Campaign to Eliminate a Billion Dollars in Debt To Launch This Weekend

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. today announced that The Billion Dollar Challenge website will be launched during the opening night of the dfree® Lifestyle Weekend Symposium on October 19th, 2012 at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG), located at 771 Somerset Street, Somerset, NJ.

The Billion Dollar Challenge ( is a national initiative with the objective of leading families to pay down one billion dollars in consumer debt. The Challenge emerged out of the dfree® financial strategy, which was first introduced to a nationwide audience in the special airing of CNN’s documentary Almighty Debt and featured its author, Rev. Soaries, Senior Pastor of FBCLG. Soaries is partnering with a number of contributors and sponsors on the effort, including Sun Life Financial, HomeFree USA, and entertainment, sports and business notables including actor and author Hill Harper, actor Tisha Campbell, WNBA All-Star Cappie Pondexter and BCT Partners Chairman & CEO Randal Pinkett. Black Enterprise is a national media partner for The Billion Dollar Challenge and will host a “Wealth For Life” debt pay-down group as well as contribute personal finance and money management content on the site.

“According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, American consumers are carrying $11.44 trillion of debt not including mortgages. Although this debt is actually decreasing, high levels of consumer debt still plague the country; furthermore it is a threat to family stability, mental health and financial security. Millions of people are drowning in debt and looking for relief,” said Soaries, who is also an independent director of Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and the author of dfree: Breaking Free From Financial Slavery. “The Billion Dollar Challenge is being offered as a motivational strategy and online tool to create a new culture of personal financial responsibility,” he added.

The Billion Dollar Challenge is an effort to enable individuals and groups to set debt reduction goals and encourage one another to reach them, via a socially enabled web site. Users set up a profile, set their debt reduction goals and track their progress toward reaching them. While individual financial information is protected, the site aggregates the progress of all users toward the collective goal of eliminating a billion dollars in debt. A paydown calculator on the home page of the site adds up payments as they are entered by the users, so that everyone can see collective progress toward the billion-dollar goal.

“Our mission at Black Enterprise is to help our audience to achieve ‘Wealth for Life,’ via maximizing their earning power, building successful businesses and effectively managing and growing their finances,” says Black Enterprise Senior Vice President Alfred Edmond Jr. “There’s no way for our community to achieve that objective if it’s mired in debt. That’s why we joined The Billion Dollar Challenge as a national media partner.”

As part of the two-year anniversary celebration of the CNN special feature Almighty Debt, the new website for The Billion Dollar Challenge will be unveiled during a Friday night presentation at the dfree® Lifestyle Weekend Symposium — a free, two day event that will celebrate the progress that many churches and groups from across the United States have made helping their members attain financial security.

“By joining The Billion Dollar Challenge, not only is a person taking a concrete step towards their own personal financial freedom, but they’re joining with thousands of people around the country moving towards the achievement of our billion dollar challenge goal,” notes Soaries. “This tool is unique in that regard — there is nothing elsewhere like it.”

Established in 2005, dfree® is a national economic empowerment movement involving individuals, churches, student groups, community organizations and credit unions. With a grassroots approach that mobilizes people to use existing resources for managing and using money, the dfree® strategy is delivered through education, celebration and support.