CEO brings financial literacy to high school athletes

ORANGE, NJ — Jeff Pierre is trying to bring financial literacy to high school athletes, and he’s using Clarity Sports to get the job done.

Pierre, a 2007 graduate of Orange High School, was a former student athlete for the Tornadoes, where he played on the junior varsity basketball team his freshman and sophomore years before changing his trajectory to learning about business and finance during his junior and senior years. This fueled his desire to become an entrepreneur after he was done with school. Although there weren’t any programs to help foster his growth, he was able to get valuable skills through internships with Fortune 500 companies throughout his college years at William Paterson University, from which he graduated in 2011 with bachelor’s degree in business marketing.

“I knew almost immediately in college that I would one day begin to work towards building my business,” Pierre said.

His road to that goal has been fruitful. He went to work in the field of risk management in the financial industry, which gave him a unique insight, as he began his career with Merrill Lynch. But his love for sports and his community drove him to give back to Orange Township, so he took his nine years of experience to create Clarity. Clarity has four wings that are independent of each other: Clarity Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that works within Orange Township volunteering and donating time to the community in various projects including scholarships and financial literacy programs; Clarity Investments, created to invest in real estate, as well as provide jobs to people in the community; Clarity Sports; and Clarity Apparel. 

“It feels like a marathon,” Pierre said, when asked about the rapid growth of his business.

Clarity Sports was launched to help middle and high school athletes with planning for life after sports. 

“With the love and passion that I have for sports, with the knowledge that I have in finance, I figured that I would be able to provide the younger generation with information that I didn’t know or what wasn’t being taught in high school for student athletes, everything from, if you do make it to the pros or if your dreams get cut short of the pros,” Pierre said. “If you make it to the pros, you will need to learn how to save and manage your money. That’s also the same if you don’t make it to the pros. If you do not make it to the pros or you come across a career-ending injury, what is your plan B? You would always need to be prepared for the future and life after sports.”

Pierre has presented his sports financial literacy program twice, prior to the pandemic outbreak, stressing the fundamentals of financial literacy to students in grades seven through 12. The middle school part of his presentation focuses on the basic information of planning for the future, while the high school student part of his presentation is geared toward introducing finances for college. He stated that he was inspired by the late Ermias J. Asghedom, better known as hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle, who famously created businesses and invested in his community, as well as created a foundation that gave back to those who needed help, before his death in 2019. Pierre drew upon the examples of Roc Nation Sports Agency and Klutch Sports Group, which both offer financial literacy programs for their athletes who are advancing into the professional arena.

“We are not looking to become a sports agency,” Pierre said. “We are looking to stay away from the predatory practices that are commonly seen among the sports industry. Our goal is strictly to aid high school athletes with the basics and fundamentals of financial literacy.”

One of the many highlights for Clarity was being able to give the Malcolm “Ambitious” Bagley Memorial Scholarship to a deserving Orange High School football player.

“We awarded $1,100 to T’naj Benjamin, a 2020 graduate of Orange High School, who is now attending and playing football at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison,” Pierre said. “I am proud to have used my nine years of experience in the financial industry to help the next generation of athletes.”