While many NFL players spend the offseason unwinding after months of intense physical strain and time away from home, New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland is spending his offseason in the classroom — as a professor. This past semester, Copeland returned to his alma mater, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, to teach a course in financial literacy.
A 2013 graduate of the university’s prestigious Wharton School where he focused on entrepreneurship and business management, the 27-year old professor joined longtime Penn faculty member Brian Peterson to teach the school’s new urban studies course “Inequity and Empowerment: Urban Financial Literacy,” after first sharing the idea with Peterson last year at Penn’s Alumni Weekend.
Every Monday this past semester, the 30 undergraduate students in the class learned from Copeland and Peterson about everyday financial situations not often taught in school or even at home, such as investing, buying a home or car, and good versus bad debt. An expert in real estate investing and flipping houses, Copeland is eager to elevate the importance of financial literacy on a large scale.
“I want to make financial literacy cool,” Copeland said. “...This should be a requirement for everybody. There’s no reason why I should have sat in a classroom for 16 years and learned how to use my TI-84 and how to do the cosine of a 45-degree angle, but I was never taught about buying my first house or renting.”
During the course, students not only learned the class material but they were also tasked with teaching it to local high school students. As one of their final assignments, the class shared the knowledge they had gained throughout the semester by teaching 50 students from several area high schools the fundamentals of budgeting.
Known for saving nearly his entire $1.75 million annual salary every year, Copeland is a champion for financial empowerment, especially for those relegated to the bottom of the economic ladder. For many, Copeland’s leadership is helping to light the dark path out of generational poverty and onto the bright road to financial freedom.