Rev. Frank Jackson: All about the People
By Dianne Anderson
When it comes down to what’s good for the Black community and the function of the ministry in lifting up the people, Rev. Frank Jackson says it’s important not to forget about the money.
At times, he takes flack for his strong focus on wealth acquisition and preservation, but without it, he sees almost all other groups getting ahead while the Black community struggles with a high debt burden.
“We’re number one in the worst credit scores, number one in the worst homeownership. We’re number one in bad health, number one in stress, which most of it is tied to our financial state. If your money is funny, it’s going to affect your health,” said Rev. Jackson Jr., chairman and CEO of Village Solutions Foundation.
In his outreach, he tries to work both sides of an economic solution.
One is getting lower-income communities as Orange County gets ready to enter its new energy billing system through Edison and the public utility commission. The Time-Of-Use Residential Rate Plan starts in October. Under the new system, the lowest rates are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. The highest rates are 4:00 to 9:00 p.m
“If you do your laundry at 8:00 in the morning you’re going to pay less than if you do it at 4:00 p.m.,” said Jackson, Energy Savings Assistance Program Coordinator. “We try to show that after your mortgage or your rent, what’s the next important thing you have in your house? It’s your utilities.”
His SCE contract started in 2008 with Rev. Mark Whitlock, then pastor of Christ Our Redeemer Church. By 2011, Village Solutions continued the contract, targeting seniors in Orange County, also reaching Inglewood, the Long Beach Corridor and Compton to provide free replacement of appliances and weatherization.
Rev. Jackson also works with Wells Fargo and CIT One West in various projects that amount to savings and wealth management for individuals and other ministries through Village Solutions, a faith-based Community Development Corporation, started with his wife Anita in 1999.
Today, Jackson, also a contributing fellow with USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, continues to work closely with the USC Literacy program, and participating banks. He virtually hosts programs due to COVID, and said one part of his outreach was the purchase of 105 properties for a discount, which were rehabbed and all sold within 18 months.
Through his First Time Homebuyer Literacy program, he helps single parents and low to moderate-income renters get into their own homes. Last week, one of his properties sold in Westchester, known as “Silicone South,” considered a gentrified community.
“We just closed it, the Black homeowner of that property of four units to an investor. They ended up benefiting from gentrification,” he said.
Admittedly, the renters will have a negative outcome. The new owners want to remodel the property, but it’s a two-fold cycle. On one side, the Black homeowner makes money. On the other side, the renters will be asked to leave.
Fixing that disconnect can only happen if the Black community moves to self-sufficiency, rather than at the whim of market forces, he said. To get there, he said he still relies on Dr. Thomas Parham’s 100 BMOC triangle of success model, focused on home, education and school and community economic impact.
In the past, he has worked at the USC Cecil Murray Center, where he was selected into the program in 2007 to learn the Murray-Whitlock method of community engagement, civic engagement and economics within a faith-based environment.
Recently, he said he finished eight virtual sessions with eight different ministries, but was sad to see only about 25 participants from Black churches compared to over 200 Latinos.
On the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement, he said it’s a critical time to be prepared for the millions of dollars in funding that is finally opening up for the Black community.
“For Black Lives Matter, if we don’t get a hold on it, this opportunity is going to close,” he warns.
It concerns him that the community is ill-prepared to receive the money. Not long ago, he participated in a conference call with the L.A. Mayor. The topic was $150 million, and the transfer of police budget to the Black community.
“Of the 100 on the phone, there were probably four Black churches that would be able to get some of that money. Most are not compliant. Most do not have a Community Development Corp.,” he said.
Within his program, ministries receive technical assistance. They learn to form their CDC, how to select their boards, deal with compliance and governance, how to work with banks, and elected officials. Currently, he works with a dozen ministries from the USC program, and coaches them for three to five years.
The hindrances to wealth are numerous, but it’s a strange dichotomy.
Throughout Los Angeles, he sees how investors have bought many luxury car dealerships even in so-called lower-income communities.
They jockey for space with other thriving businesses, like “Rent A Wheels” and high priced payday loans.
“Where else other than in our communities can you find shops where they will rent wheels to cars? You have rent-a-wheel shops in the hood. The banks know it’s not a disadvantaged community. It’s a taken-advantage-of community.”
For more information on services and programming, contact Rev. Jackson at (949) 725-9774 or firstname.lastname@example.org