Black Wealth Education Series — Economic Ownership and Power


Open Road Fund’s event “Economic Ownership & Power” took place on Wednesday, March 27th, 2024 from 6 – 8 pm CT.


  • Dr. Rose Brewer, Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of African American & African Studies, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Nkuli Shongwe, Director of Community Wealth Building at Nexus
  • Anisha Murphy, Esq., Owner of Just Law LLC, Adjunct Professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and Vice President of Partnership Development at Community Reinvestment Fund, USA
  • Moderator: Danielle Mkali, Senior Director of Community Wealth Building

About the Black Wealth Community Education Series

The Open Road Fund at Nexus Community Partners is hosting a Black Wealth Community Education Series from January to May 2024. The series is free, virtual, and live and is available as a resource for all while centering Black people and Black experiences. Topics include economic justice, housing, health and healing, and more. This is a Black-centered space where the Open Road Fund prioritizes uplifting Black voices and safety. Learn more about the Open Road Fund here.

Want to join the next event in the series? Sign up here for Nexus’s newsletter to stay connected!


Open Road Fund is hosting a Black Wealth Community Education Series from January to May 2024, covering financial wellbeing, housing, health and healing, and more. The series is free, open the public, and a Black-centered space. 

Financial Wellbeing: Strategies to Building Wealth took place on February 21st, 2024. The recording and evaluation form are located below.

In this session, we discuss different types of housing structures and how they relate to building Black wealth. Our panelists included Aarica Coleman, Appointed Administrator of the City of Bloomington’s Housing & Redevelopment Authority; Kimani Beard, Co-Founder of Summer Cypher Mpls & Member of Philadelphia Community Farm; and Sharon Garth, Retired Banker and Community Development Advocate. Kirstin Burch, Program Director of Family Housing Fund moderated.

Open Road Fund Black Wealth Community Education Series Feedback Survey

Housing and Shelter

Wednesday, February 21, 6:00 - 8:00 PM CST
Thank you for attending our Black Wealth Community Education Series event:  Housing and Shelter

Please let us know what you liked about the event and how we can improve to make future events even better. Your feedback is very much appreciated!

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Open Road Fund is hosting a Black Wealth Community Education Series from January to May 2024, covering financial wellbeing, housing, health and healing, and more. The series is free, open the public, and a Black-centered space. 

Financial Wellbeing: Strategies to Building Wealth took place on Thursday, January 25th. The recording and evaluation form are all located below.

In this session, we discuss strategies for building and maintaining wealth with Katherine Lankford of Finance and Affirmations and Kenya McKnight-Ahad, CEO and Founder of the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance. Katherine shares her expertise on life insurance and asset protection, while Kenya returns to talk about money management and spending plans.

Open Road Fund
Black Wealth Community Education Series
Feedback Survey

Financial Wellbeing: Strategies for Building Black Wealth

Thursday, January 25, 6 - 7:30 PM CST
Thank you for attending our Black Wealth Community Education Series event Financial Wellbeing: Strategies for Building Black Wealth! 

Please let us know what you liked about the event and how we can improve to make future events even better. Your feedback is very much appreciated!

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1 being the the lowest rating and 5 being the highest.
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Open Road Fund is hosting a Black Wealth Community Education Series from January to May 2024, covering financial wellbeing, housing, health and healing, and more. Financial Wellbeing: Exploring the Impact of Trauma and Triumphs behind Money Habits took place on Thursday, January 11th. The recording, study guide, and evaluation form are all located below.

Katherine Lankford of Finance and Affirmations hosted this panel featuring Kenya McKnight Ahad from Black Womens Wealth Alliance and David McGee from Build Wealth MN.

Guiding Questions

The guiding questions can be used to reflect and set goals around your own individual/family financial goals. The questions are meant to serve as a guide and to help you begin identifying emotions and beliefs around money, and to begin unpacking the traumas that may affect your financial well being. We understand and acknowledge that not everyone share the same experiences when it comes to finances and not everyone experiences trauma as it is related to money. These questions can still be helpful to help identify where money beliefs start and how we pass them down generationally.

As Kenya McKnight-Ahad mentioned in the session, “money is a tool to building wealth. It is not the full scope of how we measure wealth.” We also want to emphasize that there are oppressive systems that were created and some that still exist today that hinders Black folks from building wealth and obtaining financial freedom. As you reflect on these questions, please be aware of how certain feelings and emotions may show up in your body and allow yourself grace to feel them when doing so.

Lastly, we ask that you begin having these conversations with your children, family, and community in a way that feels comfortable and safe for you.

  • What was the atmosphere surrounding money in your family?
  • What were the specific financial struggles and/or success in your family?
  • How did your family discuss or avoid discussions around money?
  • Where did that belief come from?
  • Where do I want to see myself financially in the next six months, one year, and five years from now?

Dear community,

We have officially entered the next phase of the Open Road Fund 2023. We have informed all 11,000 of our applicants of their decisions. Our team felt excitement and hope as we reached out to the 100 finalists who were randomly selected to receive $50,000 to invest in their Black wealth plans. We were also filled with sadness turning so many people down. All Black folks’ dreams for their abundant futures are worthy and deserving of resources.

From the beginning, we have been clear that this is not reparations. While this $50 million is an important step towards cultivating black wealth, it is not close to enough to repair all the harm done to the Black community over the last 400 years. When we do get reparations, it should be for all descendants of enslaved African people, not just 800 folks from Minnesota and the Dakotas.

purple background with Minnesota, north and South Dakota. Various hands of different shades of brown holding flowers. yellow text reads: open road fund. Forging paths toward liberation on roads paved by our ancestors. Launching June 19, 2023.

How were finalists selected?

We used a random selection process to choose finalists because of our inherent belief that all the eligible Open Road Fund applicant’s’ dreams and plans for creating and sustaining Black wealth deserved an opportunity to be chosen. For example, Oone family’s plan to buy a home does not have more or less merit than another person’s plan to invest in a business or to pursue higher education.

We worked with software developers to design a randomization tool built for our grantmaking process. Using this tool, we randomly selected finalists—50% of finalists are from the Twin Cities metro area and 50% are from Greater Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Will finalists be publicly announced?

For those of you who were not chosen this year, we understand the grief and the skepticism you may be feeling right now. With only 100 people selected across 3 states, some of us may not yet know anyone who was selected. Out of respect and concern for finalists’ privacy, Nexus will not make finalists names public, although finalists are free to share if they wish.

What’s next?

Phase 2 of the Open Road Fund includes finalists submitting their Black wealth plans, and once approved, disbursement of funds. After finalists receive their awards, we plan to consensually share grantee stories and evaluate grantee experiences in partnership with Research in Action, a Black-led research and evaluation firm.

The Open Road Fund will be distributing funds for the next 7 years. We hope you will continue to follow the Open Road Fund and Nexus Community Partners—across our organization, we work to nurture the prosperity of our communities, including our health, joy, peace, love, safety, and the needs of future generations. We will continue to share Black wealth building opportunities hosted by Nexus and our partners.

In Solidarity,

The Open Road Fund Team

If you have not heard back about your Open Road Fund application, please email us at If you have questions, please reference our FAQ page.

On Juneteenth, applications for the fund will be available to Black residents in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. June 5, 2023 / PRNewswire / Nexus Community Partners, a leading organization creating pathways to equity for communities of color in the Twin Cities and beyond, announced the $50 million Open Road Fund, a wealth-building community resource for descendants of the Atlantic Slave Trade living in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Resourced by the Bush Foundation, eligible Black residents will have access to apply for the fund starting June 19th, also known as Juneteenth.

This $50 million resource is seen as one way to help the Black community cultivate wealth and prosperity.

Though not labeled as reparations because the Fund’s resources cannot correct all of the harm done to Black people over the last 400 years, this $50 million resource is seen as one way to help the Black community cultivate wealth and prosperity.

Through this $50 million Open Road Fund, Nexus has a chance to provide a return on the investment Black folks have long made to this country and create Black wealth. To us, Black wealth-building is about creating spaces and opportunities that help all Black people to thrive,” said Repa Mekha, president and CEO of Nexus Community Partners. “When we have access to an abundance of resources, we can cultivate healing, safety, care and liberation on our own terms.”

There are no income caps or minimums and Black people, age 14 and up, especially formerly incarcerated people, single parents, senior citizens, those living with disabilities, LGBTQ+ are encouraged to apply.

Over the next eight years, the Fund will award $50,000 grants to at least 800 eligible applicants to be used for several wealth-building projects, including housing, education, financial well-being, healing and economic justice. Applicants will need to identify the area of focus that best suits their path to building Black wealth and will be judged by a diverse panel of community leaders across the Dakotas and Minnesota. Applicants can apply for the grants individually, but groups are encouraged to apply in hopes of building long-term Black wealth and increasing their community impact.

The opening of the application process will be celebrated with an invite-only Juneteenth event for those connected with Nexus, the creation of the Open Road Fund, community leaders and media.

Those eligible to apply should visit The Open Road Fund. The Open Road application closes July 28th.

About Nexus Community Partners

In who we are and through what we do, Nexus Community Partners builds engaged and powerful communities so that each and every person can flourish in a joyful and abundant life. We hold central that, for this to be possible, we must usher out the rigged rules, attitudes, and practices that concentrate wealth and power in ever fewer and ever whiter hands, and usher in ways of living, working, and making decisions together that nourish communities for this generation and generations to come.

Media Contact

Danielle Mkali

Introducing the Advisory for the Black Community Trust Fund! These 11 folks are helping the Nexus team shape the Fund. They will be part of designing how the fund operates, reviewing and approving applications, and gathering and incorporating community feedback. Learn more about them here!

Last fall we made a major announcement. Nexus Community Partners was selected by the Bush Foundation to establish a Community Trust Fund that directs $50 million to Black communities in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota over 8 years. We are thrilled for the opportunity to redistribute these deserved resources to everyday Black folks working to provide for their families, run small businesses, tend to their wellbeing, and so much more. And we know that we cannot do this alone. We need your help to decide what Black Wealth Building means, together.

Take the survey here!

What is the survey?

Nexus Community Partners is launching a survey to help inform the Black Community Trust fund. This survey will contribute to how we define Black wealth, and how the fund should be used. This community engagement effort is one important way that will help us include as many Black people’s input into the fund.

We will give five $50 gift cards randomly to survey participants and draw names weekly throughout the survey period. The survey closes January 31st 2023. 

Who is the survey for?

Black individuals from across the MN, ND and SD region are invited to take part in creating this fund. Our values, culture, and ideas about wealth are critical to creating the Black wealth fund we know Black people deserve. All qualifying Black residents in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota are invited to submit feedback. This includes Black folks who are formerly incarcerated, LGBTQI+, poor, disabled, single, married, and more. By “Black” we are referring to descendants of formerly enslaved Black people (including descendants of Black families who experienced Jim Crow and 20th century redlining). 

“We are part of an ecosystem of community members, businesses, and organizations who have been doing this work for decades,” said Danielle Mkali, Nexus Senior Director “We recognize the generations of Black folks working to create economic justice, the many, Black-led organizations in our community that have been advocating on Black people’s behalf, and the ancestors who persevered in the face of impossible hardship. We thank them for creating the foundation we now stand upon. And we look forward to partnering with them throughout this process. We hope you will participate in the survey today.”

In the tradition of Black cooperation, we are not doing this work alone. Because these funds are for the Black community, we are trusting the community to shape the process. Engagement efforts like this survey, and the Black Community Trust Advisory Council are instrumental in building this fund together.  We are deeply engaging Black community members around the region to design the fund, from the application criteria to decision making structures. One thing is certain though: the Community Trust Fund will go directly to Black individuals and families to build wealth, not to organizations and institutions. 

Learn more about the Black Community Trust Fund 

Earlier this year, the Bush Foundation committed $100 million to seed two community trust funds, one Black led and one Indigenous led, to address racialized wealth disparities. As the two organizations chosen for these grants, we find it necessary to speak out in solidarity with one another—and to provide some context and transparency to our communities.

The Bush Foundation didn’t just come to this decision on their own. Their commitment was the result of the massive reckoning that the United States was thrown into after Black people rose up across the country, in outrage over George Floyd’s televised murder by police. The uprisings demanding accountability for continued racial violence created ripple effects in industries and organizations everywhere. Some of those ripples didn’t go far, with corporations simply making shallow statements about valuing Black lives and leaving it at that. In other cases, the momentum is just beginning. The Bush Foundation’s decision to allocate funds specifically for Black and Indigenous-led organizations is a result of the conversation our movements pushed to the forefront of this nation’s consciousness.

To be crystal clear, this decision also didn’t happen as a result of polite conversations and agreements around conference tables. It happened because people took to the streets for months. It happened because we’re demanding the dismantling of the white supremacist systems that are literally killing us.

Historically, Black and Indigenous people have been pitted against each other by our colonizers and oppressors. But we know Indigenous sovereignty and Black liberation are tied to one another. While our people have unique histories and current needs, we are subjected to similar discrimination and violence – and neither of us will be free without the other.

We know that money alone will not fix the deeply entrenched systems led by people who benefit from keeping us isolated from one another and without real power to change the way the world functions around us. The shifting of funding to our communities, however, is a necessary start as we build infrastructure and capacity to lift up our solutions.

Black and Indigenous people have concrete solutions for the issues our own communities face – but those same solutions will benefit everyone else, too.

When Indigenous people demand land back, we’re not trying to steal people’s homes and displace them. We will not repeat the violence and oppression that was used on us. We need land back because the lands that were stolen are sacred to us, and treaties protecting our rights are continuously broken by the very government who created them. We also need our land back so we have space to build sustainable practices and reconnect with our lifeways. Indigenous management of lands is necessary to combat the climate crisis which is polluting the water we all drink, the air we all breathe, and threatening the crops we all rely on for food, so that future generations will have a future.

When Black folks demand reparations, we are asking for a social, political, and economic reckoning for enslavement and the anti-Black policies that followed. Reparations means abandoning the extraction, destruction, and exploitation of white supremacy in favor of life, connection, and wholeness for everyone. Black people have been honoring our shared humanity, practicing cooperation, and caring deeply for one another for hundreds of years. We must live into this future of mutuality and collective care to survive.

The wealth gap was designed on purpose to keep Black and Indigenous people in poverty and therefore out of the halls of power. This grant is a step in the right direction – it’s the casting of a single stone in the pond, and it will stir up the waters a little. But we need much more widespread bold action. We hope that other foundations and philanthropists will follow the Bush Foundation’s lead and make similar commitments to put the money that was made on our backs and stolen from our lands into our hands.

When we talk about alternatives to the current systems, we are talking about building community wealth and regenerative systems that aren’t extractive of people or the planet. When we talk about wealth, we’re asking ourselves: what does wealth mean for us? How do we define wealth, and how is this definition shaped by cultures and values, rather than the market? We know that putting people and the planet over profit is the only way we can reverse the damages our world is currently facing.

Black and Indigenous solidarity means building something new, together with our people. We’re drawing from the past to stage for the future. We have collective visions of liberation guiding us through this next chapter, and look forward to learning together as we move forward.

Comprehensive planning and design will begin immediately in January 2022, which will include input from community partners and advisors. Grantmaking will emerge from that planning process, and is expected to be available to individuals and families by early 2023.