Newly Created Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth seeks to close the racial wealth gap through home ownership

February 16, 2022


Down payment assistance fund expected to generate $100,000 in wealth for 500 Black and African American families in Denver

Mary Gerlach: Senior Brand & Integrated Marketing Manager, Builds

DENVER — First-time Black and African American homebuyers in the Denver metro area can utilize up to $40,000 in down payment assistance through the newly created Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth. Since its soft launch in September 2021, the Dearfield Fund has provided down payment assistance to more than 40 homebuyers and plans to support another 500 homebuyers in the next five years.

Some of the most persistent racial inequalities in Colorado are not just gaps in income but gaps in wealth. Centuries of discrimination and exclusion have prevented Black families from acquiring and passing on wealth, and so the wealth gap between white and Black families with kids can be as large as 100 to 1. The most powerful tool to building and passing on wealth is homeownership. 

“Despite the fact that many Black and African American families have the income and credit to qualify for a home mortgage, a great majority of qualified Black families do not buy a home because they lack the wealth needed for a down payment,” said Mike Johnston, President and CEO of Gary Community Ventures, which launched the Dearfield Fund. “The Dearfield Fund represents a first-of-its-kind solution to make sure that Black families who are ready to buy a home can get the down payment support they need to build intergenerational wealth.”

To be eligible, Black and African American first-time homebuyers must plan to buy in the Denver metro area and use their home as their primary residence; have a family income of roughly $140,000 or less per year; and receive a conventional mortgage loan through participating lenders. Colorado’s largest locally owned bank, FirstBank, is the anchor mortgage lender for the program, given their growing commitment to racial equity and multicultural banking. The Dearfield Fund is also actively expanding partnerships with other mortgage lenders.

FirstBank is committed to creating a more equitable, inclusive environment for all,” said FirstBank CEO Jim Reuter. “Part of that commitment involves prioritizing communities in need of better access to financial resources. We know Black and African American families represent the least likely ethnic/racial group to own a home compared to their peers, and we know homeownership can change a family’s financial trajectory for generations to come. The Dearfield Fund represents just one way we’re aiming to close social and financial inequities among communities of color.”

In addition to borrowers’ personal down payment contribution of at least 3% of the home price, the Dearfield Fund provides up to $40,000 in down payment assistance. Upon selling or refinancing, buyers repay the down payment assistance plus 5% of the home’s appreciation, mainly to cover the cost of operating the Dearfield Fund. The Dearfield Fund has partnered with Impact Development Fund, a non-profit community development financial institution with strong experience in similar programs to help service clients throughout this process.

Named after Dearfield, Colo. — a historic Black-owned town established in 1910 — the Dearfield Fund extends the vision of town founder Oliver “O.T.” Toussaint Jackson, who believed the key to Black and African American communities owning their future was unlocking the door to their own homes and property.

“Today, the median wealth for a white family is $170,000 compared to just $18,000 for a Black family,” said Santhosh Ramdoss, Vice President of Impact Investing at Gary. “Addressing this racial wealth gap requires us to dismantle the structural inequities that have been imposed upon Black communities, especially when it comes to ownership and asset building. The Dearfield Fund is part of a movement to create restorative capital tools that can help Black families build wealth and achieve financial mobility”

To learn more about the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth, including complete eligibility guidelines and a wealth calculator, visit

About Gary Community Ventures

Gary Community Ventures partners with our community to reshape the arc of opportunity for Colorado kids and families. We leverage business, policy and philanthropy to break down the biggest barriers to opportunity and co-create breakthrough solutions for those who need it most. As we listen with humility to our community, partners, and each other, we learn together to drive action that guarantees School Readiness, drives Youth Success, and stimulates Family Economic Mobility. Whether we’re growing solutions that already exist, building solutions that don’t yet exist or changing the policy landscape to expand opportunity to those who need it most, we dare to be bold, working urgently with our community and partners to deliver a future where all Colorado kids can grow up healthy and reach their full potential.

About FirstBank

FirstBank began providing banking services in 1963. Today, it’s known as an industry leader in digital banking and has grown to be one of the largest privately held banks in the United States, maintaining more than $25 billion in assets and 110 branch locations across Colorado, Arizona and California. FirstBank offers a variety of consumer deposit accounts, home equity loans, mortgages, rental property loans and a full range of commercial banking services, including business financing, commercial real estate loans, treasury management and more. Since 2000, FirstBank has been recognized as a top corporate philanthropist, contributing nearly $75 million and thousands of volunteer hours to charitable organizations. The company is also unique in that a large portion of its stock is owned by management and employees, giving employees a financial stake in the bank’s success through its Employee Stock Ownership Program. MEMBER FDIC.

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