Make a contribution to the OWN IT down payment fund!

About the Fund

We’ve raised over $350,000 and are excited to help at least 23 families with down payment funds in 2022. As more families sign up for the education program and apply for the down payment grants, we can increase Black and Brown homeownership in the Greater Madison area. Help us reach this goal by making a contribution!

Where do the funds come from?

Financial contributions come from community members, the real estate industry, and large corporations.

How can people in the community and businesses in the real estate industry and other sectors contribute to the OWN IT program?

We have developed a new business model where professionals in the real estate, banking, and financial communities can systematically contribute funds in a meaningful way to reduce the racial wealth gap and improve homeownership rates among Black and Brown families in the Greater Madison area. Our vision is for the community to serve as the family wealth that Black and Brown families have been historically denied through real estate homeownership.

Here are a few examples of how this model works in practice:

  • You or your company commits to contributing a percentage of quarterly earnings — or a percentage of commission checks or monthly bonuses — to the fund. By participating in our Realtor Ambassador Program you can start today!
  • Homeowners who are selling their property can contribute a percentage or specific sum of the proceeds of the sale to the downpayment fund at the time of closing. Pledge today to make a donation when you sell. You can work with your Realtor or the Title Company to have proceeds paid on your behalf at closing.
  • All Madison residents can engage their local communities in conversations around racial segregation, redlining, the wealth gap, and opportunities to challenge systemic racism. Discuss the importance of building Black wealth through homeownership with your neighborhood associations, workplace colleagues, religious congregations, and anti-racism and diversity, equity and inclusion working groups. Working together to raise awareness and making a contribution as a group is an important step in being an active agent for change.

Contact us ( to discuss your ideas for raising funds or how to maximize the impact of your contribution.

Is OWN IT a non-profit organization?

Currently, OWN IT is not a registered nonprofit. However, we are in partnership with Forward Community Investments, a registered nonprofit organization, and they help support the administrative work and allows all contributions to be tax deductible as a 501c3.

The team members of OWN IT are a passionate network of professionals in the real estate, banking, financial industries working in the Madison area.

You can submit your donation online or make out a check out to ‘Forward Community Investments’ and include ‘OWN IT program’ in the memo line. Mail checks to:

Forward Community Investments
Attn: OWN IT program
2045 Atwood Avenue, Suite 101A
Madison, WI 53704

Down Payment Assistance

Who is eligible to receive down payment assistance?

Funds will be available for families and staff at One City Schools to purchase real estate starting in 2022. Upon approval of their application, $15,000 towards down payment funds will be available for nine months (contingency free) while they search and negotiate on the purchase of residential single family or duplex, owner occupied property in the Greater Madison area.

Why is the program exclusive for families with children enrolled at One City Schools and school staff, and alumni?

The OWN IT: Building Black Wealth program is currently in a pilot phase to test the feasibility of this innovative new model. Limiting eligibility at this time allows us to test the model, learn and make improvements, and cultivate funding sources before expanding to a wider audience.

We are partnered with One City Schools to directly reach and serve our target audience: Black and Brown families in the Greater Madison area. A vast majority of families enrolled in One City Schools — about 85% — are families of color. While enrollment is not limited to families of color, this keeps the OWN IT: Building Black Wealth program in compliance with the Fair Housing Act which does not allow race-based down payment funding.

One City Schools puts a strong emphasis on supporting families with their two generation school model. They recognize the importance of a healthy environment and community on the development of children. The OWN IT: Building Black Wealth program is a natural fit with the types of forward-thinking, community-building educational opportunities that One City Schools provides to families. We are proud to partner with One City Schools during the pilot phase of the program.

How will OWN IT: Building Black Wealth ensure that Black families receive down payment assistance when One City Schools also serves white families and employs white teachers and staff?

The OWN IT: Building Black Wealth program is designed to serve Black and Brown families without limiting participation in the education program — or the opportunity to apply for down payment funds — to only people of color. This allows the program to maintain compliance with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits race-based funding. 

We strongly believe that all families can benefit from learning more about wealth building and homeownership, as well as the historical and ongoing barriers Black and Brown families face in building generational wealth through real estate.

Our workshops stress the importance for communities and all of its members to embrace and enthusiastically support financial models designed to expand wealth building opportunities for Black and Brown households who remain at a disadvantage in their ability to purchase a home. It is our belief that people completing the education course will honor the program’s intention to support Black and Brown families in their pursuit of owning a home.