By Casey Verbeck, Director, Business Development

Living in lovely Boulder, Colorado with my wife and two kids is an amazing and wonderful experience, but I will never forget where I came from: the other side of the tracks outside of St. Louis.

Even amid this Rocky Mountain splendor, I’m reminded that not everyone is living the dream. We live in a time when 33 million people in the U.S. do not know how they will get their next meal.

Right here in Boulder we have too many people of all ethnic backgrounds living below the poverty line – 14% of the population. The equality gap is further dividing us from one another, dimming the hope of millions of people who long for change for their families and children and the opportunity to make the world a better place.

What Can We Do?

My modest upbringing motivated me to work hard, and it helped me succeed. But not everyone is as fortunate, and the institutions that are supposed to benefit all of us are fraying faster than we can repair them.

We have public school systems with limited resources and packed classrooms; teachers who are underpaid, in stressed communities and trying to do the job of three; healthy foods that are simply not affordable to many; and rationed healthcare because of the serious limitations of our system.

We need a new formula and a new set of principles that elevates the conversation about equality for all. Collectively, we should aspire to a standard of living that is more than simply getting by.

Start Locally

Systemic change comes with deep understanding, and it should start in our backyard. By visiting local neighborhoods we normally don’t go to, or participating in local nonprofits, we connect with our community and begin creating systemic change.

I’ve experienced this firsthand as an advisory board member of Accion and my work with like-minded Community Investment institutions. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) were just beginning to have significant presence ten years ago with $14 Billion in assets. Today, CDFIs have grown to $61.4 Billion in assets to meet growing U.S. demand. It’s not just about the loans made available to those who would never qualify for a loan. It’s also about the importance of understanding the culture and belief systems of those who benefit from these programs.

Nothing is more rewarding than helping people in our community build their knowledge and skills, so they can achieve financial security and begin accumulating wealth for themselves and future generations. Through impact investing Veris works closely with other leaders in the rapidly growing Community Wealth Building movement to support lasting change.

By working together in our own communities, we can provide those most in need with the guidance, support network and capital to help them succeed. The first step is to begin a dialogue with those who come from the other side of the tracks to see how we can do something great together.

Veris is committed to investing in our community investment partners throughout the nation to bring this vision into reality. It’s more about the “we” and less about the “I.”