Jake Peavy’s accomplishments in the world of Major League Baseball are incredible: back-to-back championships on two different teams, a Cy Young Award and three All-Star Game appearances. Being a pitcher at the highest levels of baseball comes with a big paycheck, and one of Jake’s biggest regrets is that he didn’t know more about what to do with the money he was making.
“Financial literacy isn’t talked about the way it needs to be, especially in sports,” Jake says. “When you talk about the income that professional athletes are making, and a lot of these kids are coming straight out of high school [like me] … You can even get an incredible college degree, become a doctor or lawyer, and still not have been taught anything about financial literacy.”
A financial pitfall
Living in what Jake describes as the “MLB bubble,” he found it easy to forget certain day-to-day problems, leaving his financial decisions up to those he thought were more experienced.
“When you become so dependent on other people, you can be taken advantage of,” says Jake. Unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what happened. In 2016, he discovered that a financial advisor had siphoned over $15 million of his savings in a Ponzi-like investment fraud.
“You can try to make responsible decisions by putting the right people in charge of managing your finances, but at the end of the day, it came down to me not having the education to understand everything that was going on,” Jake says.
Understanding that much of his problem came from lack of knowledge, Jake decided to make financial literacy education one of the missions of his charitable organization, the Jake Peavy Foundation.
“When you go through something like that, you feel this level of responsibility,” Jake says. “There needs to be education as early and as often as possible, so [kids] will have the tools to make the right decisions and be an asset to their communities and families.”
Paying it forward
Last October, Jake’s foundation launched “Focus Forward Financial Scholars,” an initiative to provide grade school students with the basics of financial education. The program covers budgeting needs, credit and more.
“It’s getting them to start conversations with their parents and teachers,” Jake says. “I would love for this to be part of the official curriculum starting at the youngest age possible. It just gets their minds in the right place.”
After an initial rollout at the Boys & Girls Club of South Alabama, the Jake Peavy Foundation is in the process of implementing “Focus Forward” in the public schools of Mobile, Boston, San Francisco and San Diego.
Between his charity work, which also encompasses art, music and sports mentorship for at-risk youth, his professional recording studio and raising four boys, Jake’s life is “going full steam ahead.” He credits his supportive family in helping him rise from humble beginnings and thrive in the face of setbacks, and he hopes to pass that on to his kids and mentees.
“I was told I can’t, but I’ve lived an absolute dream through hard work and incredibly supportive family and friends. As a foundation, we try and find people who are going through hard times and try to be that encouragement. You see so many people who have been dealt an unfair hand in life… but it’s never too late for a happy ending,” says Jake.