peru.

It was a wonderful trip and Shay learned a lot about the different cultures that live there now and the cultures that lived there before the Inca. What countries have you been to? How did you learn that the world was Bigger Than Your Block?



Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. She has written three books on personal finance, including Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook”. Shay has been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, NBC Latino and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com


Passport Day 2012

Shay visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Osaka in 2011.

Why is there a photo of Shay standing in a train station in Tokyo? Saturday, March 10th is Passport Day! The company is named “Bigger Than Your Block” for a reason. We believe that travel is an integral part of education. We’re encouraging everyone to go get your passport tomorrow (even if you don’t know where you’d like to go or if you don’t have the money to pay for it) because taking that first step will start changing your mindset.

Officially, Passport Day is “On Saturday, March 10 only, apply for your U.S. passport at a Regional Passport Agency without an appointment. You will be able to apply for standard processing (4-6 weeks) or pay an additional $60 for expedited processing (2-3 weeks, door-to-door).”

Necessites un Passport de America?

Applying to a  get a passport is SUPER easy. You just bring your birth certificate, two regulation sized photos (get ’em at AAA for about $10), a photo ID and pay your fee. Beware: the office is going to take your birth certificate (they will mail it back to you with your passport). The whole thing will last about 5 minutes and you’ll end up with the ability to travel the world!

U.S. Dept. of State website:

First-time applicants


Minors (under 16)

Shay at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in 2006.

Now, Americans can get a passport (for the WORLD!) and a card to travel to Canada and Mexico for about $25. When I was a kid, I started a file with all the the places I wanted to visit. It took me a while to get started (I was 27) but I’ve managed to visit 9 counties on 3 continents. I wish I would have known it was this easy a loooong time ago.

Read more about it at:
I’m Black & I Travel
Los Angeles Times


Happy travels!



Financial Benefits of a “Gap Year”

After high school, many students are tired of attending school.

I know, I know… it’s a huge shock to us old fogies that after spending up to 16 years of their 18 years in some type of learning environment many students do not want to enter any kind of learning environment (trade school, college, etc.) for a little while. A “gap year” is a time for a student to travel, volunteer or work before they choose to start working toward future goals. Though having a student take a year off, a so-called “gap year”, may be upsetting to some parents, it really can be a rewarding experience in more ways than one. Students, listen up! Here are a few ways that you can benefit from delaying further education for a year:

#1 You’re world view will open up. You’ll become an out-of-the-box thinker that can contribute new and different perspectives to any discussion. Employers and business partners pay well to have people on their team that can contribute “fresh” ideas. If you think like everyone else, you’ll be like everyone else. Dare to have a different perspective and take the road less traveled, literally.

#2 You’ll better understand the bottom line. There’s nothing like trying to figure out how many pieces of bread you can buy with your last (choose your currency) to make money management come to life! Everything in life is a business negotiation. The sooner you start learning how to leverage money the faster you can leverage it well both personally and professionally.

#3 You learn to make decisions on the fly. Of course it’s good to weigh information, but sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the options and end up doing nothing. When you’re traveling you’ll have to decide which of the restaurants, or food stalls, you choose to eat at. You’ll have to choose your travel options deciding on cost and proximity to where you’re going. You’ll have to make some of these decisions with little-to-know information to go on and live with your decision. Employers like thinkers-and-doers more than thinkers-and-think-againers-and-still-thinkingers.

#4 You’ll mature. The fact of the matter is that many students really have no idea what they want to “be” when they “grow up”. Taking a little time off to travel, volunteer, or work provides the student more experience to make wise decisions about their future goals the options available to them to achieve them.

Taking a gap year can help students grow emotionally and provide experiences that can add value as employees.

5 Most Common Mistakes College Students Make

As students get ready to go back for the fall semester of college, I thought it would be a great time to take a moment and share some tips for saving a few dollars and getting started on the right financial foot. This is an article that I wrote for HBCU Digest.

Read the full article here.

Love my articles? Don’t forget to come out and see me as I drive cross country to spread simple financial literacy tips in a 1994 Ford Aspire.