Dream Builders 4 Equity [DB4E] has received a nice gift it can bank on.

Midwest BankCentre has donated its building at 3529 N. Broadway to the nonprofit, and DB4E will transform the site into its headquarters, a community resource hub, and collaboration space for the Hyde Park community.

“We are immensely grateful to Midwest BankCentre for believing in our mission and backing our efforts in such a transformational way,” said DB4E President and CEO Michael Woods.

“We are proud to create beautiful homes for first-time home buyers and to help St. Louis youth build the skills to pursue careers in construction. Midwest BankCentre is forever integral to our success by gifting us a place for DB4E to call home. The bank’s gift ignites a growth opportunity for DB4E.”

Orvin T. Kimbrough, chair and CEO of Midwest BankCentre, said the transaction is part of “our mission.”

 “The donation strengthens our impact on helping local communities thrive through access to opportunity and capital. It also amplifies our dedication to shared prosperity in partnership with nonprofits doing great work in our region.

“We look forward to DB4E’s continued impact on helping the promise of our youth blossom into lifelong skills that pave the way to home ownership and neighborhood rejuvenation.”

The bank building, which was the original home of the Bremen Bank and Trust Company, has stood in St. Louis’ Near North Riverfront neighborhood since 1928. While it now operates the building, DB4E has

reserved space for Midwest BankCentre to retain a branch there.

“We view our new headquarters as a symbol of DB4E’s commitment to Hyde Park and North City,” Woods said.

“Our new home will house our financial literacy courses, training for new and longtime homeowners, neighborhood meetings, our summer academy, youth employment, our chess program and more. As we raise additional funds, we plan to add dormitories for the apprentices we serve.”

Sean Spencer, executive director of Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation (TGNCDC) knows the value of a similar Midwest Bank Centre donation and helped bring the bank and DB4E together.

In 2018, Midwest BankCentre donated 1.9 acres in the 4900 block of Gravois Ave. valued at $1.63 million to TGNCDC for development of affordable senior housing near Bevo Mill. 

The bank’s donation to DB4E is valued at $570,000 and includes the bank building and land parcels totaling 1.25 acres. DB4E plans to build 15 new one-bedroom apprentice dormitories to be leased to young adults employed by DB4E for its home building and repair program.

“Providing access to quality housing for our apprentices during a critical time in their development and supporting their transition to living independently provide a strong launch for their path to success,” Woods said.

“Our new home will be the training ground not only for construction skills but also for learning to become productive, financially literate adults who will be inspired to help others follow in similar footsteps.”

DB4E was established in 2016, and offers workforce development courses and hands-on opportunities that teach trainees ages 16 to 24 about construction, personal finance, and real estate investing.

“In our first six years, about 75 participants have completed training and made progress toward the organization’s goal of renovating 50 properties in the Hyde Park neighborhood by 2025,” Woods said. “Through partnerships with local minority contractors, trainees obtain equity in the form of scholarships once properties are sold. That ownership model creates a sense of value and pride.”

Participants also serve local senior citizens with free home repairs and landscaping as part of their training and community service. Trainees keep a journal to chronicle their yearlong training and contribute selections to a book that is sold, participating in the proceeds.

Once Woods and DB4E land a trainee, they most often keep them as they head toward career opportunities.

“Our goal is to tackle the vacant home epidemic plaguing the St. Louis region by hiring minority contractors and high school youth to do large scale, community-led developments in neighborhoods that have been historically divested, transforming them into thriving communities where residents can live out their full potential,” Woods said

“Our 95% retention among participants demonstrates success in encouraging and uplifting our young people. We see a reflection of ourselves in them, and our young people can build pride and confidence as they see a reflection of themselves in us.”

A campaign to raise resources for transformation of the bank building is underway. To donate and learn more about DB4E visit www.dreambuilders4equity.org, or www.facebook.com/mark.butler.9022662/videos/10109831000378390.