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Lifestyle • Career • Business • Education • Religion

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His parents named him Shomari Akil which means intelligent warrior who uses reason. Working daily to maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses helps Shomari stay laser focused on improving the financial literacy and generational wealth of those around him. He and his younger brother (Rashaan Asim) grew up on the Eastside of Buffalo not far from the Cheektowaga border. Shomari described his parents as “old school with a massive side of hood”. His father did whatever he had to do to contribute to the household and encouraged Shomari to do the same while his mother was the exact opposite. She kept a steady job and encouraged him to stay in school and get good grades which in turn would lead to earning “good money”. The dichotomy of his parents’ views shaped Shomari into the man he is today.


Growing up he often got into fights at school and admits he was a regular in the Principal’s Office because of his smart mouth which frustrated his mother to no end. Shomari started at Seneca High School, had a stint at Alternative High School and ultimately graduated (on time) as a Bennett Tiger in 1995. His mother made it clear that college was not optional. Shomari applied to several colleges and was admitted to Buffalo State College. He earned a Degree in Industrial Technology and Quality Assurance Engineering where he founded the National Society of Black Engineers and served for two years as the organization’s President.


United Parcel Service provided Shomari with his first professional job as an industrial engineer. He faced many challenges as there weren’t many local Black engineers he could lean on for support and found that he had to constantly prove himself as a smart and capable engineer.


Shomari currently resides in the DMV area with his wife of nearly 30 years and their two children. Together, the husband and wife team founded a charter school and operate several organizations which serve more than 700 children and families. Shomari serves as the co-founder, CEO and Chairman of Equity Now, Inc., a charter management organization. The James family also manages Legends Charter School and a small real estate portfolio in Buffalo. In addition, Shomari serves as the Executive Director of Strategy Deployment and Business Transformation for Howard University. Shomari’s diversified portfolio also includes part-ownership of a clothing line ( as well as his heavy investments in the stock market.


Mr. James is motivated by his desire for “the positive progression of the culture” and views generational wealth as key. His future goals include owning more property in the DMV area, specifically land, to build a community/neighborhood for his family which would include a few clubhouses. Another goal is to start an angel investment company that focuses specifically on providing seed money for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) startups that experience financial distress within the first five years of business for reasons outside of their control.


With all that he has accomplished thus far, there is no reason to think that Shomari James will not check everything off his bucket list...including leaving a legacy of influencing others to be their best selves, become as wealthy as possible and give back to those in need.


Whatever free time he finds is spent with family and friends and enjoying excellent champagne after a great meal. His guilty pleasure is bingeing TV series. Shomari also enjoys reading and recommends every read “Think and Grow Rich” and “Rich Dad Poor Dad”.

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