Dream Builders 4 Equity is transforming the Hyde Park neighborhood in northern St. Louis and serving as a model for closing the racial wealth gap.
ST. LOUIS – Call it Extreme Makeover, the northern city edition.
A house in the Hyde Park neighborhood has just been put up for sale and to say it was a repairman is an understatement.
“It’s a vision,” explained Michael Woods.
Woods isn’t really a developer or an entrepreneur, but he knows a lot about building lives.
In 2016, he co-founded the nonprofit Dream Builders 4 Equity. It allows secondary school students, once their homework is completed, to carry out construction work.
“They make $15 an hour,” Woods told 5 On Your Side. “Not only do they make $15 an hour, but they also profit from the sale of the property. We share the profits with them. »
Woods, an entrepreneur and author of four books, says he overcame the hurdles of growing up in a low-income neighborhood and wanted to pass that on to kids like 15-year-old Malik Lyles.
“I was expecting maybe to see a few houses and maybe paint a little bit. It’s actually better than I thought,” Lyles said.
“When I came to the program they welcomed me with open arms,” added 19-year-old Chelsea Manuel. “Everyone is loving and caring and they really care about you and what you want to focus on in your life.”
Dream Builders buys run-down homes for pennies in an effort to renovate both neighborhoods and these kids.
“When I was 15 and 16, I didn’t think all of this was possible,” said 20-year-old Carvon Ward.
We first met Ward when he was just 16 years old. He is now a project manager and a graduate of Ranken Technical College.
“I’m proud of myself,” he said.
Dream Builders has now completed 25 projects with more in the pipeline.
“Our goal is to figure it out here and do it right,” Woods said. “We want to be that initial investment here that transforms this neighborhood and then go out and do that in other communities.”
Give children the tools to succeed. Dream Builders 4 Equity. Restoring homes and hope.
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