In 2018, Brandon “Stix” Salaam-Bailey founded THINKWATTS Foundation. He was born and raised in Watts, California, and witnessed first hand how systemic poverty created a vicious cycle that underserved individuals can find difficult to break. He created his 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the goal of serving Watts and similar struggling communities.

Now he has agreed to discuss THINKWATTS’s new developmental project initiative. The multifaceted project, which encompasses affordable housing units, single-family homes, a sports complex, a trade school, retail spaces, a makerspace village, and a technology center, is aimed at empowering and uplifting communities in need.

Q: Can you tell us more about the new developmental project that THINKWATTS Foundation is working on?

A: Absolutely. The new project initiative is co-developed with Primestor, and is all about providing opportunities for underserved communities to strive. We’re building affordable housing units and single-family homes to give people a place to live that’s safe and affordable. The sports complex is going to be state-of-the-art and will provide a space for kids to play and stay active. The trade school is focused on electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling careers, which is an emerging industry that we believe will be a big part of the future.

We’re also creating small retail spaces and a makerspace village to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in the community.

Q: That sounds like a really comprehensive project. What was the inspiration behind it?

A: Our mission at THINKWATTS Foundation is to empower and uplift communities that have been historically underserved and overlooked. We believe that education and workforce development are the keys to breaking the cycle of poverty and providing people with the tools they need to succeed. The inspiration behind this project is the idea that by providing people with affordable housing, education, and job opportunities, we can create a stronger and more equitable community.

Q: What kind of impact do you think this project will have on the community?

A: We’re hoping that this project will have a transformative impact on the communities. By providing people with affordable housing, we’re helping them achieve stability and security, which is a foundation for success. The sports complex will provide kids with a safe and fun place to play, which can be especially important in communities where there are few recreational opportunities. The trade school will give people the skills and training they need to succeed in an emerging industry, and the makerspace village will encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

Q: How does THINKWATTS Foundation plan to sustain this project over time?

A: Sustainability is a key part of our vision for this project. We’re partnering with local organizations, businesses, and individuals to help fund and support these initiatives. We’re also working to create a self-sustaining ecosystem, where the businesses and entrepreneurs who graduate from our programs can contribute back to the community and help create new opportunities for others. Additionally, we’re exploring ways to make this project financially self-sustaining through innovative financing models and partnerships with private companies.

Q: What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced in implementing this project, and how have you overcome them?

A: One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is securing funding for this project. We’re a nonprofit organization, so we rely on grants, donations, and partnerships to fund our initiatives. It can be difficult to convince potential partners and donors to invest in a project of this scale, especially in an underserved community. However, we’ve been fortunate to have the support of many local businesses and individuals who share our vision for a stronger and more equitable community. We’ve also been working hard to build relationships with government agencies and foundations that support community development projects.

It’s been a learning process for us, but we’ve been fortunate to have experienced professionals on our team who have helped us navigate these challenges.

Q: What are your plans for the future of THINKWATTS Foundation? 

A: Our ultimate goal is to create a sustainable and thriving community that provides opportunities for all of its residents. In the near future, we plan to continue expanding our programming to include even more workforce development opportunities, including training and certification programs in emerging fields like renewable energy and technology. We also want to continue to focus on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs in our community, through initiatives like our entrepreneurship workshops and small retail spaces.

In the long term, we want to see our community grow and flourish, with new opportunities for housing, education, and employment. We hope to continue building partnerships with other organizations and businesses to make this vision a reality. Ultimately, our goal is to create a model for community development that can be replicated in other underserved communities, providing a roadmap for breaking the cycle of poverty and creating opportunities for all.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to make a positive impact in their own community? 

A: My advice would be to start small and build relationships. It’s important to take the time to listen to the needs and concerns of the people in your community, and to work with them to identify the most pressing issues. From there, you can start to build a network of like-minded individuals and organizations who share your vision for a stronger and more equitable community. Collaboration is key, so it’s important to be open to working with others and to be willing to compromise when necessary.

It’s also important to be persistent and to stay focused on your goals, even when faced with setbacks or challenges. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it often requires a lot of hard work and dedication. But by staying committed to your vision and building strong relationships within your community, you can create lasting change that will benefit generations to come.

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