Stories Invincible: Playing to win the game of financial literacy

3 mins read
Jaamal Na'im, Camden, New Jersey resident teaches kids to play chess in his afternoon club.

Uplifting Camden’s reputation requires various skills and expertise from its diverse community.

In addition to being labeled as one of the nation’s most dangerous cities, Camden is also branded as one of the nation’s most impoverished (research suggests those issues go hand-in-hand).

Enter Jamaal Na’im and his project, “Operation: Combat Financial Illiteracy,” an initiative to address information gaps in Camden by equipping natives with knowledge about money management.

Na’im is also an avid chess player. We met him on a Tuesday evening at the Cramer Hill Community Center, where he hosts a weekly chess club for kids.

Photo by: Mani Live.

He says there are lessons in financial security that one can learn from one of the oldest and most widely-played strategy games of all time.

“Controlling the center of the board is a key concept of chess,” Na’im says. “Chess is about financial advantages.”

“Financial strategy or planning lends itself to becoming more materially advantaged,” He says. “To be financially literate is like the knowledge of controlling the center of your board and other principles of chess.”

Photos by: Mani Live (left), and Justin Harris (right).

Na’im, chief accountant and founder of downtown Camden’s Safe and Sound Stewards, is a fellow for “Stories Invincible” — one of the Center’s latest community reporting initiatives that feature restorative narratives produced by and for communities of color in South Jersey.

The 28-year-old South Jersey native hosted a series of financial literacy workshops this winter and presently creates multimedia projects on an array of fiscal-related topics.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge FoundationDemocracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit