Get Your First Home — And Keep It

What else can we do? How can we better connect you to the know-how and financing essential to build and grow successful businesses? How can we arm you with the strategies and fortitude necessary to achieve rewarding and fulfilling careers? What more must we do to get you to commit to disciplined saving and smart investing? How can we motivate you to create, grow, and pass on wealth to future generations? How can we better inform and uplift you? More important, how can we get you to simply take action?

As we celebrate our August 2006 issue, marking the 36th anniversary of BLACK ENTERPRISE, our greatest accomplishments have yet to be realized. It’s not about all of the great things we have done, but the hard work and tremendous opportunities that lie before us as a magazine, as a multimedia company, and as a people. The employees of BE — especially our editors, our event managers, the producers of our television show and syndicated radio reports, and Website staff — remain focused on one question: What more can we do to inspire the wealth-building behaviors necessary for African Americans to advance and thrive?

Last year, we answered that question by launching our first Own Your First Home Contest, offering a grand prize of $10,000 toward the down payment on a home for the winning entry. The contest was such a great success — spurring nearly 1,000 African Americans, including contest winners James and Kimberly Papillion, to pursue homeownership — that we’re launching the second Own Your First Home Contest with the publication of this issue. (Entries will be accepted from July 10 through Sept. 1, 2006. Go to for contest rules and entry forms.) For us, it’s simple. Homeownership is the foundation of individual wealth in America. African Americans have a lower rate of homeownership than other groups. So a major first step in building black wealth — in fact, the No. 1 principle of our Declaration of Financial Empowerment — is to increase the rate of African American homeownership.

But it does not stop with getting more African Americans into their own homes. We must also provide the information, education, and strategies necessary to help them to keep those homes. Due to rising foreclosure rates, African Americans are in danger of depleting the hard earned increases in homeownership gained over the past few years. In fact, according to RealtyTrac, a firm that specializes in foreclosure monitoring, three of the cities on our list of the 10 Best Cities for African Americans — Atlanta; Dallas; and Memphis, Tennessee — are among those with the highest foreclosure rates in the first quarter of 2006.

We intend to meet the threat of foreclosure head on, by providing you with guidance to help you to buy as much home as you can afford and then helping you to adopt the money management habits necessary to preserve the asset and haven your home represents. We will also identify resources such as the Minneapolis-based Homeownership Preservation Foundation, which is working in partnership with the National