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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
Michael Woods Dream Builders 4 Equity

Michael Woods

Co-Founder & President

Dream Builders 4 Equity

Location: St. Louis, MO

Founded: 2016

Industry: Nonprofit

Raised in North St. Louis and County, Michael Woods’ journey to entrepreneurship began at 9 when he started working alongside his father, the owner of multiple body shops, used car dealerships and investment properties. Each summer, Woods immersed himself in the family business and while with his father, noticed how elderly city hall employees had to rush back to work from lunch.

“They didn’t own their time, his father sadly reflected, highlighting their lack of control over it,” said his staff. “This moment ignited Michael’s determination to control his time and commitment to have agency over his life.”

It was when Woods crossed paths with Neal Richardson, discovering a shared love and passion for the St. Louis Community, that they joined forces to co-found Dream Builders 4 Equity in 2016.

Dream Builders 4 Equity is working to develop economically sustainable and socially engaged communities by growing equity for youth, businesses, residents and real estate. The organization believes that the foundation of thriving communities lies in equitable resources and opportunities and tackles the vacant home epidemic plaguing the St. Louis region by doing large scale community-led developments in neighborhoods that have been historically divested in, growing them into thriving communities where residents have the opportunity to live out their full potential.

As the author of four books, Woods used his journey to inspire and teach youth about owning their own stories and even donated one of his properties to Dream Builders 4 Equity, kickstarting rehabilitation projects within the organization. “From witnessing his father’s entrepreneurship to founding Dream Builders 4 Equity, Michael’s journey exemplifies his dedication to ownership, accountability, and uplifting his community through entrepreneurship,” said his colleagues.

As a result, the organization won the WashU SEI competition for the innovative nonprofit. Over the span of the next five years, Woods said the organization will impact 250 city youth directly in its academy, 25 families new to home ownership and 25 resident homeowners.

“Once you have a vision, you activate it by taking the first steps and these first steps are proof of your faith,” said Woods. “Most folks never start; they wait with the hope of figuring it all out but by then folks who believed and took action have already failed, learned and manifested their vision.”

In order to be a successful leader, Woods said you have to be persistent. “The journey will be hard because the vision is big, but you have to be willing to continue to fight for it daily,” he said. “Most will quit, but the folks who persevere end up spending so much time with the issues that they come up with solutions.”

For creating a vision and solutions for the St. Louis community, Woods has been named a Titan 100.

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Did you know?

My superpower is encouragement. I think my superpower is to see the best in people and direct them to becoming the best versions of themselves. Showing them their power and who they truly are. When someone believes in you and really does give you wings.

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