NBA athletes Robert Covington and Luol Deng partner with Own Our Own to initiate community development project in the south side of Chicago
Own Our Own, an inner-city focused real estate fund, today announces its first Chicago-based project in partnership with Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington and former Chicago Bull and 2-time All-Star Luol Deng. Former players Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Matt Barnes are also investor-partners. The impact investment project aims to transform a South Side of Chicago neighborhood through an affordable housing and community development initiative that will improve quality of life through increased public safety and access to critical social services.
The project entails plans to uplift a 143-unit multifamily property in the West Pullman neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. The initial phase of the project will focus on enhanced safety measures, community gardens, art projects, and an outdoor playground. The second phrase will focus on renovating and converting physical spaces for a range of community resources, such as a work space for local entrepreneurs and organizations providing wraparound services, a dedicated STEM facility, community library, and health and wellness space.
Own Our Own and its partners invest in undervalued and underinvested inner-city communities, rooted in the belief that access to safe and affordable housing is a fundamental driver to achieving social equity. Own Our Own is the real estate investment arm of Our Opportunity, a philanthropic venture whose mission is to facilitate thriving Black communities with sustainable economic growth. As Own Our Own builds or acquires, improves, and offers community members affordable housing, Our Opportunity supports the broader ecosystem of critical services needed to build and sustain healthy communities.
“We understand the challenges that long-term underinvestment in many black communities and cities has created: intergenerational poverty and trauma, violence, and health and educational gaps. And we’re not afraid of them,” said David Gross, Own Our Own founder and CEO. “Our model leverages private capital, and philanthropic and public sector support in partnership with community-based organizations to fill the specific areas of need in a given community. We want to help define a new normal of concentrated, sustained investment in inner-city communities, led by people who care deeply about them.”
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Foundation is partnering to help fund physical fitness and mentorship via sports initiatives, and Sherrie Deans, Executive Director of the NBPA Foundation and Acting COO of the NBPA, will be joining as an anchor member of the Our Opportunity Advisory Board. “As a union representing arguably the greatest concentration of black male wealth and cultural influence, it’s both heartening and timely to see our players proactively invest in community impact, and have an opportunity to directly support their endeavors,” said Deans. “Through Own Our Own, our players are investing in integrated solutions to community building that will seek to foster thriving and holistic communities. We are excited to be a part of the effort.”
Own Our Own is also proudly partnering with the Chicago Urban League. With a century-long legacy of empowering African Americans in Chicago, the League brings a breadth of experience and expertise to guide Own Our Own in thoughtfully executing its local impact strategy. Specifically, Own Our Own will gain the benefit of the League’s robust education programming, with an emphasis in STEAM as well as the League’s convening power. “We value the alignment in mission with Own Our Own, and hope this new launched initiative motivates others to show their support by investing in Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods,” said Karen Freeman-Wilson, Chicago Urban League President & CEO. “We look forward to helping Own Our Own maximize its community development strategy, with the hopes of ultimately reaching more communities in the South and West Sides of our city.”
An integral aspect of Own Our Own’s strategy is partnering with prominent personalities who have a connection with the community and can engage local partners to ensure community alignment. The partners are both investors and partners in vision, leveraging their platforms to amplify the message and narrative of direct investment in inner cities.
“Having spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bulls, I have strong ties to the city and care about communities like the West Pullman,” said Deng, who retired from the NBA as a Bulls’ power forward in October 2019. “This project is an opportunity for me to invest in a community I care about and help catalyze transformative change.”
Own Our Own will also offer the opportunity for individuals within a community to invest alongside these prominent local personalities and partners through the Own Our Own Fund, which is set to launch in November 2020. The intention behind the crowdsourced investment platform, OwnOurOwn.com, is not only to democratize opportunities for Black people to own real estate in their own neighborhoods, but also to empower them to shape the future of their own communities.
“My roots are in Chicago and ensuring the West Pullman community has the greatest potential to improve long-term health, wellness, economic, and social outcomes is a personal mission,” said Covington. “This project promises to make a lasting impact on the neighborhood’s social infrastructure and help community members to achieve greater economic equity.”
The original article can be found here.