Amplifying Housing Literacy – Ep.31

Dismantling The Employment Process – Ep.30
June 9, 2021
Inspiring Social Impact – Ep.32
July 28, 2021

Influenced by her experience growing up in Chicago, Florise Nevel-Ewell uses her professional and personal passion by educating young lawyers, youths, and adults about building wealth through housing literacy. Her work spans across educational platforms connecting corporate initiatives, non-profit advocacy, and social impact.

Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion and equity. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share, or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.

 One of the reasons I love doing the podcast is because I get to meet such interesting and fabulous people. So let me tell you about our next guest, Florise Neville-Ewell. After graduating with honors from Yale College and Yale Law School, she started her career as a law clerk for the Honorable Julian Cook, a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. Since then, she worked in the public and private sectors and academia. A native Chicagoan, she returned to Chicago after the clerkship to work as an associate at Sidley and Austin.

After marrying the Honorable Edward Ewell Jr., she returned to Michigan to work as an associate at Honigman LLP, and later, joined the faculty at Wayne State Law School. Prior to joining the faculty at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, she worked as General Counsel for the Housing Commission and Chief of Contracts for the City of Detroit. Throughout her career, she has represented a myriad of clients, including nonprofit and for-profit developers, small businesses, ecclesiastical entities, municipalities, and utilities.

As an academic professor, she has taught contracts, ethics, property and real estate finance and published articles and compilations for academics and the public. As an academic, Professor Neville-Ewell has taught contracts, ethics, property, and real estate finance and published articles and compilations for academics and the public. Her most recent articles include, a Slice of History Underlying the Current Financial Pandemic, Black Women and Property 1800-1850, Black Women as Property and Taking Politics out of Property Law Legislation, 21st Century Factors for the Legislature to Consider. She has published articles and conducted countless presentations about real estate issues for the public.

She has been a featured speaker at an annual program sponsored by Fifth-Third Bank for ecclesiastical organizations. She’s the founder of the Ten Commandments of Real Estate Law Society, otherwise known as 10CORE Law Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating adults and youth through programming about housing matters. To date, 10CORE Law Society has provided outreach in Michigan, Florida, Georgia, and Maryland. She also wrote, Organize and Understand Your Real Estate Documents with the FLO-FOLDER, a hybrid book and toolkit designed to educate youth as well as current and prospective homeowners about the real estate process and essential documents.

A frequent speaker on housing related topics, the Justice Department invited her to be a panelist at a Mortgage Fraud Summit hosted by Former President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. She frequently speaks on talk shows about mortgage and real estate issues. In addition, she frequently speaks on talk shows about mortgage and real estate issues has been responsible for providing weekly hot tips about mortgage and foreclosure issues on the radio and has spoken at events sponsored by AARP, the American Bar Association, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging, the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, Michigan Attorney General’s Office, NAACP, the National Bar Association, amongst other organizations and banks.

In 2020, she started hosting the Housing Gap Podcast and having been asked by the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section recently moderated a virtual program with panelists about Detroit Tenants’ Eviction Rights. She remains passionate about teaching and working with organizations and clients dedicated to enhancing and building sustainable communities.

All right. So I am so pleased to have Florise Neville-Ewell with me today. You have heard her amazing introduction and I’m just excited to have this conversation. You are doing so many wonderful things, not only in your profession, but the way it’s impacting the communities around you, which I know it’s only the beginning. So I wanted to just start off talking a little bit about you in terms of how you got here, and maybe you can tell us your journey into how you became so passionate about the work you’re doing.

Florise Nevel-Ewell: Well, thank you so much, Melyssa. This is just a humbling experience to be on your podcast because I am so thrilled with the work that you are doing and the podcast symbolizes that work. So thank you so much. I am humbled to be here and very grateful. My journey began in Chicago, Illinois, in what is now known as Bronzeville, but then it was the proverbial hood. My dad was an attorney, one of a handful of black lawyers at the time in the late ’50s. And as a result, we moved into this area that had very high rates of poverty and the like, but we lived in a gray stone, but I think in retrospect, it was probably the best move we could have made because we had lived in Hyde Park, but my dad, I think for political reasons and other reasons moved into this wonderful old house that we still own.

I am one of six children. So I had many conversations with my siblings growing up and there’s an 18 year difference between me and my oldest siblings. But it’s very important that you see that growing up in that area, but ultimately, going to a high school on the North Side of Chicago, which was in the Gold Coast, gave me a very, I think, significant and important foundation. First and foremost, my parents were very active in service. My mom was in the Black Lawyers Wives Organization, comparable to the lengths that I later joined, but it was for black lawyers’ wives, literally. And we were told from the beginning, from the cradle, that our responsibility was to use our gifts to make the world a better place and that there was a lot of work to be done.

And so if you can just imagine, I would walk along 43rd Street and pass areas where I would see drunk folks just in the little alcoves, those same people when I came home from the Gold Coast were waving me down and saying, “How’s it going?” One guy called me slue-foot, right? He’s like, “How’s it going, slue-foot? How did you study the day? Did you get your lesson?” So on a strange way, both internally and externally, both inside that house and outside of that house, I had a tremendous, tremendous support base and my dad died at three. You see, here, my mother was a widow with these six children trying to navigate the streets of Chicago, which are still in, shall we say very bad shape.

Well, that experience at Francis Parker, where I went to high school, where the model was everything to help and nothing to hinder, also penetrated my soul because as I saw this poverty and saw this wealth, I had to reconcile those two and say to myself, guess what Florise, you’ve got to make sure that you use all of these experiences to then come back and help the community. So from early on, that was my MO because it was necessary. From there, I went to Yale College and ultimately to Yale Law School. And at Yale, the model is Lux et Veritas, light and truth. And there, believe it or not, most of us took that to mean that we had a responsibility with this Ivy League education. And I didn’t view it as something that’s separated me from the community, but something that enabled me to get everything that I could and take it back to the community. So I have always been very serious about my role and my purpose. And I’ve tried to use all of the exposure that I’ve had to help folks. In a nutshell, that’s all I’ve been trying to do.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, you’re definitely doing it.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Thank you so much.

Melyssa Barrett: That’s wonderful. Wonderful. So, and I mean, some of the things that you have in your bio even, you’re talking about a slice of history underlying the current financial pandemic, I’m assuming that could have been written at any point in time.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Isn’t that ironic? Isn’t that ironic? Because certainly, I was talking about the financial pandemic at that point, the mortgage crisis, but it prompted me to use my academic side, if you will, to make sure that I expose some things that I realized had not been discussed. And in that respect, I started this sort of series of articles, but I’ve been so busy with my pro bono work I haven’t gotten back to the pure academic list, but it was designed to identify, and the title, the ultimate title was Black Women and Property 1800 to 1850, Black Women as Property. And it is so relevant even now, because if we look at the George Floyd situation, be they men or women, I just happened to be writing about women, we know that sadly for many people at their core, they’ve never really been able to separate viewing people of color as objects and not as individuals. And certainly, that is not across the board, because again, I’ve been fortunate to meet people from all walks of life.

And there’s no doubt that we can never say that one sector or one group feels one way or the other, but we do know based upon some recent statistics that we have some folks who feel that way or who at least arguably believe that at their core, we just might not all be human beings. And so what I tried to do in that article was to unveil the history behind chattel slavery, the history behind the extent to which black women in the strata of women even, and of course, women themselves, we are not part of the male club, but even in that article where I looked at the extent to which our laws impacted the legal status of women and their ability to acquire property, which is always my vantage point, women generally were not as, shall we say, well-positioned as men, but ultimately, black women were at the bottom of the list. And so all of that was based, you see, not withstanding the fact that slavery ended or Juneteenth and what an historic day to be here after that path.

But there’s still this sense, I believe even now, sadly, that some people simply do not believe or can not embrace how we are a universe of people that we are not really that different, but for our ethnicity. And isn’t that a beautiful thing, just like looking at a bouquet of flowers that we bring to the table this beauty, this raw essence from our various backgrounds that when put together make it powerful, which is what you are always speaking about. And once we can understand that and get away from looking at differences and celebrate differences, we’re going to be a powerful world, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Melyssa Barrett:  Absolutely. You just gave me chills in my body. That’s when I know I’m on the right track. That’s fantastic. So now can you talk a little bit about the, I mean, you obviously have spent a lot of time in the real estate area, mortgage, contracts, I could go on and on. You have given advice in terms of acquiring property and the creation of, I believe it’s called the Ten Commandments of Real Estate or 10CORE.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Ten Commandments of Real Estate Law Society, yes. Yes.

Melyssa Barrett:  And how, as you all are focused on S.W.A.G. Self Wealth Achieving Greatness, which I love the term S.W.A.G. because it always, when you think about acquiring property, building wealth, I mean, you definitely have to have swag as you move up the ladder. So are there things specifically that you’re doing that it seems that it’s different than just say home ownership counseling or that? Can you talk a little bit about what that offers?

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Yes. Well, before I talk about what it offers, because I am excited to talk about it, can I tell you another catalyst for me because I told you about my upbringing?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  There’s one other key catalyst that I’d love to share. And that is, I’ve worked in the public and private sectors, big law or a big firm in Chicago, Sidley and Austin, until I moved back, fell in love, having clerked with my husband, but I need to really share how we got there because I think it was in the mid to late ’90s, I got a phone call from the then deputy mayor, Nettie Seabrooks, who was working with Dennis Archer. And Dennis Archer had a very successful career here in his capacity as mayor. He was also a Supreme Court justice, ABA head. I mean, he’s just a very busy prominent member. And I had been General Counsel of the Housing Commission while he was there, et cetera. So very busy. But I left to start teaching, I believe, but I’ve always worn three hats, real estate lawyer, educator, advocate for the disenfranchised.

And so Nettie Seabrooks called on behalf of the Mayor’s Office and said, “Florise, we have a problem and we need you to go straight over to the East Side because this company has come to town and has found a way.” And she didn’t say it this way, but I’ll just cut to the chase, to steal the American Dream from these families. Okay. So what did that mean? Basically, this company got millions of dollars from a bank in Texas, came to Detroit and bought a substantial amount of the housing stock and then entered into land contracts with these families. The families in turn were promised, we will help you with credit repair, we will help you with doing major repairs around your house and ultimately stick with us, we’ve got your back.

Basically, they thought as families, they were being positioned to realize the American Dream as it’s defined. Little did they know, though, that in the back, this company was setting up what we say in the industry as affiliated businesses. And these businesses, though, weren’t being, shall we say profiled by the company, they were happening in the backroom. And one of those companies was an appraisal firm.

So in this particular area in the city, there is no way in the world that those houses were worth a $100,000 or $150,000, but this appraisal firm found that they were. By the same token, the company set up a mortgage company and was pulling out that artificial equity. So ultimately, it needed more money, went back to the bank in Texas. The bank said, “What’s going on? Performance should look better than this.” And as it turns out, everything hit the fan literally and figuratively.

The problem was, just to cut to the chase, was that by the time we got over there, we were trying to basically position these families so that they could resume ultimately purchasing these houses. But as everyone knows, land contract does not mean that title has passed. So we went into bankruptcy court, very dear friend of mine, Richardo Kilpatrick, and I were working together. And ultimately, we were trying to get the bankruptcy court to clear those titles so that we could ultimately position these families.

But I was brought to tears, Melyssa, because those families were unbanked. And as a result, the very evidence that we need was unavailable. They couldn’t prove that they had been paying. The land contracts hadn’t been recorded. That wasn’t their fault, but they were simply unaware of some of the basics. And as a result, they were taken. And so that sent chills down my spine. And I was just devastated because as lawyers, we’re trying to help people, we figure it out, we stay up, do whatever we need to do, look at that last statute, that last case, but there was nothing that I could do about their lack of knowledge. And as we say, not even knowing what they did not know.

So from there, I went to one of our local banks and I said, “We’ve got to do better.” And I started doing on air broadcast. And this was something that I had been doing since law school, frankly, but I was doing, if you’re about to buy a house and pay cash, before you do it, stop, go get some title insurance. What’s title insurance? So I was trying to endow the community with information that clearly they did not have. And so I worked on the air, I started doing writing for a bank that came to town and in the black newspaper here, I did everything that I could.

Well, the law students at my law school started seeing, they’re always saying what we’re doing, obviously. And the law students around this time, you see, in the 2000s, were beginning to have issues personally and their families as well. And they said, “Professor, we want to help. We want to get involved. What can we do? Will you come and speak to our community?” And of course, in Michigan, we have like most states all ethnicities. So we did programming everywhere from AARP to Arab communities, where we had two sets of slides up so that we could make sure that everyone could read them. We were in communities where only the men were there because the women “weren’t involved in the finances”. I mean, it was just fascinating, but the beauty of it was I had somehow piqued the interest of the students as well, which is the ultimate way that we can make sure that these things continue.

I was a sprinter in college, not a good one, but I was on a relay team and we pass that baton back. So part of the beauty of what I’m attempting to do and what ultimately became 10CORE because the students said, “Professor, we want to be involved.” I said, “It doesn’t get better than that. Let’s do it.” Set up a 501(c)(3). And the rest is history now until we also added S.W.A.G. a couple of years ago.

Melyssa Barrett:  Wow. That is a phenomenal story. And so many nuggets of great information in there in terms of life lessons, because I do think that specifically with people of color, I mean, we certainly have a larger share of unbanked population. We don’t necessarily think about the fact that we’re paying cash as that it could be detrimental in some way in terms of tracking. That’s one of the reasons that being banked and having credit and all of that, it does allow people to provide the evidence that they need to showcase where they are and that they are financially capable.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Yes.

Melyssa Barrett:  So phenomenal. I mean, just phenomenal work with what you’re doing.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  And so from there, few years ago, 10CORE hosted in addition to the normal programming, where we invite groups and in turn have typically all day programming on different topics. And of course, we’re not presumptuous about what that group wants to know. The students began by asking the groups. So let’s say if we’re talking about veterans, the students would send information to that organization, make sure that the students were accommodating their requests because how dare us elect what that particular group needed to know. We weren’t that presumptuous. And so at this particular session, we were actually doing a symposium. So we sort of combine the academic component with that. And we invited academics from all over the country to come in to celebrate HUD’s 50th anniversary, so a couple of years ago. And of course, all of us spoke under one of the three umbrellas because the title of the symposium was HUD’s Past, Present and Future. And so with my academic hat on, I spoke under the future umbrella.

And one of the things that I asserted was that HUD is now 50 years old, however, much to my chagrin, if we go over to Rosa Parks Boulevard, which is one of the very well known areas that was, shall we say compromised by the riots, if you go over there, yes, things have changed, but there’s more work to do. And I said, “Come on, it’s been 50 years.” I said, “If we go into the projects that I used to pass on my way to the Gold Coast, sadly, not much has happened.” In other words, we have generational poverty and we’ve got generations of families who’ve been there for 50 years. And I said, “That suggests that we need a new normal, because something must not be quite right.”

And ultimately, I argued that what we needed to do was something that would change the trajectory in a new way that would enable these families to not only be exposed to what we call the American Dream, but that we had to provide an infrastructure, because ultimately, Melyssa, how are you supposed to have a dream if you can’t fathom what that dream is about? And those of us who had the opportunity to witness things, had the opportunity to see other folks doing things, if you’ve never seen it, there’s no way. And so in some respects, I challenged the premise that HUD was supposed to set up public housing as an interim measure, not as a final measure. And some way somehow, families have lived there forever.

Now, safe and affordable housing is our ultimate goal. But I said, we’ve got to do something different. So the 10CORE board ultimately recognized as well, we needed to create something different, we needed to do things differently. And so we came up with this concept that perhaps not only do we need to educate adults in the traditional sort of HUD certified counseling way, but that we also need to prepare our youth because we’ve got to get to them so they understand the interface between education and ultimately wealth building and ultimately buying their own house and beyond. And so we basically came up with this thought, why not put together a program? And that’s how 10CORE S.W.A.G. was born.

Melyssa Barrett:  Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back. Fantastic. That’s fantastic. So, and one of the things that’s interesting to me is knowing that you, as a lawyer, have come to the table, you’re actually utilizing law students as you deliver the content. So, and how does that impact, because I think one of the things that’s so interesting to me when we think about the social impact we want to make. So if corporations are looking to deliver funding and they want to actually support social impact, these are the kinds of programs where not only does the money actually allow communities to change, but you actually see generations impacted and really be the disruption of generational poverty because of the social impact that you may be making, which I think is just phenomenal.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Well, the beauty of the structure is that not only are we dealing with housing literacy, as I call it, but ultimately, these kids, oops, excuse me, we don’t call them kids, we call them CEOs because of our premise that we want them to have the right mindset about taking on this dream. So they are CEOs. And in fact, that’s where the conversation begins as part of our segments. But ultimately, it’s very important for them to see, you see, these students, many of whom come from similar backgrounds, who just happened to get a mentor or to come to the conclusion that they wanted to do some things differently. And the beauty of the program, you see, is that as we bring in the real world experts, the students, oops, the CEOs, are able to interface.

And one of the most beautiful moments that we had was when I was going to River Rouge High School. And we had a general contractor who came in. And one of the things that we try to do is to bring in some of the local businesses so that the students realize, guess what? You have power within your community. These are folks who are from your community. And the general contractor came in, talked to them about the performer, helping them to build their first house, talked about the subs, talked about how they have all of these activities for the subs.

Well, after that conversation, of course, the students found that interesting, but they walked over and they said, “Look, we want a job. How can we?” And so we are not only introducing housing literacy, but we are also exposing them to all the relevant parties in this process, because that’s our premise. This is part of a process and you got to understand how the game is played.

And so I have pictures, you see, of that general contractor who grew up not far from where that high school is, Downriver, in Detroit. He came up and said, “Guess what? If I can do it, so can you.” And for some, that’s all they needed to hear. And as a result, we had kids saying, “Well, yeah, I mean, I want to make sure that I get this done because yeah, I want to buy my first house and I can be a realtor when I’m 18. All I have to do is take a test.” So we’ve got all of these things that are suddenly triggering some excitement, some strategic planning. So we are not only hitting housing literacy, but we are also putting them in a position, again, to dream about their next step. That’s it.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s amazing. So then, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about building wealth, but I think as you know, going back to some of the challenges, some of the reasons you got into the business in the first place, I mean, there are predators out there looking for ways to inhibit growth. And so with mortgage fraud, I know you sat on President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. They created a Mortgage Fraud Summit. Are there things that people should be looking for when it comes to mortgage fraud and eliminate? I know the audience is probably all over the place. I’m actually getting ready to moderate a panel for first time home buyers, I think, next week.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Beautiful.

Melyssa Barrett:  So are there things that you might suggest as people think about buying a home, just things to be aware of?

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Well, let me say this, let me clarify. The US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan was the person who connected me to President Obama’s task force. And I was so honored because this was after the awful folks who had already come through, this was after they had been prosecuted and/or left. And so the goal was to try and structure something that could happen. And the US Attorney knew that I was speaking all over the place and trying to give people information. So now the same problems exist and will always exist because these predators know that people don’t have information.

And so to be honest with you, one of the things that I did as well was to create a product that enables people to learn the fundamentals. And so when it comes to mortgage fraud, the biggest challenge that everyone should always make sure they overcome is making sure that the organization is legitimate. There are so many organizations out there that purport to be these great, we’ll save you from foreclosure, we’ll be able to do all of these things, but people must always start by doing their due diligence just to make sure that it’s a legitimate organization.

And beyond that, I hate to say it, but you’ve got to hire counsel, you have to hire a lawyer. As much as I do pro bono work and we provide people with information, that’s only designed really to make sure that they don’t get taken even by a lawyer who may not have a clue. People need that basic information and go and find a legitimate lawyer, which you can do either by getting some good information and then do your due diligence on lawyers as well by calling the state bar association to make sure that there have been no complaints against them, go to a local law school, because I know that your podcast, of course, is national, go to a local law school that is probably also training its students to help.

And then finally, I just recommend that people understand what a mortgage is and the significance of signing that mortgage and note and the importance of it. And I have to tell you another story where this just really just floored me, but this is exactly why we have people in law school, of course, they’re learning this. But I was teaching my property class, Property One class. And we were talking about the significance, of course, of ordering title work and the significance of documents being recorded.

And there was a Latina in the classroom, who came up during the break and said, “Professor, wait a minute. My grandfather is about to buy a piece of property and pay cash.” And I said, “Well, did he order the title work?” She said, “This is the first time I’ve ever heard about that.” And in many ethnic groups, you see, there’s a lot of cash exchange.

And as we know, sometimes, of course, it is having that bank, that lender involved, who’s going to use all the protocols, but there are a lot of people out there who are getting taken because they don’t know the protocols and they’re doing these one-off deals. And what happen or what would have happened to her because she ran out of the classroom literally to call her grandfather and say, “Grandfather, stop the transaction.” Once they ordered title work, they discovered that there was a lien, there was a mortgage on that property for $75,000 that, of course, would not have been paid because they were about to give him cash.

So I say to my law students when we’re talking about service, I say, “You see, everyone’s not going to law school, everyone will not be privy to that particular problem. And in some jurisdictions or in some locales, where people are doing cash deals, all of this will simply go buy them. They won’t know.” So the mortgage fraud issue is directly, of course, connected to simply making sure you don’t go it alone because there’s so many ways, so many tricks that I could talk about that alone for another hour. I really could, sadly. We’re still there.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. It is. It’s crazy. So now, and I love the fact that, I think it’s in the 10CORE curriculum that there is a line in there that talks about access to justice through legal literacy.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Yes. That is our logo.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love that.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  That is our logo, access to justice through legal literacy. Because when we look at the scales of justice, we realize that ideally, in the best of all possible worlds, those scales are balanced, but this pandemic has unveiled, frankly, what many communities of color already knew, that those scales are imbalanced. We really didn’t need the additional statistics to know about the disparities that exist. We knew about those. And in fact, that’s another catalyst for what I’m trying to do because there’s only so much one can do, but it’s better than doing nothing.

And my position has been, I will always attempt to do whatever I can to, if you will, try and get those scales back in balance. And so to the extent that, I said before, the doctors and hourly workers kept us alive during this pandemic. But guess what? As lawyers, we also have a responsibility to do something in our lanes.

And so with this increase in, for example, the eviction challenge and the increase in, as we know, foreclosures that are going to hit, it just seemed to me that gave even more impetus for 10CORE to now, if you will, really focus on getting this programming done for students and the River Rouge Superintendent said it so aptly when he said, if we don’t bring this information to their ecosystems, they’ll never get it, which is another way of saying you can’t dream about what you don’t know. But if we can institutionally embrace trying to connect that baton, you see, something real powerful about being in a relay. And if we can connect that baton, because now there is no baton, or at least there’s one that we’re searching for, but through this S.W.A.G. program, 10CORE S.W.A.G. program, we are now positioning ourselves to get everybody engaged because you see, I don’t like this looking at statistics. That frustrates me.

And as a lawyer, again, I don’t want to just talk about the problem, I want to talk about how we can resolve it, I want to talk about some solutions. And this may not be the panacea, but we do know that at least we’re going to be able to reach, reach back to that group that’s just about to graduate, that’s just about to go to college. And so now I’m trying to get engaged with seeing if we can get the community colleges involved, get some credit for these high school students to simultaneously work on the programming because at River Rouge, now let me just talk a little bit more, the students met once a week for one hour to do the 10CORE S.W.A.G. program. We were carved into the economics program, the economics course. And I am just grateful to the River Rouge Superintendent and the principal and those economics teachers. And the students had just read the book, Evicted, but not only have they read the book, but here walks in 10CORE to enable them to actually experience that.

And so we’re just trying to create a new normal, we’ve got to do something else. We can’t go through another 50 years of generational poverty. And there’s nothing wrong, of course, with being in public housing. That’s why we created it, because people need someplace to live, but at the same time, we have to put people in a position where they have an option. And that’s what I’m most concerned about because I’m not sure that the programming that we have is creating that. But I think 10CORE S.W.A.G. is going to take us very close.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. I mean, the work that is being done is just phenomenal. I’m so glad to see that school districts are interested in promoting it as well, because it has to start early.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  It has to start early. And again, we’ve just been in River Rouge because we had to do a complete test case. We also did some programming at the Inkster projects. But right now, because of the pandemic, its become a divine thing for me. I’m thinking, wait a minute. Okay. There was a reason why we did our test case and now it’s time to expand. So I’m really going on a full court press, like sports and helping, a full court press, because I believe that this could really get some momentum. It doesn’t cost millions of dollars. I will start with my academic children, as I call them, the students, to help facilitate, we’re going to take an online so that we can avoid some of the concerns about having our speakers to go into the schools because the pandemic is still making all of us a little uncomfortable. I want to neutralize that, we’re going to put it online.

So ultimately, the plan is to say there’s no excuse now. We know statistically that we have work to do, let’s come up with creative, innovative ways to make youth who are waiting to take the baton, let’s find ways to make sure that they get to dream, but that they have a sense of what the dream is all about.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. This is transformational. I love it. I love it.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  I hope so. But I feel very strongly. And we say we want to change the trajectory one person, one family, one community at a time.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s fantastic. I don’t know a better place to end than with that because it is just so wonderful to hear about all the things that you’re doing and how we can begin to connect private and public partnerships to create the transformation that we need. And you are certainly leading the way in showcasing the business cases that you’re working with. And I love the fact that you even have mindset included in here, the fact when you start talking about CEO thinking and just changing the way that the perception is related to some of these students is monumental. I actually never thought that mindfulness was as big of a deal certainly, but the more I get into it, the more I realized it is the core of everything you do as a person. And if you get that early, you will traject yourself beyond what you think you can possibly impact.

So I just thank you so much for being here. I look forward to more conversations with you. We’d love to have you back talking more about some of the things that you’re doing. And if there’s anything we can do, we are just celebrating you and hoping that you will continue the intense and amazing work that you’re doing.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Well, thank you. And I am just so grateful that you’ve given me this opportunity just to share, because I truly believe that this pandemic, as awful as it has been, just might be setting us up for a new beginning. And so I’m hoping to at least try and do my part in my lane. But thank you so much, Melyssa. This has been wonderful.

Melyssa Barrett:  It is my pleasure. My pleasure. And you are, what’s interesting to me is you literally are using in diversity, equity, inclusion, we talk about the head, the heart and the hands, and you are promoting and utilizing all three, which is awesome to create the equity that we need. So kudos to you. And thank you so much for being here.

Florise Nevel-Ewell:  Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett:  Thanks for joining me on The Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.