Author: Sara Koci Scheilz
Published: Wednesday, 08 May 2019
Vercie Lark is on a mission to inspire a million millionaires. “People think I’m crazy,” he says. “It won’t happen in my lifetime, but it’s not hard to set the seeds in motion.” And he’s planting those seeds with Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City. As a former Executive Vice President and Head of DST Financial Services, Vercie has witnessed firsthand the great need for financial literacy and career education. This drives his dedication and passion to inspire and support Junior Achievement students.
While leading the financial services sector of DST Systems, Vercie reviewed the balances of millions of financial accounts and saw just how unprepared people were for retirement. “It opened my eyes to the problems people in America face,” Vercie shares. “Most people don’t get good financial advice early in their lives and they don’t have investments to secure their living.” Vercie spent time with executives in the financial industry and saw them struggle to solve this problem.
“I want to teach people to take care of themselves, to be philanthropic enough to take care of their families and communities, and to create businesses and new jobs that are self-sustaining,” Vercie says. Junior Achievement supports Vercie’s mission as he strives to empower youth with financial literacy and business knowledge.
When Vercie was in high school, he was involved in Junior Achievement through his electronics class. Vercie learned business principles as he and his classmates built products to sell at a JA conference. Years later, Vercie transferred those skills into his entrepreneurial business and also applied them to his day to day career. “Junior Achievement was a way to get engaged with something I was exposed to in high school,” Vercie explains. “I wanted to reconnect there and help spark in the minds of the youngsters that they can be an executive or start a business.”
Vercie recently presented financial literacy principles as a Junior Achievement volunteer at William Chrisman High School in Independence, MO. He encouraged students to see education as an investment in their future, empowered them to look at their own spending with a critical eye and ultimately helped them with practical tools for their futures. As he instructed students on investment principles, he told them, "If you start now, you can become wealthier than you can even imagine someday. I want you to become wealthy, come back to William Chrisman in your 40s and tell your story to those students. That's how we create real change in our communities."
Vercie came from humble beginnings but quickly learned that knowledge is the key to success. “My father said, ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ I took that to mean, ‘I did the best I could with what I knew.’” Throughout his career, Vercie saw examples of those who were ready for retirement and those who weren’t. When he was asked to be the executive sponsor of his organization’s young professionals network group, Vercie was overwhelmed with countless questions about career and finances from the group’s young members.
“I wondered, how can I take knowledge from my life and impart that?” Vercie’s answer was to write his first book, Make it Rain, a guide to increasing wealth and financial security. As he’s able to teach more and more people, Vercie looks forward to a financial literacy ripple effect. “If I can reach 5,000 people directly,” he says, “in a few generations, we’ll see a million millionaires.”
Junior Achievement is a forum for Vercie to have a direct impact on the next generation. “We’re catching young people at an impressionable age,” Vercie remarks. “If I can help these youngsters, that’s a good thing. I will spend my time trying to help these young people avoid the mistakes I’ve seen made, create a better life for themselves and be able to re-invest in their community.”
Vercie took the leap and made a difference with Junior Achievement. Today, he encourages others to do the same. “If you’re on the fence, give it a try,” he says. “You’ll get more back than you ever give.”
When you volunteer give back to Junior Achievement, you share priceless knowledge with the next generation. Every kid deserves a mentor in their corner. Share your insights and ensure a better future for everyone. Become part of Junior Acheivement today.