Statements of Support

Community Members

Kristin Forde

Nine years ago, I began exploring the possibility of homeownership. I was working three low wage jobs. I had no savings but met a lender who went to bat for me. She acquired three separate down payment assistance loans which made it possible for me to purchase a very small house on the east side of Madison. One year later, my One City scholar was born in this sweet home.

In May, I decided to merge households with my partner. As I realized what the sale of my house would mean for me – elimination of student loan debt, equity in my new house, plus money in the bank — I knew that I could not make a deposit in my account without giving a portion of my net proceeds to your organization. Because, while I faced significant economic hurdles before building equity, the privileges my whiteness has afforded me – not only as I navigated my first mortgage approval – but throughout my entire life and lineage — is undeniable. In fact, privilege is too soft a word. Because my family’s privilege, granted through settler colonialism, is built upon theft, violence, exploitation, and exclusion. This is not a donation. This is a tiny step toward repair.

I personally benefit every day from the culture and resilience of Black communities. And as I settle into my beautiful new home, situated in a historic neighborhood where my great grandparents settled 100 years ago – my commitment to reparations and visionary community development feels more rooted and expansive than ever.

Thank you for the work that has gone into this pilot program. I hope to continue conversations with you about its growth.

Saran Ouk
City of Madison Business Resource Manager

The OWN IT program truly helps families build generational wealth with a holistic approach to homeownership. Sara Alvarado and her team have done an excellent job in creating a program that helps to educate people on financial literacy and the barriers people of color have faced when it comes to homeownership. This program also provides down payment assistance for the participants which can help open doors and eliminate barriers. Finally, this program has been created by experts in the community who are collaborating and together are helping to help build generational wealth in our community.

Jack Sanders
Madison resident

Photo courtesy of Jack

I heard about Own It on the Black Oxygen podcast and really loved your model of intentionally investing in Black families without gatekeeping the money offered.

My parents recently helped me buy a condo here in Madison and I asked if they would be willing to make a donation to Own It in my name because of the tremendous privilege of financial help from my parents as a disabled person living on SSDI who could not otherwise afford to purchase a home. I also told my realtor about your ambassador program, and will continue spreading the word about Own It to my friends and neighbors.

As a white disabled queer person I am aware of how much privilege and oppression profoundly shape all of our lives. Whenever I am accessing something that maintains or improves my quality of life, I try to leverage that as an opportunity to share, and to invite others to join me.

Thank you for the important work you do!

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Jonathon Ferguson profile photo

Jonathon Ferguson
FG Financial / Own It course instructor

Home ownership is a key part of the ‘American Dream.’ It can provide financial security and independence — two things that Blacks in America have been systemically blocked from experiencing. The Own It program increases access to home ownership through financial education and capital, both of which are needed for individuals and communities to achieve financial prosperity. Furthermore, systemic changes can’t be made by continuing to use the same practices that supported housing discrimination for many years. To get new results, we must try new things. The Own It program’s innovative approach helps to change the status quo in the real estate and bank lending industries.

Simone Lawrence
One City Schools staff

The program is a great way to open the doors for Black families and give an opportunity that is few and far between currently in Madison. It is very informative and I am excited to be a part of opening my mind to great possibilities

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Real Estate Professionals

Kathy Bartels profile photo

Kathy Bartels
Realtor, Stark Company Realtors

I’m so excited about the OwnIT: Building Black Wealth program! Educating and making available down payment funds to help lay a solid foundation through home ownership to black and brown families, to help educate on building generational wealth, and to be part of something that truly is making a difference in closing the racial wealth gap, I’m honored to be an ambassador of this program! You can be also!

Lashawne Hunt profile photo

Lashawne Hunt
Real estate professional, OWN IT Ambassador, First Weber/Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate

Homeownership remains the principal way most families build generational wealth in this country. Children who are raised in family-owned homes have a financial and emotional safety net that helps propel them into prosperity and success as they become adults. Black and brown families who were historically denied homeownership have been ensnared in a multi-generational cycle that has locked many of them out of much of the American economic system. The OWN IT program will be the first step in closing the Black, brown, and white homeownership gap which is a critical indicator to be a fair, society with equal access to opportunity for all.

My passion in life has always been helping individual achieve their ultimate goal. Becoming a real estate agent, I knew I wanted to see more people like me owning a home. Disentangling the racial homeownership gap will require changes across the entire housing ecosystem to address entrenched structural barriers. As an OWN IT education facilitator, I’m given opportunity to work with and educate families on the home owning process and watching each one of them achieve their homeownership dream.

Ali Kane profile photo

Ali Kane
Realtor, Stark Company Realtors

I believe Own It has been very impactful so far within the community! The need for assistance towards affordable housing is ever-growing and tackling it in all of the different ways is so important. I love that Own It not only provides the grants, but also supports the education for financial literacy and competency. Knowledge is POWER and building your own wealth and pride in homeownership is so important for a stronger community! Love the ability to directly impact my neighbors within Madison!

Sherry McKee profile photo

Sherry McKee
Realtor, Stark Company Realtors

I am so proud to be an ongoing supporter of Own It. Their mission of providing education and down payment funds to members of our community who have not had this access in the past is vitally important to helping a new generation build wealth and stability through homeownership. With so many great causes out there it can be overwhelming, but I love that I was able to easily set up automatic contributions with each closing, It’s rewarding to know I am helping Own It make an impact.

Chris Stark profile photo

Chris Stark
President, Stark Company Realtors

I can’t say enough positive things about Own It and the difference they are making in our community. I’ve always felt any mission to empower people to change their lives for the better is a mission worth pursuing and supporting. It is inspiring to hear about those who have gone through the Own It education programs and earning financial support for the down payment of a house. After all, it is shown that owning your own home can be one of the biggest long-term wealth-building assets, and it also gives us a place to call home. This can positively impact not only current Own It participants but also their future generations. The ripple effect will be felt for many years to come.

Dave Stark profile photo

Dave Stark
CEO, Stark Company Realtors

Of all the initiatives I’ve seen over the decades trying to help the Black community realize the dream of home ownership, few have the clarity, focus, and effectiveness of the OWN IT program. The fact that it targets aspiring homeowners not only with financial support, but actual education to better equip them for the opportunities and responsibilities of ownership sets it apart. While we all would like to make change on a global scale, sometimes working with families directly, and giving them real, vested interest, makes all the difference. Kudos to everyone involved for this important work.

Dylan Thomas profile photo

Dylan Thomas
Realtor, Stark Company Realtors

OWN IT: Building Black Wealth is an important organization in the Madison Area focused on creating opportunities for black/brown families to buy homes. The racial disparities in home ownership are grossly astonishing, and we absolutely need to do something about it. This program educates and empowers black families to create generational wealth, which will be a foundation on which future generations can thrive from. I am proud to be a supporter and ambassador of OWN IT, and urge others to find a way to contribute as it is necessary for the strengthening of our community as a whole.

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Banking Professionals

Sara Whitley profile photo

Sara Whitley
Johnson Financial Group

This is kind of a big deal. People involved in OWN IT aren’t just talking — they are doing! I’ve been in a world of talkers for so long, it feels amazing to be a part of a group of doers. I want to make change happen. And it’s more than just down payment assistance — they are educating and inspiring. It’s honestly great being in an organization with like-minded people who have the ability, connections and knowledge to make the change!

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