A new development called Thrive Village, located in the East Parkside community of West Philadelphia and led by Ujima Developers LLC, presented a prime opportunity for Barra to utilize mission-aligned investing – below-market rate investments that are primarily made to advance the foundation’s charitable mission.
Ujima Developers is a collaborative of real estate development professionals seeking to impact historically disinvested communities. Its vision and business plan were developed by Dr. Leon Caldwell, a Black social entrepreneur and community health researcher who grew up in East Parkside. Ujima approaches its work as a collective and inclusive effort that works in community with residents. They want to deliver on what the Swahili term “Ujima” means: to build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems to solve together.
Ujima Developers engage longtime and new residents of East Parkside to ask what they need to have a better quality of life, what they believe will help their community thrive, and how it can be developed in a way that is sustainable and best serves the existing community. Thrive Village, with support from Barra through a mission-aligned investment, is one of three Ujima projects in East Parkside. STEAMIE will be a creative maker workspace and Ujima Village will be multi-generational, affordable housing. Thrive Village, considered the anchor, will be a mixed-use development designed to promote healthy food access, job and entrepreneurship development for community members, and the preservation of affordable housing in East Parkside.