How does one build generational wealth and create equity in San Diego? For decades, low-income communities have faced lack of access to higher education and affordable housing.

Together, Urban League of San Diego County and San Diego Foundation are working to break down barriers to success through funding programs like Project Ready and the San Diego Black Homebuyers Program.

A Place to Call Home

Finding an affordable home in San Diego is an incredible feat. Median home prices range between $800,000 to $900,000 and rent has soared to nearly $3,000 or more for a one- to two-bedroom apartment in several areas of San Diego County. For members of San Diego’s Black community, buying a home is even more difficult due to unequal access to lending, racial segregation, discriminatory lending practices and devalued homes in Black neighborhoods, among other issues.

Urban League of San Diego County, a historical civil rights organization, first started to combat housing and job discrimination as part of a nationwide network of organizations.

“Our mission is really to represent those who are underrepresented in society,” said CEO of Urban League of San Diego County Al Abdallah. The nonprofit serves more than 7,000 clients per year in the region with services in health, education, workforce, advocacy and housing.

In partnership with San Diego Foundation, Urban League of San Diego County launched the San Diego Black Homebuyers Program in August 2021, with a goal of creating 35 first-time Black homebuyers in one year.

“We exceeded that goal and we’re into the 40s now,” Abdallah said. “You’re talking about building generational wealth with these families. We thought about before COVID, during COVID, after COVID – how are we going to get these people into homes with these rising interest rates?”

Abdallah credits the successful launch to the help of counselors, San Diego Foundation and other important partnerships in the community.

“I have had the pleasure of meeting some of these buyers. To hear them talk about what it felt like to celebrate the holidays in their own home for the first time in their lives – so many of them older adults – it’s just incredibly rewarding,” said Pamela Gray Payton, VP, Chief Impact & Partnerships Officer at San Diego Foundation.

The San Diego Black Homebuyers Program advances racial and social justice, and creates generational wealth for families in San Diego.

Ready for College, Work and Life

Not every student has the tools needed to succeed in life after high school. Urban League of San Diego County’s Project Ready program prepares students for college through academic support, life skills and exposure to college access programs.

The program serves students for a total of five years, contingent on the student meeting all requirements each year. Enrichment activities, workshops and seminars are specifically designed to assist Black and Latino/a high school students – many of them first-generation — and prepare them for leadership roles in college, career and life.

The program sees plenty of success. All of those involved in Project Ready graduate high school, while 95% continue on to college. Former students return to serve as mentors and have more access to opportunity to succeed with the added skills and knowledge.

“We can’t do this work without money, without funding,” said Abdallah. “You get money by doing great work, providing results and making sure your funders say you’re a great partner for us that aligns with our mission.”

San Diego Foundation also often awards scholarships to students enrolled in Project Ready programs, like Meliya Russom, as part of the Community Scholarships Program.

Learn how to give to San Diego Foundation’s Housing and Education initiatives.