St. Olaf College | News

George Floyd Fellowship: The 1st Percentile Coalition

Portrait of Isaac Coutier '22
As one of this year’s recipients of the George Floyd Fellowship for Social Change, Isaac King Coutier ’22 developed the 1st Percentile Coalition, which aims “to combat overwhelming poverty rates specifically present in marginalized communities by focusing on financial literacy, financial growth, investment strategies, and strategic methods to increase savings.”

Last fall the St. Olaf College Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion announced the inaugural recipients of the George Floyd Fellowship for Social Change. Throughout this academic year, each of these four students — Isaac Coutier ’22, Tashonna Douglas ’21, Dezzy Newell ’22, and Joshua Wyatt ’21 — developed a project focused on advancing racial justice, social justice, and equity. As their fellowship wraps up, they are each sharing in their own words what inspired their project and the impact they hope it has had.


The 1st Percentile Coalition is a collective group that shares the common goal of financial literacy, financial prosperity, and financial opportunity for all of its members and beyond. My original motivation for creating the coalition stemmed from the longtime aspirations I’ve had to not only be financially stable, but to be financially prosperous and reach the goal of being in the top 1 percent of wage earners in the U.S. I don’t see being in the top 1 percent of income earners in this country as the be-all and end-all, but I do see it as a lofty yet attainable goal that maximizes the perspective as well as potential of our group members.

The wealth inequality in this country has grown tremendously over the last decade and even over the last year. When we direct our attention toward marginalized communities, the disparity only grows. The combined wealth of all billionaires increased by over $1 trillion over the course of the pandemic (March 2020- January 2021). This was a 39 percent growth rate in less than one year. The middle class as well as the majority of marginalized communities did not reap similar gains. Therefore, we must adapt the techniques used by high net worth individuals; this, in turn, will close the gap as well as put ourselves in a position to have the opportunity to be on the privileged side of the spectrum.

To do this, the 1st Percentile Coalition strives for growth in all of its members by working to develop marketable skills that will benefit us financially. The group meets in person weekly to facilitate knowledge and work collectively to become better at different practices. This includes, but is not limited to, learning and exploring methods of creating LLCs, investing, day trading, foreign exchange markets, cryptocurrency, real estate, and so on. Information is gathered by all group members to foster discussion and collectively further the group’s overall knowledge of a subject.

We view every member as a teacher as well as a learner. The group takes learning into our own hands by gathering as much valuable information from the most credible and accomplished teachers in the various fields. Informative videos, books, chart analysis techniques, and critical thinking are all utilized to further our knowledge and expertise. The 1st Percentile Coalition is big on not being captivated with simple theory — we desire to bring our skills to the market and see if we can be profitable. A practice we have utilized while avoiding risk includes methods like paper trading, which allows us to use fake money but still trade on the live stock market. Methods like these give our group the real-world experience we need to later monetize this skill and produce another stream of income.

The group looks toward successful role models in the Black community who have already accomplished the skills we’re set on acquiring. Seeing people who have already achieved a certain level of success doing the same things we do gives us hope and motivation to continue our journey into financial freedom. Personally I am an economics major with an emphasis in finance. This degree is valuable in the sense that it can produce a job somewhere down the road; however, the major and emphasis does not necessarily focus intently on monetizable skills that can directly lead to more income. Because of this I think the coalition is that much more beneficial, not only to myself who is in the process of receiving a degree in the business sector, but especially for those who aren’t in this sector.

Through the journey into financial prosperity, I believe that there are many sacrifices and decisions that must be made to obtain certain levels of success. Because of this, a certain level of determination, resilience, and courage is needed to achieve all of this. I strongly believe that through these sacrifices we can promote resilience and consistency that will translate to many facets of our life that goes far beyond money itself. The 1st Percentile Coalition believes in the progression and growth in all aspects of a person’s life — including financially, spiritually, emotionally, as well as growth pertaining to relationships.

At the moment the 1st Percentile Coalition is simply one group of young people, striving for greatness. The hope is that this coalition can be expanded to meet the needs and promote growth for people all over this country so they too can accept the fact that they can and should be part of the 1 percent.

Read more about the George Floyd Fellowship project developed by Coutier, a tight end on the St. Olaf football team, on St. Olaf Athletics.