Owning a Piece of the American Dream

September 1, 2023

Owning a Piece of the American Dream

PERSPECTIVES | With Aisha T. Weeks

The Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth, honors the ingenuity, innovation, hope and determination embedded in the hearts of people who traversed uncharted territory for the opportunity to OWN a piece of the American dream.

In 1910, Oliver “O.T.” Jackson, joined by his wife and seven other Black families, set out to establish Colorado’s first Black homestead – Dearfield. The land was harsh and the future unknown, but this small group of pioneers was in search of life, liberty and happiness. O.T. was a businessman turned farmer who believed that in order for Black people to own their future, they must own land and property.

Visiting the historic site of Dearfield today – where just three structures remain of a town that once boasted 300 families, a school, two churches and a restaurant – I can’t help but imagine the ingenuity, innovation, hope and determination embedded in the hearts of people who traversed uncharted territory for the opportunity to OWN a piece of the American dream. 

More than a century later, at a time when the median Black family in the U.S. has amassed only 10% of the wealth of the median white family, the Dearfield name and O.T.’s vision live on in the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth. As a private equity impact fund, we are catalyzing a movement to build Black wealth and close the racial wealth gap through homeownership. 

I have spent my career at the intersection of lending, racial equity, financial inclusion and housing development.

Today, as the Managing Director of the Dearfield Fund, I am motivated by the understanding that existing federal policy interventions, race-neutral solutions and charitable donations alone will not close the racial wealth gap.


Channeling the ingenuity of Dearfield’s first homesteaders, the Dearfield Fund quietly launched in July 2021 with a single loan for $40,000 in down-payment assistance. In the last two years impact investors, philanthropists, asset allocators and allies have helped invest $9 million in first-time Black homeowners and we have closed on more than 150 homes. The Dearfield Fund, incubated by our founding investor Gary Community Ventures, is now on a path to scale and sustainability as our own independent organization – thanks to a variety of investments.

When I accepted the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability on behalf of the Dearfield Fund in May, I spoke about the need to shift the narrative of racial equity from solely a moral imperative to one that acknowledges the economic impact of and business case for dismantling systemic barriers to financial inclusion. When investors activate their balance sheets and invest in Black communities they see a financial return and meaningful social impact. Together we can catalyze economic development that dismantles long-standing barriers to racial equity and financial inclusion. 

I am honored to share the Dearfield Fund’s impact to date and our vision for the future. Throughout our impact report video, you’ll hear from homeowners, who are the heart and soul of the Dearfield Fund, as well as those of us who are working behind the scenes. You’ll catch a glimpse of the movement we’re building together.


Aisha T. Weeks

Under Aisha’s leadership, the Dearfield Fund has provided more than $5 million in downpayment assistance to first-time Black and African American homebuyers in the Denver metro area. During Aisha’s tenure as Managing Director, the Dearfield Fund has raised $9 million in its initial round of funding. Aisha has also partnered with local and national housing stability leaders, led the development of a wrap-around services program to help homeowners on their wealth-building journey and established lender underwriting criteria.

Learn more about Aisha >

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