More than 150 aspiring developers apply for training program benefiting Wilmington residents 

Since the Jumpstart Wilmington program was first launched in October 2020, 39 emerging developers have completed the intensive four-week training program through five sessions. 

The purpose of Jumpstart Wilmington is to promote the growth of local developer capacity through training and development to support neighborhood revitalization and community development solutions. Jumpstart Wilmington will help Wilmington residents and people committed to revitalizing Wilmington to become developers of their own neighborhood through quality, community-focused real estate development training. Demand was high, with more than 150 people applying to the program, filling the first five cohorts – held in October 2020 and February, May, August, and December 2021 – and creating a waiting list for 2022 cohorts. 

Participants began the program by attending training sessions consisting of 14 hours of classes covering nine key development topics. Over the span of the program, 26 subject matter experts have shared their expertise and experience with the students. Additionally, we currently have 15 committed mentors paired with our eligible program graduates. {To learn more about becoming a mentor, please click here}. 

The program is modeled after the Jumpstart Germantown Program, created to facilitate the revitalization of the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia through high-quality residential renovations. After consulting with various community and development stakeholders in Wilmington, it was clear that increased local developer capacity in Wilmington was the key to scaling development activity and revitalizing communities more rapidly and that Wilmington could benefit from a Jumpstart program. Cinnaire’s 12-member Jumpstart Wilmington Advisory Committee which consisted of non-profit and profit developers, city and state agency representatives, and community-based organizations, provided advice to help adapt the Jumpstart program for a Wilmington development environment. {Click here for a list of advisory members.}

“We are committed to creating opportunities to increase representation and involving the Wilmington community in revitalizing and stabilizing their neighborhood. Community members can serve as one of the best resources for effective positive change and equitable development in their neighborhood. We want to create a vehicle in which expertise and resources are accessible to encourage community involvement in community development,” said Dionna J. Sargent, Vice President, Cinnaire Community Development and founder of Jumpstart Wilmington. 

Vanity Sanders, a Wilmington resident and a member of the second cohort, was eager to take advantage of this opportunity, knowing the program’s benefits could be exponential. “It’s free and available to all of us who want to make a difference,” she said. “We always talk about the wealth gap. We talk about legacy building, and now here’s a program for Black and Brown people that can help us create a legacy for ourselves and our families.” 

Jumpstart Wilmington Training Sessions 

The Jumpstart Wilmington program, developed and launched by Cinnaire, consists of three components: real estate development training, mentoring and networking, and financing. Cinnaire selected the University of Delaware’s Biden School of Public Policy and Administration Center for Community Research and Service to assist with the program administration through a RFP process. 

“The Jumpstart training program is intensive. It’s not just a workshop talking about high-level concepts,” explained Quincy Watkins, a business owner and member of Jumpstart’s third cohort. “It is a soup to nuts resource where you learn about contracts, licensing, how to manage a property, financing, environmental concerns… everything was covered.” 

Each session features multiple presenters who are knowledgeable about developments, with extensive experience in the local real estate market and a deep involvement in Wilmington neighborhoods. More importantly, they share a common bond with Jumpstart participants – all are committed to addressing long-standing community and economic development issues, such as reducing blight, creating safe and affordable housing, and keeping resources and capital in Wilmington. 

“The speakers were engaging and interactive, answering questions and sharing practical tips during and after the lessons,” said Watkins. “They assigned exercises to determine our retention, and then they provided us with their contact information in case we needed help moving forward. In each session, you felt like you got all the information you needed.” 

Mentoring and Networking Support 

Once the training component is completed, participants who complete the program are eligible to be paired with an experienced developer who can provide one-on-one mentorship, deal structuring, property sourcing, and problem-solving strategies. 

To encourage program participants to build a robust developer networking, Jumpstart Wilmington hosts events designed to facilitate relationship-building with members of the development community. Most recently, a cohort mixer was held in Wilmington on July 1, 2021, where nearly 25 graduates of the Jumpstart Wilmington training program attended to network, share experiences and future development plans, and potential projects on which they could collaborate. 

Additional training is offered through monthly Kickstart Sessions – a complementary component of Jumpstart Wilmington, which focuses on specific development topics. These sessions are open to the broader development community and can provide additional networking opportunities. 

Sarah Lester, who served on the Jumpstart Wilmington advisory committee and participated in the second cohort, explained, “One of the most valuable components of Jumpstart is that it introduces participants to a variety of key stakeholders who helped us learn best practices. We met people in city and state departments, contractors, architects, licensing and inspection inspectors – the people that make a project possible.” 

Funding and Future Steps 

The final, and perhaps largest hurdle for aspiring developers, is financing. Cinnaire has launched the Jumpstart Wilmington pilot loan program that will serve as a source of capital for acquisition and/or construction financing for Jumpstart Wilmington graduates’ development projects. 

“Access to capital is extremely important when talking about creating opportunities, especially for people of color,” said Dionna Sargent. “As a Community Development Financial Institution, Cinnaire is committed to ensuring we can support impactful community development projects and, particularly, our Jumpstart Wilmington graduates, by creating a vehicle in which we can provide loan capital for acquisition and rehabilitation. As a mission-driven lender, our Jumpstart Wilmington loan program will provide a financial resource for graduates while preparing them to seek future funding from traditional banking institutions.” 

Ivey Ibrahim agreed. He works for Central Baptist Community Development Corporation in Wilmington’s Eastside neighborhood. He registered for Jumpstart Wilmington hoping to improve the lives of people in his community. “There is a mission-driven component when you are developing housing in your own neighborhood. You could make more money investing outside of Wilmington, but when you understand you’re not just investing in yourself but in your community – that is the heart of the matter.”

Please visit https://jumpstartwilmington.org for more information about our program and application process.