“It starts really with housing,” Dunn said. “That’s the quickest way to build wealth in this country for families, but also having stability creates opportunity for kids to live a better and stable life, to perform better in school, to want to thrive and just want to be better. Having stable housing is key to that.”
Dunn founded the “Homes for the Holidays” program as a rookie in the NFL to fulfill his mother’s dream of home ownership for single-parent families, and it has since helped 189 homeowners and 512 dependents in 24 markets. His mother, police officer Betty Smothers, was killed in the line of duty in 1993, two days after Dunn turned 18. He helped raise his five siblings while going to Florida State.
Over the years, Dunn’s home-building program has transitioned to also helping families and children learn financial literacy and teaching them how to eat healthy and affordable meals.
“There’s so many issues and inequalities that families face when it comes to home ownership, the opportunity to help advance their families with education,” Dunn said. “When you live in low-income communities, usually the schools are not high-performing schools. They just don’t have the same resources and access to health care and so forth in these low-income, moderate communities. For me, it’s really supporting those families and those individuals along that journey of home ownership, but also pushing them to do their part. We don’t give handouts. What we do is we really assist families and give them a hand up.”
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