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Can Wealth-Building Programs Both Prevent Displacement and Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap?

Can Wealth-Building Programs Both Prevent Displacement and Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap?

In recent years, the West End and Visitation Park neighborhoods of St. Louis have begun to see signs of gentrification. These historically Black communities are experiencing increased economic investment, rising rent and housing prices, and a growing white and higher-income population. Absent any intervention, these forces of economic development and chance could displace long-time Black residents.

However, one nonprofit community development intermediary and funder in St. Louis, Missouri, Invest STL, is piloting Rooted, Cultivating Black Wealth in Place, an initiative aimed at combating displacement in two historically Black neighborhoods. The Urban Institute is evaluating the program to assess its impact on displacement risk and wealth building. The analysis will also uncover financial planners’ role in helping beneficiaries pursue these outcomes. And if this pilot is successful, scaling it could help address the racial wealth gap more broadly. Click her to read the whole story from the Urban Institute’s blog Urban Wire.

Invest STL Plans for the Future

Invest STL Plans for the Future

“We are grappling with, ‘How do we plan for the future of our neighborhood and its economic prosperity, and its continued call for diversity and racial equity?’ At the same time as we’re doing this, how do we prevent things like displacement from happening?”

Treena Thompson is a resident of the West End neighborhood and board member of Cornerstone Corporation. She voices concerns that resonate with many residents in her neighborhood and neighborhoods throughout St. Louis. We grapple with these same concerns at Invest STL and walk with our partners to support them designing solutions, achieving their goals, and reaching their vision.

Partners like Cornerstone STL and Dutchtown South Community Corporation are working to increase access to affordable and quality housing, medical care for residents, ridership for public transit in neighborhoods and more. And, they’re doing things a little bit differently: they’re putting residents at the center of the community development process.

To learn more about Invest STL’s approach, who we are, and to hear more from our team and partners, dive into St. Louis Magazine’s Big Think story on us, click here.

Reflections On 2021

Invest STL offers our 2021 reflection from a place of gratitude and growth. We have come a long way as we set the tone for the journey ahead. 2021 presented our growing team and vision with the opportunity to look inward and cultivate our organizational place and personality within this story that we share with St. Louis and all her residents. We have been refining our identity, dialing in our purpose, carefully considering how we will go about this journey toward a St. Louis where every neighborhood is a chosen place to live, raise children and grow old. This is our vision and the touchstone for our newly developed Theory of Change, which gathers all of those internal efforts and systematically lays out our path forward. We will share some more elements from our TOC here, including our mission + guiding principles, which help keep us in stride as we step into our newly defined way of being. Download the Reflections On 2021.pdf to get the whole story.

Systems change requires all of us.

Systems change pictures a future where we do things differently and that’s how we get different results, lasting change, justice, and opportunity for every person. Stepping toward that future, here in St. Louis, are leaders from across a broad spectrum of activities designed to support our collective ability to enjoy an equitable and vibrant city. Leaders like our own Dara Eskridge at Invest STL, Leslie Gill at Rung for Women, Monique N. Bynum at UMSL Accelerate, Charli Cooksey at WEPOWER, and Julius B Anthony at St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature are helping set the tone for transformation. Hat’s off to your efforts! Learn more in this feature by Katie Powers in St. Louis Magazine.

Small Business LIFT — Additional Awards for capital + safety improvements

Invest STL’s additional awards for capital + safety improvements have made a substantial impact on the great majority of businesses that received the funds. 84% of the businesses that received the awards (47 out of 56) reported that they are still active and able to continue doing business as of July 2021. Download the Small-Business-LIFT-Spotlights.pdf to learn more and hear directly from the small business owners about the impact of these investments.

Invest STL recognized among national emerging leaders who champion community-led solutions

U.S. Bank Foundation invests $1 million to support emerging leaders and community-led solutions to address economic disparities. Annual Market Impact Fund to support 20 organizations and their leaders.

July 28, 2021U.S. Bank Press Release

U.S. Bank Foundation today announced a $1 million investment to 20 nonprofit organizations driven by a diverse group of exceptional emerging leaders who are focused on creating effective community-led solutions to the increasing economic disparities. 

Organizations are in both rural and metro communities and are focused on support for entrepreneurs and small business owners, workforce development programs and financial inclusion efforts for individuals and families as solutions to wealth building.

“We are dedicated to empowering our communities by listening to those with lived experience and supporting their ideas on how to address racial and economic inequities and creating lasting change,” said Reba Dominski, executive vice president, head of social responsibility at U.S. Bank. “In addition to the funding, we are exploring ways to support these leaders and organizations by creating points of connection and access as well as opportunities to build their networks. We look forward to learning from these leaders as we continue to work to break down traditional power dynamics in philanthropy.” 

emerging leaders

The emerging leaders recognized through nonprofit grant funding are: 

  1. Joy Briscoe, Executive Director of 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium (Waterloo, Iowa) is advancing generational wealth for the black business community.
  2. Erica DiMartino-McNertney, Site Director of Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) in Cincinnati (based in New York), supports justice-involved individuals in building career and financial stability.
  3. Jeffery Beckham Jr., CEO of Chicago Scholars (Chicago, Illinois), is empowering first-generation college students and students from low-income communities with the right mentors, resources, and opportunities to go to our nation’s best colleges and universities, graduate on time, and become Chicago’s next generation of leaders. 
  4. Luisana Victorica, Site Director of College Track (Sacramento, California) is more than doubling the rate of bachelor’s degrees for low-income and first-generation students.
  5. Lori Boegershausen, Director of Educational Access for the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (Nelsonville, Ohio) is strengthening community resources to meet the needs of Black Appalachian Ohioans.
  6. Arnella Williams-Foster, Community Coordinator of Nashville Business Incubation Center (Nashville, Tennessee) supports the development and growth of minority, women, and veteran-owned small businesses.
  7. Buddy King, Chief Operating Officer of Higher Works Collaborative partners with Initiative Foundation (Little Falls, Minnesota) to support training courses, seminars, and technical assistance for low-income and minority entrepreneurs.
  8. Whitney Peake, Board Member of Live the Dream Development, Inc. (Bowling Green, Kentucky) supports minority, women, and low-to-moderate-income small business owners.
  9. Anamaria Rocha, Executive Director of Mercado on 5th Inc. (Moline, Illinois) provides office space, bilingual small business workshops, 1-on-1 technical assistance and mentorship.
  10. Henry Jake Foreman, Program Director of New Mexico Community Capital (Albuquerque, New Mexico) provides business training that integrates Indigenous methodology.  
  11. Annamarie Dachtler, Executive Director of Olive Crest (Los Angeles, California) fuels economic stability and independence through transitional housing for vulnerable youth emancipating from foster care.
  12. Juan Navarro, Artist-in-Residence at Riverside Art Museum (Riverside, California) is rejuvenating store fronts to contribute to neighborhood vitality, safety and economic development.
  13. Ryan Quigtar, Executive Director of the Renton Innovation Zone Partnership (Renton, Washington) supports career immersion events for students from Title 1 schools through the Skyway Resource Center.
  14. Cesar Garcia, Executive Director of Southside Redevelopment Corporation, Canopy South (Omaha, Nebraska) is establishing a revolving loan fund to be utilized for workforce housing.
  15. Dara Eskridge, Executive Director of Invest STL (St. Louis, Missouri) cultivates opportunities for wealth building among households and small businesses to support equitable neighborhood development.
  16. Silvia Castro, Executive Director of Suazo Business Center (Salt Lake City, Utah) provides long-term support for low-to moderate-income entrepreneurs.
  17. Charis Blackmon, Executive Director of West Side CLT (Charlotte, North Carolina) tackles economic mobility through permanently affordable homeownership.
  18. Trina Fleming, Executive Director of Women Helping Women (Irvine, California) equips individuals with employer-in-demand skills.
  19. Keena Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Center of Economic Opportunity (Columbus, Ohio) provides women of color entrepreneurs equitable access to capital, connections and business know-how.
  20. Amalia Luxardo, Executive Director of Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona (Tucson, Arizona) provides oversight for the Communities for Philanthropic Justice Fund, which, in close partnership with community, cultivates and builds BIPOC leadership and relevant practices within grantmaking institutions.