Orange Mound

Community land trust and Contractors University planned in Orange Mound

What’s happening: Memphis is one of six cities to share $3.2 million in grants intended to help close racial gaps in homeownership and entrepreneurship, this thanks to Living Cities and its Closing the Gaps Network. The money will help create a community land trust and develop a Contractors University in the historic Orange Mound neighborhood.

What it means: A community land trust, a nonprofit landholding organization that creates affordable homeownership opportunities, will be developed in Orange Mound. Also planned is a Contractors University, which will provide BIPOC residents contextual technical assistance, contractor training, and better opportunities for winning business contracts with the city.

Why it’s important: “Homeownership and small business ownership are two of the proven ways to help any group of individuals build wealth to support themselves and their families,” Joe Scantlebury, President and CEO of Living Cities, says in a statement. “Gaps in wealth between people of color and white people persist and it will take coordinated, direct action by leaders in cities to turn back the on-going legacy of systemic racism. We believe that removing barriers to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color owning homes and small businesses is key for our nation’s future.”

Who’s behind it: Living Cities is “a collaborative of 19 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions working to close racial income and wealth gaps in American cities,” according to the organization itself, and its Closing the Gaps Network is a multi-year initiative to do just that. This current round of grants was made possible by the Wells Fargo Foundation and Citi Foundation.

What they’re saying: “We are grateful for the financial investment and opportunity to partner with Citi Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, and Living Cities through this equity-driven affordable housing initiative,” Mayor Jim Strickland says in a statement. “We are also excited to work alongside entrepreneurs of color to co-create business opportunities, refine strategies, and help in the development of a winning growth strategy that will contribute to building stronger communities in our city through education, training, and mentorship.”
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