+
upworthy
Capital One Impact Initiative

He was a struggling kid. Now he's a successful career man. Here's how.

True
Capital One Future Edge

Daniel Jones never had it easy. Before he was 18, he'd lost his mother and any chance at a stable home life. Then he had to change schools.

Jones, who was living with his older brother at the time, was reaching a breaking point. His brother had three children of his own and Jones knew that, family or not, his sibling couldn't take care of him for long. He also knew he needed to get back into school as quickly as possible.

He had two choices: either go to school near where he lived, or fib on his paperwork and go to a school that would push him towards a better future. But there was another problem — the school that he wanted to attend was across town.


Even though Jones got in, he couldn't apply for transportation privileges because that would reveal he was living out of district. That didn't stop him.

Most days, he only had enough money to take a city bus across Richmond, Virginia, one way. After a full day at school, he walked seven miles back to his house where he'd have just enough time to do his homework and start preparing to do it all over again the next day.

[rebelmouse-image 19397679 dam="1" original_size="700x394" caption="Photo by Austin Nicomedez/Unsplash" expand=1]Photo by Austin Nicomedez/Unsplash

Despite all that, Jones has no regrets. “If I were to go to the other school, I wouldn't be where I am today," he says.

That walk home from school ended up leading him to a program that changed his life.

“I saw a little white, short bus, at the middle school which is right next door [to the high school]," Jones recalls. “One day I walked up to the bus and I asked them, 'What is this?' And they said, 'it's the Boys & Girls Club.'"

So Jones signed up for the Boys & Girls Club, but he wasn't planning on joining any after-school activities. “That bus brought me within a mile of my house," he says. “I started using the transportation."

Despite his initial plan, he found himself getting involved in the Club, and eventually a counselor recommended Jones for an internship with Capital One's Catapult program — a five-week training course for youth who have the potential but not yet the skills for professional careers. Catapult is an organization supported by Capital One's Future Edge initiative — an effort focused on helping people succeed in a digital economy by advancing skills for the 21st century, small business development and financial well-being.

Catapult's mission is to provide opportunity youth—young adults who are high school graduates ages 18 to 24—the chance to be great with the skills, experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their full potential through professional training, financial education, and workplace mentoring.

The goal is to equip participants with the skills and knowledge to move from minimum wage jobs to impactful careers with a focus on entry-level employment at Capital One.

Jones wasn't sure how effective the program would be at first.

“The first thing that came into my mind was internships aren't paid," says Jones. “And then when they let me know that the internship was paid, I didn't think about a career, I didn't think about development, nothing like that, I just thought, hey, I can make money doing this."

As someone who's had to fight for survival from a young age, Jones didn't have the luxury of thinking about his financial future. All he could think about was right now. And right now he wouldn't mind spending five weeks learning about financial well-being in order to collect a paycheck.

So, the day after he turned 18, Jones joined the Catapult program. It's a decision that he says has made him a better man, and not just in terms of business savvy.

Through the Catapult program, Jones connected with the program's facilitator, Jonathan Bennett, training associate at Capital One, who he says made it clear that if Jones was going to build a strong future, he was going to have to start thinking about the long term. Suddenly, Jones started to see all of the possibilities open to him for the first time.

“My mind changed from trying to get a check to thinking, hey, this could be a career that I could do for the next 10, 20 years of my life," recalls Jones. “It could give me the money to start my own businesses, do the things I wanted to do, and change peoples' lives."

For Jones, learning to take control of his finances felt like a whole new world. "People who come from my background, they say, 'make enough to survive.' We don't ever hear, 'you need to make enough to make investments, you need to make enough to be able to build your own business from the ground up.' That kind of knowledge is a blessing."

At the end of his training, Jones was offered a job at Capital One, where he's currently a Senior Fraud Coordinator.

Photo of Daniel Jones. Photo via Capital One.

What's more, he joined Knolls Community Corps Council, which centers around volunteering in the community — something he'd never thought he'd do before. Jones, who knows the pain of losing a parent, is working with a local foster group to plan an event for the kids.

He's also looking forward to something much more long term. Since joining Catapult, Jones has learned to drive, gotten his license and bought a car. Now he plans to go to college, earn a degree in Health Administration and get an MBA. His goal is to launch a business that makes hospital food better. It was inspired by his mom and grandma's comments about hospital food when they were hospitalized before passing away.

Now Jones is taking what he's learned and giving back to the people around him, starting with his friends and neighbors.

He helps his neighbors with financial advice, gives them tips on how to interview, and even spruces up resumes. Most of the people he's helped have gotten the job they wanted. He's making sure that those he cares about know that they, too, can focus their future on "more than just tomorrow."

Being part of the program has also changed the way Jones looks at the world. "I wasn't very optimistic," notes Jones. "Jon Bennett helped me mold into a smart business planner, and a good agent, but, more importantly, he made me a better man altogether."

Financial capital is important, Jones says, but social capital is priceless.

Catapult also helped Jones build a sense of community, so when he's giving back, he's not doing it alone.

Catapult graduation ceremony at Capital One's 1717 Innovation Center in Richmond (Daniel Jones is second from left; Kyle Jacobs is kneeling in the center).

One of Jones' friends is Kyle Jacobs, a 22-year-old who started a non-profit for underserved youth after joining Catapult. Before the program, Jacobs was living in an abandoned house without running water. He'd left college and, due to a large amount of debt, was unable to pursue his goal of joining the police academy.

Jacobs didn't even know that he owed as much money as he did. Financial well-being had just never been part of his education.

During training at Catapult, Jacobs learned how to create a budget and manage a credit card.

“A lot of the problems I was having my whole life were based around money," says Jacobs. "The Catapult program not only taught me all of the important things like credit, but it also taught me how to manage my money when I started making money."

Joining Catapult, Jacobs says, helped him avoid a dangerous path. It helped him build a social network. He views the people with the Catapult program as family. And now that he's working at Capital One as a Senior Fraud Intake Representative in Richmond, Jacobs wants to help others achieve the same things he has. He's already started working on creating his own non-profit.

Kyle Jacobs at his desk at Capital One.

“It's me finding kids that were in my same situation and teaching them the basic life skills that they aren't gonna learn from their parents," says Jacobs. "Because a lot of them aren't necessarily concerned about graduating and getting a job. They're more concerned about surviving."

Jacobs is working with six children right now and, like Jones, is passing the skills that he's learned in the program to the youth he mentors.

“I really want to broaden their perspective on things," he says. “I'm taking them to financial well-being classes at the Capital One café in Richmond's Carytown neighborhood. Teaching them how to network. I'm helping them build their small businesses."

Both men want to use what they've learned in the program to transform the community around them — to show that a different future isn't just a dream; it's within grasp with the right tools and guidance.

"People tend to say, "Hey, I can change the world," says Jones. "That's really broad. People from my community think they can't change their own world, let alone someone else's.

“I want to instill that mindset of if you put your best foot forward, if you set your goals, if you put in the work, you can always achieve whatever goals you want to achieve in life," he continues. "I want to help people develop in a way that they don't just think about tomorrow, but they think about the next five years from now, next 10 years from now."

This could be the guest house.


Inequality has gotten worse than you think.

An investigation by former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj is still perfectly apt and shows that the problem isn't just your classic case of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

Keep ReadingShow less
via Wikimedia Commons

Craig Ferguson was the host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS from 2005 to 2014. He's probably best remembered for his stream-of-conscious, mostly improvised monologues that often veered from funny observations to more serious territory.

In 2009, he opened his show explaining how marketers have spent six decades persuading the public into believing that youth should be deified. To Ferguson, it's the big reason "Why everything sucks."

Keep ReadingShow less

Gen Xer shares some timeless advice for Gen Z.

Meghan Smith is the owner of Melody Note Vintage store in the eternally hip town of Palm Springs, California, and her old-school Gen X advice has really connected with younger people on TikTok.

In a video posted in December 2022, she shares the advice she wishes that “somebody told me in my twenties” and it has received more than 13 million views. Smith says that she gave the same advice to her partner's two daughters when they reached their twenties.

The video is hashtagged #GenX advice for #GenZ and late #millennials. Sorry older millennials, you’re too old to receive these pearls of wisdom.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.

Keep ReadingShow less

The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep ReadingShow less

One of these things is not like the other.

For fantasy fans, it truly is the best of times, and the worst of times. On the bright side—there’s more magic wielding, dragon riding, caped crusading content than ever before. Yay to that.

On the other hand, have you noticed that with all these shows, something feels … off?

No, that’s not just adulthood stripping you of childlike wonder. There is a subtle, yet undeniable decline in how these shows are being made, and your eyes are picking up on it. Nolan Yost, a freelance wigmaker living in New York City, explains the shift in his now viral Facebook post.

The post, which has been shared nearly 3,500 times, attributes shows being “mid,” (aka mediocre, or my favorite—meh) mostly to the new streaming-based studio system, which quite literally prioritizes quantity over quality, pumping out new content as fast as possible to snag a huge fan base.

The result? A “Shein era of mass media,” Yost says, adding that “the toll it takes on costuming and hair/makeup has made almost every new release from Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu have a B-movie visual quality.”

He even had some pictures to prove it.

Keep ReadingShow less