Durham, NC: Protecting the block, while Unlocking Assets.

The most powerful way to create generational wealth is through home ownership. We teach the community how to maximize and retain property.

Photo of Talib Graves-Manns
4 17

Written by


  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
  • My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States


  • Man

Where are you making a difference?

Durham (27705) |North Carolina, Programs will also be offered virtually (Nationwide).

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise
  • Development & Prosperity

Date Started


Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)


  • $100k - $250k

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)


Twitter URL


LinkedIn URL


1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.

My project will take place in the Walltown Community of Durham NC. The founder of Walltown is George Wall, my great-grandfather – he worked as the janitor of Trinity College which later became Duke University. Because of his hard work and community centered approach he became a pillar in the community which led to the community being his namesake. When I returned to the community in 2015 I was saddened to see how much this previously Black majority owned community had been gentrified and many of the Black home-owners had sold their properties for cents on the dollar, and lost their property due to the significant increase in taxes. I then, pledged my time and resources to remedy the situation through education.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The racial wealth gap is still around and expanding because of systemic and social barriers that mis-educate and under resource Blacks to protect their single largest asset, their home (owned real estate). Solving this issue will create generational wealth which will reduce the current statistics where white households have 20 times the wealth of blacks [ {2011 Pew data} - Black Household Wealth = $6,000 versus White Household Wealth = $113,000].

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Primary Approach – Goal = Unlock Value. Our curriculum will teach residents the most current and innovative technology business solutions on how to maximize their property through the Sharing Economy (Ex. How to leverage Airbnb to generate income). Through services designed to unlock revenue for the underutilized rooms in the home, to the underutilized yard/garden space that may be ripe for a profit bearing community garden we will knock on every door in the community and provide ‘hands-on’ training for the residents. Ultimately this will provide homeowners with the data to get properties to "highest and best use”, which will generate revenue. Secondary Approach - Protect Your Home. Curriculum to understand budgeting (taxes, property up keep, improvements, living expenses, accessing home improvement capital), and estate planning (conveying assets). Solving against these approaches will increase likelihood of higher education, new entrepreneurial ventures, and overall increased quality of life. In addition to the curriculum we will provide asset financial protection, we will offer complimentary programs that educate consumers on the tech and innovation jobs of the future.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

Through our hands-on curriculum we will unlock hundreds of thousands of dollars for our homeowners. We have piloted our program with home-owners who were two months away from Foreclosure due to insufficient funds to make their mortgage payment. Through our hands-on approach we are able to make the home more financially efficient. Here is an example – Homeowner’s Mortgage is $900, and they are typically “short” during the winter/fall months approx $250 per month (due to unforeseen medical expenses and increased heating bill during the winter months). The market rate for one Airbnb room per night in the local market is $65, through the Airbnb platform the homeowner is able to generate enough money to pay their mortgage from simply renting out an unused room in their house only 6 times per month. We will continue to assist this homeowner so they can better budget across all expenses!

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

We are reaching the community by building our services directly in the community, whereas the model’s in other communities is to provide services to people in physical locations that require busing and/or commutes that that aren’t easily accessible. As a result many of the goodwill that entities create isn’t fully realized because the desired recipient doesn’t feel that the resources are designed to help them! Many times, the very people we are trying to help, end up alienated by location.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • ability
  • geography
  • race/ethnicity
  • age - youth
  • age - elder
  • socio-economic class

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

On a national level, there are only a handful of organizations who lobby with legislators for pro-housing/anti-gentrification, this is a much-needed tactic in the overall objective to protect assets. However, many times funding and resources are allocated to organizations that focus on stopping displacement, not on the retention of homeownership as means to generate wealth while also stopping displacement. Our approach is very direct and an solely focused on home-ownership preservation as a means to generating wealth.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

The "Durham, NC: Protecting the block, while Unlocking Assets." will be the first formal implementation of this curriculum. However, it is the 2nd significant community based education program that I have Co-Founded/Led. Over the past three years, through two organization Black Wall Street Homecoming (www.bwshomecoming.com) and The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (www.iecnc.com) we have impacted over 2,000 aspiring or current entrepreneurs, as well as provided an environment which has led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment and deal-flow.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

The primary strategy will be to start local (within the Walltown Community). We will knock-on doors, research property titles, and invite community members to Free workshops and one-on-ones to educate community members on the value of their property and strategies for preservation. As we test and grow, we will roll it out to other communities in NC. Additionally, we will host virtual workshops & one-on-ones to disseminate the education nationally. Ultimately, we will develop a fund that acquires property within gentrifying communities. It will serve as a community centric investment fund.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Organizing Conferences
  • Trainings, Consultation

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We have secured a 1,500 Sq.Ft facility in the heart of the Walltown Community. I am personally investing my capital into the development of the classroom space. Additionally, we have secured local and national partners to provide grant (including banks, CDFI's, Foundations and personal donors) for operational costs. The facility will also generate revenue from space rental to affinity organizations. The Ashoka Change Makers grant will service operational costs and outreach to community members.

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The team consist of Talib Graves-Manns, Executive Director (Full-Time). The work will be supported by a host of volunteers and professionals from the following backgrounds: Real Estate Brokers, Mortgage Counselors, Accountants, Economist, Real Estate Developers, Municipality Leaders, Professors, and local business owners.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

29 evaluations so far

1. Overall, would you champion this entry as a excellent example to move forward to the next phase of the challenge and become a semifinalist?

Yes, absolutely! - 89.7%

Yes/maybe - 10.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 86.2%

Yes/maybe - 13.8%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Is this entry IMPACTFUL on financial wellbeing?

Yes, absolutely! - 86.2%

Yes/maybe - 13.8%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry SUSTAINABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 65.5%

Yes/maybe - 31%

Maybe - 3.4%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. What are some of the HIGHLIGHTS of strengths of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 100%

Clarity of Model - 60.7%

Clarity of Writing - 57.1%

Idea Originality - 60.7%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 57.1%

Impact measurement - 25%

Impact Potential - 78.6%

Financial Sustainability - 42.9%

Team - 46.4%

Partnerships - 32.1%

Potential to scale - 42.9%

6. What are some of the areas for IMPROVEMENT of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 22.2%

Clarity of Model - 55.6%

Clarity of Writing - 44.4%

Idea Originality - 22.2%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 33.3%

Impact measurement - 100%

Impact Potential - 22.2%

Financial Sustainability - 66.7%

Team - 33.3%

Partnerships - 100%

Potential to scale - 44.4%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Janet Xiao

This is awesome, Talib! CEF is located on the West End in Durham and we've had similar thoughts around building financial security as one tactic in addressing the housing displacement that's taking place in our city. We'd love to connect, bounce thoughts, and explore opportunities for partnership!

Photo of Talib Graves-Manns

Coffee soon? I want to learn more about CEF. Whats your contact?

Photo of Janet Xiao

Just reached out to you via LinkedIn! Looking forward!

Photo of Naya F. Powell

As a resident in Durham I see value in this program. Happy to support.