Short Film: Black Wealth Cannot Wait

Dearfield fund for black wealth | A Gary Community Venture

 In 1910, Oliver “O.T.” Jackson, joined by his wife and seven other Black families, set out to establish Colorado’s first Black homestead – Dearfield. The land was harsh and the future unknown, but this small group of pioneers was in search of life, liberty and happiness. O.T. was a businessman turned farmer who believed that in order for Black people to own their future, they must own land and property.

Visiting the historic site of Dearfield today – where just three structures remain of a town that once boasted 300 families, a school, two churches and a restaurant – we can’t help but imagine the ingenuity, innovation, hope and determination embedded in the hearts of people who traversed uncharted territory for the opportunity to own a piece of the American dream.

More than a century later, at a time when the median Black family in the U.S. has amassed only 10% of the wealth of the median white family, the Dearfield name and O.T.’s vision live on in the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth. As a private equity impact fund, they are catalyzing a movement to build Black wealth and close the racial wealth gap through homeownership.

Acknowledging that existing federal policy interventions, race-neutral solutions and charitable donations alone will not close the racial wealth gap, and channeling the ingenuity of Dearfield’s first homesteaders, the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth quietly launched in July 2021 with a single loan for $40,000 in down-payment assistance. In the last two years, the community behind this movement – impact investors, philanthropists, asset allocators and allies – have helped invest $9 million in first-time Black homeowners, allowing Dearfield to help first-time Black homebuyers close on more than 175 homes.

How it Works

In addition to borrowers’ personal down payment contribution, (at least 3% of the home’s price), the Dearfield Fund provides interest-free down payment assistance of up to $40,000 to first-time, Black homebuyers in Metro Denver.

Early Impact of the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth

When investors activate their balance sheets and invest in Black communities, they see a financial return and meaningful social impact. The Dearfield Fund is a testament to that ideal.

How Dearfield is Helping Black Women

After helping 150 families with down-payment assistance, Dearfield has sharpened its strategy to better serve Black women, who make up 60% of the fund’s borrowers so far.


CO.creator | Khadija Haynes, Community Activist

Khadija Katherine Haynes is a fourth generation Coloradan. She has experience working with multinational corporations; local foundations and nonprofits; and both candidate and initiative campaigns ranging from local school board races, statewide initiatives and referred measures to congressional and presidential campaigns. Her strategic community navigation solutions, policy development and legislative lobbying have proven fruitful for industries needing support from specific constituencies and communities of interest. She serves on numerous boards and has served in many political and governmental appointed positions throughout her career, including Chief of Staff to the Senate President of the 67th Colorado General Assembly, and the Policy Director during the 65th and 66th Sessions.

Director | Algernon Felice Jr, Gary Community Ventures

Algernon Felice Jr has been recognized nationally and regionally as an award-winning producer, having won a Chicago/Midwest Emmy® for writing, producing and directing a campaign that explores the humble roots of a historic business. He has also won multiple Wisconsin Broadcasters Association awards for his work in brand development and television production, and was featured on CNN for his filmmaking and cultural storytelling.

Producer | Mary Gerlach, Gary Community Ventures

Mary Gerlach is a writer, collaborator and optimist. As Senior Brand and Integrated Marketing Manager for Ventures, Mary is responsible for brand development and outreach for the breakthrough solutions that Gary Community Ventures incubates internally. Currently, Mary works closely with the teams responsible for the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth, My Spark Denver and MyFriendBen.

Producer | Aisha T. Weeks, Gary Community Ventures

Aisha T. Weeks is the Managing Director of the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth, an impact investment fund that seeks to close the racial wealth gap through homeownership. Under Aisha’s leadership, the Dearfield Fund has provided more than $5 million in downpayment assistance to first-time Black and African American homebuyers in the Denver metro area.

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