Keeping up with Jones (39749)

Saquan Jones beat the odds and decided not to be a product of his environment or let struggles dictate his life. The 33-year-old Brooklyn resident has stepped up to the plate in his community to make changes and give back.

In the community, Jones teaches financial literacy to adolescent males, helps out local businesses and even has his own online web show. With aspirations to go into public office in the future, his journey to where he is now wasn’t easy.

Jones grew up in Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in North America, where his single mother raised him and his sister. He said that while they weren’t well off, they always received help from others.

“We didn’t have everything we wanted financially,” he said. “But we had a lot of camaraderie with people in Queensbridge and our relationships substituted for what we didn’t have.”

Graduating from Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Manhattan, Jones received a scholarship from the United Negro College Fund and attended the historically Black Virginia Union University.

However, during his freshman year of college, he had a son, and while many would see this as a red light to success, Jones not only stepped up to his responsibilities, but continued his education.

“My mother pressured me to stay on top of everything. She went back to school to get her degree with children, and there was no excuse for me,” he said.

Earning an undergraduate degree in political science, Jones went on to obtain his MBA in finance from Pace University. He currently works as an auditor for Columbia University.

Aside from his day job, he’s constantly on the move, making efforts to improve the environment around him. Residing in Brooklyn today, he’s taking neighborhood issues of Bed-Stuy head on.

With the recent groundbreaking of the new Barclay’s Center in Downtown Brooklyn, Jones recognized that several small businesses were being overlooked. He has established a network between the businesses as well as the “Saquan Sent You” program in which businesses agree to give a discount to residents in exchange for free promotion.

He said, “We are going to different businesses in the district to establish a foundation with the new residents in the neighborhood. There are a lot of Central Brooklyn businesses, and a lot of new residents moving into Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights are not shopping in Brooklyn. As a result, we’re losing a lot of potential businesses.”

Along with improving the economy of the neighborhood, Jones is educating youth, especially young men, in financial literacy. He teaches the importance of credit at Boys Town in Fort Green.

“I teach them that having bad credit is a form of incarceration,” he said. “No one will touch you if your credit is bad.”

Jones is expanding his message to the masses about his views on politics and other issues. He recently established his own web show titled “Across the Aisle,” which aims to allow people of color to give their views on politics and other social issues. It’s produced on a weekly basis.

Looking ahead toward the future, Jones wants to run for public office. Getting his first taste of the political arena last year, he ran for City Council to represent Brooklyn’s 36th District, but lost to reigning incumbent Al Vann. Jones has his sights set on trying again during the 2012 election for the same seat. An issue he wants to focus on is education.

“I’ve been politically active since high school,” he said. “I’ve worked on a number of campaigns, and politics is in my blood. I’ve seen the importance of good legislation and good leadership. My story gives me the opportunity to speak volumes.”