About Us

Our Organization

Black Women Build – Baltimore was founded in 2017 by Shelley Halstead. Shelley believes that in order to build intergenerational wealth with Black women, we must learn the skills necessary to maintain that wealth. One way to do that is through home ownership and the ability to maintain that asset. As a Black, queer woman, Shelley has a passion for seeing other Black women thrive and so began this program. Black Women Build – Baltimore offers its holistic training program to capable women who are ready for change – women who would most benefit from the program and would not otherwise have the opportunity. Our mission is to provide home ownership opportunities by training and working with Black women to fix, repair, and renovate homes while providing support for life-based skills. In this way we empower each woman to reach the fullness of her potential so that she can create economic security for herself and her family.
Instead of focusing on poor people or black people or women as a mass, we focus on the individual Black woman and approach the problem from an intersectional framework. We understand that gender, race, and poverty affect women of color differently from other groups and we work against the cultural and institutional paradigms to better address the issues that affect Black women in the communities from which they come. Emotionally and psychologically, what it means for Black women to complete this type of task is immense. It creates a sense of pride of ownership because now she has knowledge, technical-based skills, and individual support to improve her circumstances.

The Need

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1
racial_wealthgap_reuters-Lucas-Jackson
Job seekers stand in line to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State Department of Labor. (Reuters / Lucas Jackson)

The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today

Joshua Holland, The Atlantic

read article 

About Us

Our Organization

Black Women Build – Baltimore was founded in 2017 by Shelley Halstead. Shelley believes that in order to build intergenerational wealth with Black women, we must learn the skills necessary to maintain that wealth. One way to do that is through home ownership and the ability to maintain that asset. As a Black, queer woman, Shelley has a passion for seeing other Black women thrive and so began this program.
Black Women Build – Baltimore offers its holistic training program to capable women who are ready for change – women who would most benefit from the program and would not otherwise have the opportunity. Our mission is to provide home ownership opportunities by training and working with Black women to fix, repair, and renovate homes while providing support for life-based skills. In this way we empower each woman to reach the fullness of her potential so that she can create economic security for herself and her family.

Need

1
racial_wealthgap_reuters-Lucas-Jackson
Job seekers stand in line to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State Department of Labor. (Reuters / Lucas Jackson)

The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family TodayBy Joshua Holland, The Atlantic
read article

2

Insight Center for Community Economic Development released a report almost 10 years ago ‘Lifting as We Climb’ that found Black women’s median wealth ranged between $0-$100.
read PDF

3

A newer 2017 report entitled ‘Women, Race & Wealth’ from the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and Insight Center for Community Economic Development found that Black women still fall behind in every category of wealth accumulation. While income is mainly used for daily necessities, wealth constitutes resources that improve life chances.
read PDF

4

2017 Baltimore City Health Department — 2017 Neighborhood Health Profile
read PDF

5

The Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at CFED developed this profile to better understand how racial economic inequality affects Baltimore. This profile is also one of the first steps taken under the Building High Impact Nonprofits of Color project, funded by JPMorgan Chase. This project aims to advance best practices and strengthen resources for nonprofits of color.

read profile PDF

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide home ownership opportunities by training and working with Black women to fix, repair, and renovate homes while providing support for life-based skills.

We do this by training local community members in trades-related skills through home improvement projects. We work to bring an intersectional approach to dismantling the barriers that work against our ability to thrive.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide home ownership opportunities by training and working with Black women to fix, repair, and renovate homes while providing support for life-based skills.

We do this by training local community members in trades-related skills through home improvement projects. We work to bring an intersectional approach to dismantling the barriers that work against our ability to thrive.

What We Do

Black Women Build – Baltimore is an innovative home ownership initiative that works with Black women to rehabilitate vacant and deteriorated homes while providing support for life-based skills such as financial literacy, counseling, and nutrition all of which promotes social and economic freedom. We believe that training women in trades-related work not only provides a tangible set of skills to be used on other jobs and in the home but allows women to make 2-3 times more in wages than traditionally female-centered jobs. We provide a safe and supportive community where women can learn carpentry, electrical, and plumbing during home improvement projects in the Upton and Druid Heights neighborhoods of West Baltimore. Most importantly, we create homeownership opportunities by rehabilitating distressed properties which the participants will own.
Instead of focusing on poor people or black people or women as a mass, we focus on the individual Black woman and approach the problem from an intersectional framework. We understand that gender, race, and poverty affect women of color differently from other groups and we work against the cultural and institutional paradigms to better address the issues that affect Black women in the communities from which they come. Emotionally and psychologically, what it means for Black women to complete this type of task is immense. It creates a sense of pride of ownership because now she has knowledge, technical-based skills, and individual support to improve her circumstances.
Etting - Druid Heights
Etting - Druid Heights

What We Do

Black Women Build – Baltimore is an innovative home ownership initiative that works with Black women to rehabilitate vacant and deteriorated homes while providing support for life-based skills such as financial literacy, counseling, and nutrition all of which promotes social and economic freedom. We believe that training women in trades-related work not only provides a tangible set of skills to be used on other jobs and in the home but allows women to make 2-3 times more in wages than traditionally female-centered jobs. We provide a safe and supportive community where women can learn carpentry, electrical, and plumbing during home improvement projects in the Upton and Druid Heights neighborhoods of West Baltimore. Most importantly, we create homeownership opportunities by rehabilitating distressed properties which the participants will own.
Instead of focusing on poor people or black people or women as a mass, we focus on the individual Black woman and approach the problem from an intersectional framework. We understand that gender, race, and poverty affect women of color differently from other groups and we work against the cultural and institutional paradigms to better address the issues that affect Black women in the communities from which they come. Emotionally and psychologically, what it means for Black women to complete this type of task is immense. It creates a sense of pride of ownership because now she has knowledge, technical-based skills, and individual support to improve her circumstances.
Etting - Druid Heights
Etting - Druid Heights

Leadership Team

Shelley Halstead - Black Woemn Build, Executive Director

Shelley Halstead

Executive Director

Shelley has lived and worked all over the globe. She moved to Baltimore in 2015 after spending 20 years in Seattle where she was a union carpenter for 13 years. She also managed her own construction business, and has bought and sold several houses – renovating each and every one. After attending law school as a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law, Shelley decided to put her skills as a carpenter and her passion for economic and reproductive justice together by using her degree and particular skill set to begin Black Women Build – Baltimore.

Jael Humphrey - BWB-B Board President

Jael Humphrey

Board President

Jael, an attorney, has worked in law firms, clerked for federal judges and headed the police misconduct and criminal justice priority area at Lambda Legal, a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people living with HIV. The National Black Lawyers association recognized her work at Lambda by naming her to the top 40 under 40 in 2015. She was previously on the Board of Directors for Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Prior to graduating from Yale Law School, Jael lived and worked in Guatemala and Brazil. She is a proud homeowner.

Victoria R. Clark

Victoria R. Clark

Board Secretary

Victoria grew up in Washington, D.C. Having been born to a teenage mother in the 1980s, Victoria grew up around a lot of single black mothers who did not own homes and had nothing to pass on to their children. As a child, she always wanted to be a homeowner, and that dream was finally realized, when she bought a home in Philadelphia, PA, where she is a public defender. Prior to becoming a public defender, she committed to being a City Year Corp Member within D.C. public schools. She attended law school as a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar at the University of Washington in Seattle. In addition to helping her clients stay free, Victoria makes excellent Spotify playlists.

Shauna R. Brown

Shauna R. Brown

Board Treasurer

Surrounded by a nurturing village, Shauna was raised by her hardworking single mother on the south side of Chicago. She matriculated through undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois while working part-time to finance her education, eventually earning a degree in Marketing. Shauna eagerly participated in several mentorship programs during undergrad, and recognizes the advantages she gained when her hard work met opportunity — advantages she would not have gained without exposure to such programs and the people involved with them. She then began her career in the pharmaceutical industry, where Shauna took on various roles from sales representative to her current role in oncology clinical development. Shauna sees Black Women Build – Baltimore as an opportunity to empower other women with the tools and life skills needed to gain independence and freedom.

Leadership Team

Shelley Halstead - Black Woemn Build, Executive Director

Shelley Halstead

Executive Director

Shelley has lived and worked all over the globe. She moved to Baltimore in 2015 after spending 20 years in Seattle where she was a union carpenter for 13 years. She also managed her own construction business, and has bought and sold several houses – renovating each and every one. After attending law school as a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law, Shelley decided to put her skills as a carpenter and her passion for economic and reproductive justice together by using her degree and particular skill set to begin Black Women Build – Baltimore.

Jael Humphrey - BWB-B Board President

Jael Humphrey

Board President

Jael, an attorney, has worked in law firms, clerked for federal judges and headed the police misconduct and criminal justice priority area at Lambda Legal, a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people living with HIV. The National Black Lawyers association recognized her work at Lambda by naming her to the top 40 under 40 in 2015. She was previously on the Board of Directors for Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Prior to graduating from Yale Law School, Jael lived and worked in Guatemala and Brazil. She is a proud homeowner.

Victoria R. Clark

Victoria R. Clark

Board Secretary

Victoria grew up in Washington, D.C. Having been born to a teenage mother in the 1980s, Victoria grew up around a lot of single black mothers who did not own homes and had nothing to pass on to their children. As a child, she always wanted to be a homeowner, and that dream was finally realized, when she bought a home in Philadelphia, PA, where she is a public defender. Prior to becoming a public defender, she committed to being a City Year Corp Member within D.C. public schools. She attended law school as a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar at the University of Washington in Seattle. In addition to helping her clients stay free, Victoria makes excellent Spotify playlists.

Shauna R. Brown

Shauna R. Brown

Board Treasurer

Surrounded by a nurturing village, Shauna was raised by her hardworking single mother on the south side of Chicago. She matriculated through undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois while working part-time to finance her education, eventually earning a degree in Marketing. Shauna eagerly participated in several mentorship programs during undergrad, and recognizes the advantages she gained when her hard work met opportunity — advantages she would not have gained without exposure to such programs and the people involved with them. She then began her career in the pharmaceutical industry, where Shauna took on various roles from sales representative to her current role in oncology clinical development. Shauna sees Black Women Build – Baltimore as an opportunity to empower other women with the tools and life skills needed to gain independence and freedom.

Intern and Volunteer Opportunities

Our internship cycle lasts 3 months and is a great way to get better acquainted with the building trades. These internships can also be an avenue for additional opportunity with Black Women Build – Baltimore.

Please visit the Internship page to familiarize yourself with our mission and the specific positions available. Submit the application materials as directed, and if we think you might be a good fit, we will contact you to set up a phone/in-person interview.

*We will be accepting Internship Applications through January 5, 2019*

Black Women Build – Baltimore is also looking for skilled and unskilled volunteers, and trade professionals to support our program!

Please visit our Get Involved page to learn more and apply.

We would love to hear from you.

Please allow 72 hours for email response

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