Real Community Development from the Roots

Since the Great Financial Crisis of 2007 – 2009 tremendous development has taken place across the U.S. in minority owned communities. Despite having the most to gain from being the hardest hit during the financial crisis, the families that have owned stores and built lives in these communities have been the least to prosper from this community investment. According to Pew Research, between 2007 and 2009, home equity for black Americans decreased 12 percent. 

Meanwhile, several studies have shown that wealth factors into providing beyond basics like food and shelter. Wealth creates a safety net for emergencies, a down payment for a home or seed capital for a new business. Take Brooklyn, NY as an example. From 2010 – 2019 the property values have increased by 58%, but home ownership among black families since 2001 has decreased by 5%. 

Translation: The capital invested in these communities hasn’t benefited the people who made the community an attractive investment initially. Instead these citizens’ plight has become investor’s profit. There’s enough blame to go around, from this demise of wealth occurring to black families while under two terms of leadership of our country’s first black President. You could rightly criticize the unjust financial system which provided 0% interest rates to corporations to make historic purchases their own stock back while lending the same money to consumers at historically high credit card interest rates. However, now isn’t a time for blame, it’s a time for action.

Action must be swift and just by leaders who recognize the strategy for developing community wealth, have experienced the drawbacks of inequality and recognize the generational impact from a strong family. For over 10 years, I have gone beyond recognizing the potential of the people in my community and have invested in their future wellbeing. This has been through a number of formal and informal ventures.  I’ve mentored our youth, sweated with leaders of our community and provided homes for working families.

Today, I announce a bigger initiative that will lift these same people beyond what they could do themselves. A holistic public and private partnership that invests the spoils of capitalism into the fertile ground of our communities to provide potential gains beyond financial returns.

This initiative is called the ASK Ventures. It’s a non-profit that provides opportunity to deserving individuals independent of their backgrounds. As a citizen who has lived the impact of a criminal history I want to provide the path to achievement. My education and strong career provide the basis that have allowed me to rise beyond my circumstances. My network has buoyed me during challenging times that I couldn’t stand alone. Today, I’ll further leverage these resources in Ask Ventures.

Here are the objectives of Ask Ventures:

  1. Provide an advisory platform for urban and minority start ups that provides access to capital and to advice
  2. Invest in real estate in developing communities
  3. Support candidates that traditional Venture Funds would overlook due to criminal histories.


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