“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
Americans are becoming less hopeful about their financial future. McKinsey & Company’s annual American Economic Opportunity survey found that people are struggling to remain positive under the burden of inflation, a potential economic downturn, and rising mortgage rates. As the American dream is threatened, mental health is suffering.
In a world burdened by hopelessness, Scripture promises us that God is “making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19). He will give direction when everything seems lost and provide resources when our reserves are depleted. Dave Umphress and Ingrid Hall are joining God’s redemptive work through The Flourish Real Estate Network. This group of real estate agents and teams is dedicated to restoring hope and creating opportunities in Denver and beyond.
“Our vision is to create or enable flourishing communities, careers, and lives,” Dave says.
The vision started with Dave and his wife’s plan to be missionaries in Africa. They came to Denver “kicking and screaming,” positive they were on a layover until God sent them to Africa. As more time passed, they were slowly convinced Denver was home. However, their passion for Africa never went away. When Dave “stumbled” into real estate four years later, partnering his work with outreach in Africa was a no-brainer.
“At the time, we saw a lot of brokenness internationally. It was very easy and social media-friendly to partner with international causes,” Dave explains. “We’d take a flight every other year, oversee the cause, hang out with people, and snap a few pictures. It was much more difficult to get our hands dirty locally.”
Ideas to expand local involvement began to take shape when Dave completed the 5280 Fellowship through Denver Institute, a nine-month program in spiritual formation, professional development, and civic influence that forms Christian professionals to serve God, neighbor, and society through their daily work. He found the program so valuable that he paid for Ingrid, his Director of Operations, to complete the program a year later.
Early in the program, Brian Gray, the Fellowship director, challenges the fellows with a question: “Where do you see brokenness in your industry or city?” That question motivated Dave and Ingrid to explore how they could use their work to bless others on a local level. As a result, they created The Flourish Alliance, a 501(c)(3) that focuses on issues that limit someone’s ability to live a flourishing life. Here’s how it works: The Flourish Real Estate Network gives over 25 percent of the profits from real estate closings to The Flourish Alliance. Then, The Flourish Alliance uses that money to write grants for organizations addressing areas of brokenness such as food insecurity, human trafficking, and homelessness.
Good jobs are a key component of individual and community health. In an industry with a 92 percent failure rate, Dave and Ingrid are determined to create flourishing careers for their real estate agents as a first step to building a flourishing community “We can help somebody radically transform their life by building a career they’re proud of,” Dave says. They do this through generous commission splits, a network of career support, and encouraging input on the human flourishing causes they endorse. In turn, agents can create the type of career they want, provide for their families, and make an impact.
The agents proceed to help clients secure their dream homes. Many of these clients never thought homeownership was possible. Dave once worked with a couple with $240,000 in student debt. At the 11th hour, the lender said the couple couldn’t close on a house because their student debt was too high. So, Dave and another agent agreed to put their commissions toward the cash the couple needed to close. “Nobody made any money, but they got to buy their house. Three or four years later, they refinanced their home and completely paid off their student loans,” Dave says.
Affordable housing plays a vital role in a flourishing life. Homeownership can alter the course of someone’s financial future and break cycles of generational poverty. According to research done by Habitat for Humanity, U.S. homeowners have an average net wealth 400% higher than renters with similar demographics and earnings. The Flourish Real Estate Network plans to launch a first-time homeowner class this year and make it available to a population who might not otherwise have access.
“Brian Gray is helping us with the class. One of the great things about Denver Institute is the connections that can be made to other places and people without reinventing the wheel,” Ingrid says.
The Flourish Alliance is all about connections. They are classified as a grant-writing nonprofit and strategically partner with other organizations actively working toward human flourishing. “Our partners tell our story better than anything else,” Ingrid says.
For example, they work closely with The Gracefull Community Cafe, a pay-what-you-can eatery in downtown Littleton. They aim to eliminate food insecurity and build community through shared meals. Then there’s Habitat for Humanity, which aims to provide affordable housing. They also partner with The Village Preschool, a local Title 1 school committed to the next generation’s flourishing. Internationally, The Flourish Alliance remains connected to Africa through partnerships with nonprofits like Blood: Water, which aims to end health disparities related to water, sanitation, and HIV/AIDS.
At the end of the day, The Flourish Real Estate Network’s goal is to bring hope to their agents, clients, and communities. It’s all part of stewarding what they have for the glory of God, and they don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
“We don’t know how long we have on earth,” Dave says. “But for now, we’ve been entrusted with a lot. It’s our responsibility to steward it at 100%.”
André Dua, “How Americans are feeling about economic opportunities and the future,” McKinsey & Company (August 5, 2022), accessed March 31, 2023, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/sustainable-inclusive-growth/future-of-america/how-americans-are-feeling-about-economic-opportunities-and-the-future.
Habitat for Humanity, “Research Series: Outcomes Associated with Homeownership,” (2022), accessed March 30, 2023, https://www.habitat.org/our-work/impact/research-series-outcomes-associated-with-homeownership.
Hannah is a Georgia girl who loves writing and hearing people’s stories. She currently serves as the developmental intern for Denver Institute for Faith and Work and works as the lead copywriter at WealthBuilders. She is interested in the intersection of faith, work, and business, which makes working with the DIFW team a huge blessing. In her free time, Hannah enjoys spending time with her husband, Mason, and puppy, Gabe, cooking, being in the sun, and writing for her blog, milkandhoneyco.org.