Vice President & Director of Business Impact
U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp.
President & Co-Founder
Dream Builders 4 Equity
Lafayette High School
Webster University, BS, Business Administration, MBA
Describe your work and current role with U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation.
At U.S. Bank CDC, I lead a team that is responsible for developing and implementing business strategies to advance the social impact of U.S. Bank’s investments across all lines of business throughout the country. As a result, we enhance existing products and develop new products to close gaps in economic outcomes for women, people of color, and low-to-moderate income communities. To ensure we are driving towards equitable results, my team is also responsible for measuring the social (non-financial) impact of CDC investments.
You also co-founded a non-profit called Dream Builders 4 Equity. Tell us about its mission and work.
Dream Builders 4 Equity is a nonprofit organization I co-founded with Michael Woods in 2016. Our mission is to provide youth with the necessary skills and resources to escape poverty, build wealth, and invest in their future through real estate investments and entrepreneurship. In our program, youth from underserved communities and under-resourced schools rehab homes in low-income communities within the City of St. Louis. As the students are building the skills to rehab homes, they are also earning financial ownership in the properties – as each property is sold, the students receive 30% of the profits allocated through scholarships. In addition, the students journal their experience, which is published into a book that is 100% owned by the youth. To date, we have served over 60 students and created over $200K in wealth directly earned by the youth.
Working in financial education and equity, how do you measure success—are there benchmarks or is progress a moving target?
Children born into low-income areas with fewer resources are expected to have poorer health outcomes and persistently remain in poverty than more affluent children in a zip code a few miles away. Only 34% of people who were persistently poor as children are consistently connected to work or school between the ages of 25-30. We see similar inequities in economic outcomes for black families – nearly 1 in 5 black families have a zero or negative net worth, which is twice the rate of white families. Through my work at U.S. Bank CDC and Dream Builders, these are the key metrics I aim to improve. The measures are due to many factors, including a lack of financial education, access to affordable capital, and systematic racism. Economics is only one spoke in a wheel to address these inequities.
At Dream Builders 4 Equity, we directly address these factors by equipping each student with a bank account and financial education mentors to assist them with managing their paychecks. Also, we prepare our students for careers after Dream Builders by supporting them with resume building and interview skills, with a goal of 100% job or college placement for our youth.
All of your professional work and volunteerism involves community building or development in some form. What brought that work into focus for you?
My lived experiences of growing up in the Lewis Place neighborhood, which has a household income of $22,000 and a higher vacancy rate than 98% of other neighborhoods in the state of Missouri, has driven me to leverage my time, talent, and treasure to invest in similar communities and youth that faced comparable challenges as myself. While pursuing my undergraduate degree at Webster University, I had the opportunity to intern at Cushman & Wakefield as a commercial real estate intern. As I progressed in my career, I sought out greater opportunities to make a meaningful impact in low-income communities, which led me to U.S. Bank CDC. The experience in community development finance provided me with the ideal position to couple my passion with professional expertise.