Universal Companies is in the business of helping people. Our mission is to create educational, cultural
and entrepreneurial opportunities that will stimulate the development of wealth within historically
To accomplish this, Universal Companies focused on the identification and removal of systemic barriers
to wealth creation within urban settings.
The premise of the Universal Plan is simple – without a comprehensive approach to community development, true neighborhood revitalization will never occur. This is particularly true in the African-American community, which faces significant challenges on many levels. Nearly 50% of African-Americans live in the country’s largest 8 urban areas, many of them low-income. Therefore, the key to revitalizing the African-American community lies in revitalizing America’s cities. The Universal Plan for Urban America is a multi-pronged approach to reinvesting in urban America – and in the African-American community.
Among the goals of the Plan are:
- to physically rebuild the community at scale;
- to rebuild the African-American family – the core component of community life;
- to create a new education environment;
- to rebuild the economic infrastructure with small business;
- to challenge the institutional and systemic issues that “lock in” the African-American community, such as welfare;
- to reconnect the community to the larger regional economy;
- and to implement a long-term community wealth-building strategy through homeownership
The Universal Plan seeks to create a balanced development outcome, encompassing diversity of income and diversity of ethnicity. To do this, Universal Companies has taken the following approaches:
- Target communities that are at the point of transition, between decline and the pressure of residential reinvestment.
- Aggregate land and create a portfolio of affordable and market-rate developments to complement the increasing private investment in the community.
- Engage in comprehensive planning in the target area with a variety of public, civic, and private sector partners. Create a vision for revitalization that identifies key properties, corridors, and neighborhood assets.
- Foster local community capacity to take advantage of market change.
This last is particularly important, and Universal has broadened its approach to assist neighborhood residents in building this capacity, through educational and social services, workforce development, and technical skills learning. This community development model, targeting education reform and community revitalization simultaneously, is at the heart of the Universal Plan, and has become a national model for a new approach to community development.