I was excited to get the opportunity to interview Michael and Kimberly Miller of Empire Dreams. I really cannot say enough about the heart of these two people, both Michael and Kimberly bring hard won understanding and compassion to empower those they serve.
Empire Dreams takes a practical approach to changing lives and reviving neighborhoods one person at a time. Whether working with an individual’s finances, life choices or helping that same individual start a new business, Empire Dreams focuses on the whole person.
Take the time to listen and meet the people behind an organization I believe will play a key role in rebuilding the ancient ruins of this beautiful Kansas City. Empire Dreams is empowering communities in the urban core to overcome poverty and instability.
Nathan Sack 00:00
Thanks for joining us for another Faith Horizons podcast. The purpose of a Faith Horizons podcast is to discover the kingdom of God in Kansas City one conversation at a time. I was excited to get the opportunity to interview Michael and Kimberly Miller of Empire Dreams. I really cannot say enough about the heart of these two people. Both Michael and Kimberly bring hard won understanding and compassion to those they serve. Empire Dreams takes a practical approach to changing lives in reviving neighborhoods, one person at a time. Whether working with an individual’s finances, life choices, or helping that same individual start a new business, Empire Dreams focuses on the whole person. Take the time to listen and meet the people behind an organization I believe will play a key role in rebuilding the ancient ruins of this beautiful Kansas City. Both Michael and Kim work together to bring different solutions to long standing issues in our city. Here’s my conversation with Michael and Kimberly Miller. Well, I’d like to welcome Kimberly and Michael Miller to the Faith Horizons podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about Empire Dreams. Just so excited about talking about Empire Dreams. Well, welcome.
Michael Miller 01:23
Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Nathan Sack 01:25
So just give us a brief overview of what Empire Dreams is. Whoever wants to speak. And just let us know kind of the kind of like, what is the purpose of Empire Dreams? And then what was the initial problems that you’re trying to solve and the solution you’re trying to bring?
Kimberly Miller 01:45
So yeah, so the mission of Empire Dreams is to support the development and sustainability of thriving and empower communities in Kansas City’s urban core. And so that’s kind of like our fancy term. And that’s what we’re really trying to do. We live in Kansas City’s urban core, it’s our people, it’s our community, we see a lot of the problems that our community faces a lot of systems and structures that can hinder them from growth or stability, or just entering into the fullness of their potential. Their calling, their destiny. And so we have developed an innovative grassroots holistic model of community development. And so yeah, so we go in and target low-income housing projects, and really look for the hidden unseen entrepreneurs and leaders in Kansas City’s urban core, and we support them to growth.
Michael Miller 02:35
Another part of it also is really grassroots. So, for example, we just did an accelerator I, I would like to think of it more as an incubator, because an accelerator is like people already have established IBM Business or marketplace. But with these, these were more entrepreneurs, like people who had dreams, but didn’t know how to put those dreams on paper, pitch it and actually get to the marketplace to even have that. So it was more than incubated to where it was more about birthing, holistic entrepreneurs who actually take the idea, get it on paper. And the thing that gets lost for most of us is we just think it’s so easy to just go from idea, go get a loan go make it happen. Well, you’re dealing with generational poverty, you’re dealing with second, third class poverty, like older generations, you know what I mean? So they need a lot more encouragement, a lot more investment, and it’s not the snap of the fingers. Well, you didn’t do right the first second time, so get out of the way. And that’s become kind of a predatory system in America. And it’s infiltrated a lot into the minds of Christians. Like we don’t really combat that because we we’ve learned to be almost too much in the role of Chaldeans as opposed to just learning how to operate that way.
Nathan Sack 03:45
Yeah. So why did you guys decide to start Empire Dreams? What was the lead up to this organization and some of your backstory because I know that you didn’t just didn’t just happen, you know, a lot of times these ministries, or these businesses are the result of are kind of like the fruit of our life.
Kimberly Miller 04:06
Yeah, so I’ve always worked with families in urban settings and environments, been in Kansas City for about 14 years, maybe just always in the community, working with families did social services for about the last 10 years worked for a local nonprofit, and, and even before that, throughout all those years, I’ve always just had a gifting for developing programs, to programs that are solutions to societal problems in the community. And they always were, like a rehab center for men and woman coming out of prison workforce training programs, just kind of a gifting. And so being in the nonprofit sector and seen a lot of the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of that system, and how it wasn’t actually empowering our community, but really enabling them to remain kind of stuck in the same mindsets, same conditions and that no one really got to know the people was kind of like, you know, we’re better than we come in, we save them. We take our data points, we do our metrics so we can get more funding. And it was like, no, the only way our community is going to transform is if we walk hand in hand with them, and we build intentional relationships. So yeah, a few years ago, the Lord woke me up in the middle of the night was like, Hey, Kim, I want you to start an organization called Empire Dreams and told me what it was. And at the time, I was really discouraged. I had been working on a few other nonprofits, and I kept having kids. Part of our story was always like, to the point I’m about to launch and then I had a baby.
Michael Miller 05:35
That whole tricky business being married.
Kimberly Miller 05:39
We had been working on this housing initiative for a while and just was like, come on Jesus, I have like 10 different business plans. Like, if you give me one more business idea that I can’t make happen, like, I’m done, right? And so just kind of put it on a shelf, and was like, Okay, I’m gonna do this one day. And then I lost my job this past March 2021. And whole nonprofit sector stuff. And at the time, the Lord said, I had a week to finish a grant for the city with this nonprofit, I was accepted into a program to develop it, and was just like, Okay, I know, the Lord’s telling me to do this random friend of ours called hadn’t talked to him for years and was like, Hey, God just told me you’re gonna start a nonprofit. I was like, I am. I’m doing it right now. And so but yeah, so we really, for me, it was like, I don’t need to start another nonprofit, right? We aren’t Kansas City is littered with endless nonprofits. And so unless it’s something from the heart of God, built by Him, structured by Him, envisioned by Him. And we’re able to actually come in and do something transformative that I haven’t seen in the past. I was like, I don’t have the energy to do this. I’ll just don’t join another nonprofit, but really felt like God gave us a vision for organic community development, building out a lot of curriculums, a lot of programming. Everything’s really grassroots, knowing the community being in the community. And so we’re just trusting the Lord. To yeah, just trusting Him. Because at the end of the day, I’m like, this is a lot of work. But yeah, so that was just Yeah, a lot of my past and my upbringing, identify with what it is to be broken, what it is to have no hope, what it is to have a lot of trauma, and to also see the destiny and hear the destiny of God over my life. And so yeah, so I want to bring that to my community, I want to see everyone that people would you know, forget or despise or not care about and be like, no, this is who you’re called to be and we’re gonna support you to get there.
Nathan Sack 07:46
So cool. So Michael, will you just along for the ride or?
Michael Miller 07:53
Okay, so I, like I told you before we started recording, I’m born and raised here. So I wanted nothing to do with urban core anymore. Like at all it, it ruined my family, between poverty and drugs, like I had no parents. So I spent a lot of time figuring life out on my own. So by the time everything came full circle, and I was ready to do this and get back into the urban core, I was kind of knee deep in it already, I didn’t realize it, I just got my degree. It was a wrestle between, because I hated math. So I thought I could be an engineer first. And then I realized all the math you had to do, I got to do it. I’ll be the first in my family to get a degree. So I did psychology. And then I ended up with a nonprofit as well. And I loved it because it was a lot of reentry, which is for those who don’t know, reentry, it’s about helping men and women coming back home from prison. And I love that part of it. What I did not like is the toxic leadership and the narcissism that was involved in that and how the nonprofit sector really functioned a lot like a corporate fortune 500 business, and you get so lost and trying to help these people, but you have leadership who doesn’t really care hit the numbers hit the grand number so we can get more funding. And as soon as you hit the numbers, who cares about follow up, that that’s really what the process was like. And so you had that you had that one end of the spectrum. And then you had another end of the spectrum with most inner-city congregations. Most of those men and women are treading water. They’re working jobs throughout the week. So what I tend to get to church on Sunday, Sunday is not really even a ministry anymore. It’s more about some kind of relief to go back into the work week. And so you had these polar opposites, churches not really functioning to the degree to where they should be or could be helping these people that are broken. And then you had the nonprofit sector where just a bunch of brokenness, people talked a good game to get in the door to get the grant money or the funding and it was just as ruthless as being you know, and a for profit sector. And I started realizing that but then also started realizing Kim and I had this crazy gift and anointing that we did not ask for. But I mean, I would literally just be in a grocery store and have young men who would just pour their guts out to me they just broke up with a girlfriend. And I’d have opportunities to minister to him again. And it would be super inconvenient because I was just trying to get mac and cheese to get the kids from crying at the house. And Kim had all these moms who looked at her like a big sister, almost like a mother figure. And she’s younger than them half the time and started realizing this is a really grassroot thing that the Lord is doing. And we can just keep trying to fit into the world and make money. Or we can learn to partner with the Lord and let the money come. We’re still waiting for the money to come. But what ended up happening for me is, I got this heart for reentry, and getting these men the skills they needed. And the women the skills they needed to get a job and get stable. And then think about entrepreneurship. But then that’s when it starts dawning on me. There are so many preconceived notions about life and how people can get on the straight and narrow. And I think Kim and I’s journey has been a little bit more like Joseph. And when everybody thinks about the story of Joseph to think of this, this guy became second and command and just great nation, but really what they, we all failed to really realize that was a systemic failure. That’s really parallel on the allegory now. So the way our society looks, because it’s his father who loves his son, but the other sons get in the way. And they hate him so much for all that favor, right? And he ends up being a king in a house that he wasn’t supposed to be a King in, he’s supposed to be in the house of Jacob. He was supposed to be king and ruler in there. But he had to figure out how to go into the world. And the Lord gave him plenty of favor and grace to do that. But he had to figure that out. You know, and so that’s really what I see for Kim and I is we have to figure a lot of things out, troubleshooting, like, it wasn’t cookie cutter, we weren’t able to plan everything out and it goes the way it’s supposed to go.
Nathan Sack 11:48
Thank you so much for explaining all that. Just to start up and, you know, kind of the heart behind it and some of the struggle. Because it really is, you know, a lot of times, the reason why we create these programs or these programs, these ministries is because there is a struggle, and we have a solution that would make this struggle, help people overcome that struggle. So what would you say Empire Dreams is and what is it not? So like, if I was to come to Empire Dreams, and I’m just a person who wants to get help, and I want some food is Empire Dreams is gonna help with that. I mean, I’m sure you could point me in the right direction. But that’s not the ministry of our dreams, right?
Kimberly Miller 12:27
Right. So we empower people to achieve the dreams that they have in any area of their lives. And so when you come to us, we’re going to build your whole person, like even we just finished this business accelerator, we realized we’re not just building businesses, we’re literally building people in a holistic manner. Everything from mindsets, mentalities, home life, like it’s the whole person that we are building and that’s what really sets us apart in the business landscape. It’s, we’re not concerned if you come like, obviously you want, we want you to launch a successful business, but, but we’re building you as a person to be successful in every area of your life. And so yeah, when you come to us, we’re gonna walk with you hand in hand to achieve your dreams and goals in your life. And so we do in home life coaching, focusing on family stabilization, personal growth, professional development, and then entreleadership and entrepreneurial empowerment. We have moms groups, it’s our community support group we meet every week, break down social isolation, pull assets and resources in the community, raise up leaders and like mama leaders, but it’s really fun. It’s my favorite. Literally my favorite time every week is coming to our moms groups, and we just we become best friends and all our birthday parties are together, and we go on outings. So we have moms groups, I do an in school entrepreneurship, creative thinking program for the little ones. And then we have our business accelerator. And so a lot of what we also do is we do community engagement events. So we target low income housing projects. Also even on our own block. We do all summer long community engagement, but we bring the community together, we play we have fun, we find the gifts and the talents in the community and we build like real deep lasting relationships with the community. I just I went out once and you know, we raked someone’s lawn or know, like we get to know each other. Like I still connect with all my families for the last five, six years. And so and then through that, really engaging being with a community breaking down social disorganization through relationships through connection through joy through opportunities and resources, because you really need tangible opportunities and resources you got to have hope. You got to have someone to encourage you but then you really need the tangible resources opportunities to move ahead. But yeah, so we’re in the community a lot doing a lot of these events and that’s where the moms we work with come from for the life coaching because we played all summer you know, we connected we got to know each other’s kids, they have relationship. Yeah, it’s intentional relationship. And then and then you can really go deep with someone because they’re willing to be vulnerable. They’re willing to be honest, they’re willing to let you see everything, they don’t let a case worker see, you know, they’re gonna let you see all the things they’re hiding, right? All the incidents, they lie, right, they’re gonna they’re gonna let you see it all and but then you can grow with them and then you can believe with them. And I think that’s the biggest thing we offer is we believe in people. Even with our recent business accelerator, I think everyone wanted to quit at least once a week, there’d be tears, it’d be crying, there’d be Kim, you’re not quitting. I believe in you. This is who you are like. Right. And so, yeah, we just didn’t have time for that. We’re gonna do this. But that’s honestly that I think that the phrase I use more often than any, it’s, I believe in you. And, yeah, and so we believe in our community, and we see them for who they’re created to be outside of all the things that have held someone down outside the current situations, and we’re going to see them get there, regardless of what it takes. And honestly, it can be really hard, and it can be really long. But I think that’s what our community needs. It’s not just a program, if we’re going to invest in someone’s development. I mean, I just think about my kids. It’s a lot of investing in these little ones, they take a lot of time and energy and not saying our communities like kids, but even me like we all need someone to invest in us and believe in us and help us when we’re stuck. And sometimes we’re just stuck, especially with a lot of the mentalities and the powerlessness we address a lot of powerlessness in the community. And our whole curriculum that we’re building out is on breaking mentalities to change behaviors. And so yeah, so that’s a little bit what we do. Yeah. So go ahead.
Michael Miller 16:31
Oh, so I mean, a little bit more of what we’re not either is-
Nathan Sack 16:35
What are you not? You get the wrong phone call. You’re like, I don’t help you.
Michael Miller 16:40
Right. And so we don’t turn people away. But what we also have had to guard ourselves from is, again, this high level elitism that doesn’t get checked in the individual that mean well, so there’s a lot of guys who are in the Christian realm do business, but they’re so high level critical, like, we don’t disqualify the people, like in general, what you see a lot when people have a business ideas, you don’t say it, but you hint at it and other people, we can nod and shuffle their feet, and they know what you mean, when you’re saying all that business idea needs to be flushed out. And what we actually do is we flush that out with the person. And we don’t disqualify them, because I don’t think they’re ready yet. They don’t have any experience. Well, you’ve never written a million-dollar business plan before. All that kind of goofy stuff that is so commonplace. We focus more on, you haven’t. So how do we cut your teeth to do that? How do we get you to that place where you can one day, do a big business plan. And this is not something that’s so scary to you anymore, right? And we again, it goes back to experiencing a lot of those hurdles, where you go and get your degree, right. And you want this big fancy job, but people won’t hire you because you don’t have any experience? Well, I got to experience if you won’t, you know what I mean? If there’s not an apprenticeship, right? Or you can’t get the house because you don’t have the credit, like, what we don’t do is we don’t find reasons to disqualify people. Because they’re not ready yet. What we do is we find reasons to get people qualified. And that’s really a big mind shift. That has not happened in a lot of a lot of circles in society, namely in the Bride of Christ, and also in the nonprofit sector. So that’s what we are not, we’re not looking to disqualify people, nor are we looking to, to be toxic for people to where we just give them what they want. And they don’t learn how to figure life out on their own. So we do. So there will be times where there will be an emergency, right? Like one night, one of our moms got into a car wreck, right? And they’re freaking out on the side of the road. And so I’m up and I’m over there, I’m helping them figure it out until police and ambulance arrived. But to follow up conversation is okay, so how do we do this better? Okay, we get roadside assistance, right? We get some kind of Jack in our car, right? If it’s a flat tire, we don’t just go panic mode, we make sure we insure against that, right? And you’ll be surprised how many people have never heard of roadside assistance. Like in urban core. Like, again, it’s such a mentality.
Nathan Sack 19:08
I regularly use roadside assistance.
Michael Miller 19:12
But people in urban core don’t think about that. They’re like, huh?
Nathan Sack 19:15
It’s usually like $5 to $10 extra per month on your, it pays for itself. One time it’ll pay for itself.
Michael Miller 19:24
It will, it will. So that’s kind of what we’re not like. So what we’re not is we don’t disqualify people. And we’re not here to disable you or keep you needing us. We’re here to what the point is, you don’t need us in two to three years, you’re doing your own thing. And you just keep in touch with us because of relationships there.
Kimberly Miller 19:40
And actually, that’s kind of my motto with like the nonprofit sector. We should all be working ourselves out of a job. A program or an organization is truly successful when it’s no longer needed. And what we do, however, in the nonprofit sector is we want to keep existing so we keep having to get more money and all these things and so yeah, I’m successful, and you don’t need me anymore when you’re just soaring when our communities thriving, and so, yeah, we still want that relationship forever. But yeah, but we shouldn’t need be needed anymore.
Nathan Sack 20:13
Yeah, there’s a there’s a, I think it’s either Alzheimer’s or some part dementia, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or something like that there’s their mission statement, their vision statement should say, vision. Their vision statement is no more Alzheimer’s. I mean, they’re, if Alzheimer’s goes away, they’re no longer needed. You realize that. That business is no longer needed Alzheimer’s, helping people with that no longer needed, you know? So like, you know, the mission vision of Faith Horizons is restoring hope and prosperity to Kansas City. If that’s done I will be very happy. It’s a very big, I think the vision needs to be big enough to sustain it, give it enough life, you know, there’s a lot to do. And so then you pick up different missions that accomplish that larger vision, you know, like what you guys are doing. So like you have different missions, like you’re, you have a business incubator or accelerator, you’re going into the low income housing sector, you’re creating relationships, all of those are different missions per se, to accomplish the vision of Empire Dreams. So yeah, so cool. So, on the low-income housing, so are you just creating relationships in low-income housing? Are you identifying like, issues?
Kimberly Miller 21:36
So both. What I did last summer is I because I know quite a few families who live at a certain housing community. And so there’s many, many issues with the housing, poor management, very unsafe housing, just not taken care of in our community. So the local company is not taking care of the housing, there’s mold, there’s infestations, there’s things breaking, I mean, and so what we did to build relationship as me and one of my mama’s, we went and knocked down 160 doors twice. But um, and we did a housing petition. So we took pictures, we got videos, we got testimony, and we addressed all the housing needs in each unit, and then advocated for the tenants with the property management company. And so from that, when we were went in and started doing weekly activities with the kids, and with the community, it was like, oh, I remember you like you, you stood for us, like you, you advocated for us. And we formed like a little parent leadership team to address like, the needs in the community, related to housing and so, so yeah, so we build relationships, but in doing that, you identify the needs of the community. And then so you call out the strains, but then you see a lot of the issues that you’re able to step in and address and bring, you know, support to advocate with this. We advocated for the housing, so it’s kind of both I mean, and then when I work one on one with a mom, I mean, we work on everything, I mean, whether it’s budgeting, or you need a job, or you need childcare, or there’s domestic violence going on, there’s an addiction, you know, whatever it is, there’s anxiety, like we’re gonna cover whatever is going on and bring forth practical action plan to see linear growth.
Nathan Sack 23:20
So from what I’m hearing, like from what I’m hearing of what you’re saying is with like low-income housing, it seems like this is almost like something that you’re creating, or you’re working through, like that’s how programs are created. Like hey, we’ve got a problem. Let’s see what works kind of what works and so it seems like something that you know, once you get it established, it would be like duplicatable. Oh, we’ve done that before. Let’s go down this road.
Kimberly Miller 23:47
Yes, that’s the whole idea is to create a replicated, replicable, replicable model, especially working with the low-income housing communities, because there’s a lot of social disorganization. Crime and violence is one of the biggest issues at Blue Valley right now. Lots of shootings, just a lot of violence and crime. I mean, and so, one of the reasons the families brought me in was to address some of that. And then when we were doing like, our weekly events, the parents were like, this is amazing. And now, you know, people who are doing things they shouldn’t be know not to do it during this time. Right. And we’re creating, we’re building relationships connecting the community, to people that didn’t know before. And so, yeah, so a lot of the struggles we see in the community can just be addressed, because you got to know your neighbor, and you see them in a different light.
And then we have a model we’re building out for enduring homeownership. Our end all goal is really to be able to provide homeownership for the community, local indigenous residents, and so, so yeah, that’s kind of the end all goal of walking through our life coaching curriculum is to then be able to transition into homeownership. There’s a lot of things we’re kind of touching on and trying to do.
Nathan Sack 24:56
So that would be kind of like some of the results that not results but like the end product of what you guys are doing, like one of the end products would be home ownership or one of the end products can be, you know, a new business started and has a structure, maybe has an has income. So that would be an end product of this organization. And then also, like you said, a stable life. So like, it’s really difficult, like for me to understand, like, I understand poverty, but it gets so complex, because there’s, like, you get into poverty. And then there’s certain lies that you start to believe, which are not true. And then there are certain like, things that inhibit, you know, you from moving forward, which are true, they’re true things that are. So it’s like, getting into the poverty thing is like, it’s so like, it’s such like, it’s like almost like a cancer. You know, you had to like extract certain things and leave other things. Okay, that’s good. That’s not good. Can you just, you know, talk just a little bit about how do you get out of poverty, the poverty mindset, I would say, poverty mindset is probably the first thing you’re probably having.
Michael Miller 26:16
Yeah. The first thing that I’ve seen that is key, again, is relationships, like the Lord has to, you got to find favor, it is the Lord, like you got to pray. And it almost has to be an awakening, the Lord has to be invited into that place that Genesis, that’s the genesis of it all. And then the relationship and somebody actually exposing you to something like this is different. This is the way supposed to be like if you’ve always been in abusive relationships, you start thinking you’re supposed to be talked to that way. You’re supposed to be treated this way. But then you’re like, oh they, open my door. Oh, they pay for dinner, like, and then all of a sudden, light bulbs start going off. And it takes a long time of that. But one of the biggest things for me is exposure. You have to be exposed to different things. But then when you’re just talking about the individual in the poverty of it, you really have to start thinking about, well, what has poverty done to them. Poverty has made every situation harder than it needs to be. Just getting to work. Well, you don’t have a car. So now you got to get up earlier. And you have to tack on two extra hours of time to get to work, and to get home. Well, now, if you add kids to that everything is extremely harder. So it’s not as simple as well, most people just need to get it together. It’s not that simple. We’re talking of like, you can just get in the ring and put your gloves on. Those people have to find a ride to the ring. And then they have to stop while they’re on the bus to go find a boxing gloves to get to the ring. Like that’s kind of what poverty does to you. And after a while just beat you down mentally to where there’s no hope. And so before it’s even before you even get to the age to compete and do things right. Well, poverty’s told you it’s okay to have a baby out of wedlock at a young age, poverty has told you it’s okay to drop out of school, proverty’s told you that the only real family and acceptance you’re going to find is in gangs and drug culture, because that’s what is in your immediate vicinity. And so there’s all these things are just kind of, it’s like this negative feedback loop. You do this one thing bad and you realize you get the slap on the back and you get the money really quick. You do this one thing good and it’s like, man, I gotta get a bus, a bus pass. Now I gotta pass a drug test. You know, these are things that stabilize. And most people have never went through any of that. So that’s kind of like poverty in and of itself. And the mentality of poverty is really comes out of this place of systematic poverty. And I don’t say systematic racism because I don’t believe in it. But I actually do believe in I think there are structural barriers, I believe in redlining. I believe in voter ID laws that are it makes no sense. I do believe that if somebody knows how to braid hair, why do they need to go get a license to do hair? I believe there are structural barriers that make no sense, right, that need to be changed. So I think the mindset of poverty comes out of a place of structural brokenness, or structural barriers.
Nathan Sack 29:11
So you said, you know, funny that you said systemic poverty, which I fully agree with, because it’s been played out Kansas City for so many years systemic poverty, not to mention generational poverty, second, third, fourth, fifth, generational poverty. So that so, you know, I don’t come from poverty. I mean, I understand, you know, not having $1 here, you know, running out of money, so I don’t get to have my coffee or I don’t I understand that, but what we’ve done, what we’ve done, though, is there’s the other side of it is it’s systemic stability, of systemic stability and systemic wealth. You can create systems that create stability, and wealth for yourself. So that’s what you’re trying to say. Let’s reverse the poverty system here and let’s start working on building Empire Dreams is seems like it’s addressing those, hey, let’s create some systemic stability and systemic wealth, generational wealth and structures.
Michael Miller 30:16
Yes, yes. And that’s why again, I don’t believe in systematic racism, because when you really sit around and you think about it, and you don’t really need to even get up and get a bus pass anymore, like you can start earning Bitcoin not buying Bitcoin now, like you can start thinking of that’s a system that you can do at your house. And there’s people literally walking around impoverished neighborhoods, knocking on the door offering free Wi Fi, right, like under the COVID-19. So there’s all kinds of things. But if you don’t think like that, if somebody doesn’t say, think this way. You know what I mean? Like, you won’t think that way. So I know, Kim could attest to that. As far as the mentality of poverty, I’m thinking more large scale, but I know Kim has seen more just day in and day out evidence of the idea and the mentality.
Nathan Sack 31:04
So that was gonna be another question. So like, instead of like, you’re saying, you know, like dealing with it on a large scale, you know, even housing, the housing problem is a large problem. You know, but you can, but from what, you know, Kim, you shared today is you’re saying you’re able Empire Dreams is able to work with a person to deal with that on an individual level.
Kimberly Miller 31:28
Yeah, we focus on the individual, because individuals make up communities, and then communities make up name neighborhoods. And so I think if we’re going to address the systems and the structures that keeps certain communities disqualified from or being able to have an opportunity to start at the same starting line, we have to start with the individual, because we’re addressing there and that in that one individual has a whole family unit. Right? So if we can walk with that one individual address a lot of the mentalities that keep them from being successful, and a lot of them come from endless poverty and the way they grew up, and especially childhood trauma, that’s a big thing that we actually address in our curriculum, because everyone that we work with has extensive childhood trauma that really affects your belief in yourself, your self-worth, your ability to move forward to not be bound by powerlessness. But yeah, you address- you work with that one mom, that changes the whole family unit and the entire, you know, progressive generations from that family unit. And then you, you know, you work with an entire community and entire communities changed. And so yeah, I mean, we’re definitely working with the individual, but we see that that one individual, you know, they make up the community and then suddenly have a transformed and thriving community because we focused on all the individuals in it.
Nathan Sack 32:54
Even if you take, you know, the Jesus, the Jesus model, you know, He worked with twelve people and those 12 people then end up were able to, you know, minus Judas. We are on Holy Week here, He has already been betrayed, it’s, it’s past Friday, but they were able to, you know, He was able to seed and to create in them a kingdom structure, a new thing that was about it. And then He was able to work with them to, you know, they were able to propagate it or duplicate it. Duplicate the process.
Kimberly Miller 33:37
Yeah. And actually, each of our life coaches, once we get that funding piece figured out, we’ll have 12 families each. And so a lot of caseworker case management systems. I mean, they’re gonna have 20,30 50,75 individuals on because it’s all about your numbers. And did you check one this many people? So it’s not about how deep and how long did you work with someone? You know, it’s about how many touch points? And how many documented times did you, you know, attempt to call them and they ignored you because you don’t have a relationship. But so what we do is, it’s 12 families per life coach, and you go really deep with them, and you go really, really far with them. And then at the end of the program, you’ll get 12 more but so yeah, so you’re not racking up all these large scale numbers, but you’re actually transforming long-term the individuals you’re working with rather than just saying, I had all these touch points, and who knows what happened after that.
Nathan Sack 34:31
So I was thinking that everybody knows about multi-level marketing. This is truly the best type of multi-level marketing.
Michael Miller 34:40
Nathan Sack 34:43
Just say where you because your marketing, your marketing prosperity, your marketing, you know, stability and wealth structures, you know, and so then they get their twelve and then their twelve get their twelve and Hallelujah.
Kimberly Miller 34:58
Actually one of my models is. So for individuals that go through the life coach program, I want them to be my next life coaches. So rather than hiring people from outside the community, I’m not saying I never want other people serving the community, but to really raise up indigenous leaders. And they walked through it. And now they can be a life coach, you know, to someone else coming through. And so, so yeah, so one of the individuals I’m training right now she’s one of the moms I work with, and we’ve walked a long journey of homelessness and everything you can think of, and she’s, she’s doing it, she’s amazing. And so it’s like, I believe in you, you’re going to be my first life coach, and the whole world could disqualify you because of all these things. But I see who you are, and I see how far you’ve come. And so yeah, so that’s kind of like really the heart and the model, like, rise out to people from the community who’ve overcome it, even our accelerator, we’re like, okay, our next mentors are going to be exactly individuals who went through the program like they can, they’ll be the next mentors, and we still need other mentors, you know, but like yeah.
Nathan Sack 35:59
So what were some of the fruits that came out of that accelerator? I know, we’re not gonna be able to talk about everything in there. But what were some of the fruits that came out of that? Is there some, like, were you able to discover some of the processes that did work? Some of the processes that didn’t work, maybe? We’re gonna do it this different next time?
Kimberly Miller 36:19
Oh my gosh, yes. I mean, it was. So I’m, I’m a total visionary. And I need people in my life like Mike who can implement that vision and help put structure and order to it. And so um, it was definitely it was a pilot program. The first one, we learned a lot- of we’re going to do this different next time, we need to change this. This is, you know, we learned so much. And we’re definitely I’ll be doing kind of like an exit interview with each participant, but really to hear their heart like, what did you like? What didn’t you like, what was helpful? What wasn’t helpful and be honest with me because I want to know, so we can do it the best that we can next time. And so yeah, it was really great. We had, we had 13 of the entrepreneurs, pitch, like, give their business pitch presentation. The other ones we’re still working with a lot of it was fear of presenting, honestly, amazing like, Kim, I just can’t do it. But thank God, we only had 13 presented because we went two and a half hours over our seven-minute pitches turned into 20 minute pitches. Oh, my goodness. And we didn’t think that would be an issue because everyone was so terrified to talk that we didn’t think they get through to the seven minutes. And so we had no like backup plan for that. And our community judges were amazing. They all stay late. It was a long day.
Nathan Sack 37:40
How long were these days?
Kimberly Miller 37:43
Our accelerator we met every Wednesday. From some time, people would come early at six and then ended about nine because people would stay late six to nine every Wednesday. And then the pitch competition was this last Saturday about 9:30. I think I left like 4:30. But I think it ended at around 2:45.
Michael Miller 38:04
No. Closer to like three.
Kimberly Miller 38:07
Okay, yeah, it was a long day. And it was supposed to be done at one. But it was really awesome. I mean, see, it was only an eight-week process really of build taking an idea and going from just this idea and building out the whole business development process. So your mission, your vision, your value proposition, your market, your competitor analysis, market analysis, strategic plan, you know, financial, so like we went through it all. And so in eight weeks, they actually really put together real tangible businesses a few launched. Most everyone got their business license. And now we’re just kind of, we created action plans. So for what does the next three months look like to get this going? Because there’s like, really, you know, putting together like, we have a marketing plan idea, but now actually implementing that. So we’re really praying what it looks like to follow up with everyone kind of like an implementation, offering, like kind of on the back end of the accelerator, maybe it’s monthly workshops. A lot of the entrepreneurs asked me to be on their advisory board, or to continue coaching. So trying to figure out what that looks like with my capacity. So yeah, so we have like a really nice connected group. And so yeah, so just kind of really praying. Okay, Laura, what’s your heart don’t want to just drop everyone. Right, but also have to realize my own capacity that I can’t business coach everyone, one on one every week, at least without some kind of sustainable income. So yeah, so just praying what that looks like. But it was I mean, it was amazing. It was, especially some of my, the social service term would be like high-risk, high needs mamas. Man, they did it. They created businesses. They showed up every week and it’s just really exciting to see the hope. And I know you can’t like that’s not like a measure of success that I can like, like track and document. But the hope. I think that’s like, for me personally, it’s like, that’s, that’s what I got out of this. That’s like the greatest outcome of it. Yes, we had people go through and they learn business and all these things, but they have hope, like, they have hope that life can look different. They have hope that they can do it. And they’re actually making the steps to do it and make it happen. And yeah, so it was, it was really fun. It was really stressful. as well. Next time, it will be much more smooth. I think, the first time you do anything, you’re like, what the heck are we doing? Oh, boy. Yeah, and I filled out like all the curriculum, we had awesome community partners come in and share as well, each week, we had a lot of mentors.
Nathan Sack 40:52
So is there anything else you’d like to say?
Kimberly Miller 40:55
Yeah, one of my personal missions is to create small pools of economic development on the east side to operate as job skill training centers. And so we had some, some people come back to us when we were talking about what we were doing with the business accelerator. And like, why are you doing that? You know, these aren’t any high growth, super successful businesses. And it’s like, but they’re not meant to be they’re meant to be kind of what you’re saying, like little mom and pop shops, like if they can provide income for their family, jobs for their friends or their family, even just some side income, like a side hustle that helps you pay your bills, right, like, and you’re able to dive into your talents and your strengths and your passions, and you can actually make money from that. Like, that’s amazing. And then we can have the east side be where, you know, if I need something I’m going to someone I know in the community who’s doing it. And I think the last thing I want to say because I want to boast in her as my, our nine-year-old. She loves coffee shops, because she had to, she came to work with me in school with me for years, for years, and so I’d always go to coffee shops and try to get work done. She started getting upset that there’s no coffee shops in our neighborhood. And so-
Nathan Sack 42:07
It is one of the biggest things I look for. I’m like, you know what? A prosperous neighborhood has a coffee shop. And there’s, it’s one of the most like, singled out items I look for.
Kimberly Miller 42:20
There’s not a single coffee shop. There’s no restaurants. I mean, M&M Bakery is great. But it’s not like you go and sit down there and it’s east of, or it’s west of 71. Yeah M&M Bakery is amazing. But yeah, it’s like, we can’t like go sit there. Because it’s you take it to go.
Nathan Sack 42:37
That’s what matters, the Wi-Fi, the coffee that just a place to be out.
Kimberly Miller 42:43
And just being able to hang out and have a date because we like to go on dates. Yeah and she was really upset about it. And so we were on a walk one day, because we walk all over the neighborhood, I don’t- no one bothers us. And we were on a walk one day she and we pass this building off 31st and Benton and she’s like, Mom, I want to buy that. And that’s going to be my cafe. And she’d been talking for probably a year or so now about I’m going to start a cafe in the inner city. It’s called Nyah’s Delights. And she started like cooking for us at the house. And like just on this whole kick of I’m starting a cafe and I was like, okay, so when we started the accelerator, Nyah was like, Mom, I’m coming, right? Because I’m starting a business like I’m a real business woman and me and Mike, like we kind of weren’t taking it as a real thing. And then she just wouldn’t give it up. So she went through the business accelerator. She pitched she won fourth place. She had won the best presentations. And she was going to start a cafe in the inner city. And so now I’m like, oh, I gotta help her do this. But she has a whole vision whole plan. She tells everyone she has an investor to buy her building if she can make the numbers work. So yeah, so But that’s I think that’s yeah, just talking and just want to boast about that.
Michael Miller 43:56
Yeah I think my closing remark would be there’s so much beauty here. And I think the urban core goes back to the biblical cry of nature waiting for sons and daughters to be revealed. Because this is basically what it is. We can get lost all day in economics and structural this unsystematic this and all that other stuff. But when sons and daughters just start saying yes, and bringing the resources to the table, the Lord will qualify those people. So it’s no boogeyman behind the door. What it is, is a bunch of us who all think we’re good loving people, you know, whatever that means. But how is that manifesting in the earth? And it might be Kim and I doing a little bit of this, but there’s like 90 other people who need to be doing a little bit of this because this didn’t happen overnight. It’s not going to get fixed overnight. I don’t know if Kim and I will be really satisfied and could transition into the next stage of walking with Christ happy if we saw two or three really successful business and families that are healthy and thriving, and loving the urban core. Because if you think about it, for every congregation, in the city, only one of them can really probably take on a real family that needs it that’s in trouble. That’s because for every one family that Kim works with probably 12 or 13, congregations that need to get around each individual, because the need is going to be that great. And that can be overwhelming for one congregation to take on 12 or 13, high risk families. But for one congregation to take on one family, there could be somebody in there who’s like a Bob or Lauren Fraser has been to us like they expose us to high level things. And they have grace that’s involved with it. So there’s one guy that’s really good with numbers and another mom housewife that has time to come and meet and have coffee with you and tell you, hey, you’re worth more than, you know, this, the man has to treat you better. Like there’s so many different dynamics that work in every congregation, that it wouldn’t be so debilitating or overwhelming for one congregation per family. So if that any of that makes sense it’s just say yes to Jesus and see where it goes.
Nathan Sack 46:09
So what is the website for Empire Dreams?
Kimberly Miller 46:12
It’s www dot empire dreams.org.
Nathan Sack 46:16
It’s too easy. It’s too easy people. So is there anything that Empire Dreams needs right now that you guys would like to ask for?
Kimberly Miller 46:25
Mike’s going like, they can’t see- we need money. You know, yes. I mean, every nonprofit is always going to need funding and financing. But I think what we really need is people who are willing to see our community through the eyes of heaven, willing to see our community the way we see it. And they want to invest in people, they want to invest in relationships. Like I think that’s really like we’ve done a lot of what we’ve been doing alone, for a lot of years, just kind of in living in the community, by ourselves taking care of all these families or loving on all these families, I should say. And just really isolated kind of doing it and so to have other people who you know, champion on want to come and build relationships with our community, don’t just say, oh, that’s amazing what you’re doing well, no, meet my people. Hear their stories, fall in love with them the way I’ve fallen in love with them. And maybe that’s me asking too much, but I want people to love the beauty of our community, the way that we love it and, and then partner in any way that they feel led or call to you know, even if it’s just, you know, whether it’s maybe they want to be a mentor, or maybe they just want to, you know, they’ll have coffee with one of my mom’s and expose her to something different or who knows. But yeah, that’s kind of what we could use going forward and a lot of prayer, we need prayer covering. I mean, it’s definitely you drive into the inner city and I mean, it’s just a different oppression. And we feel that oppression every day and it’s just a different we definitely do need a prayer covering and are working on putting together kind of a team for that so.
Nathan Sack 48:02
So if they did want to give financially, is there a donate button on Empire Dreams. There is a donate button on Empire Dreams people.
Kimberly Miller 48:13
It’s not utilized a lot, so feel free. Free to utilize it.
Nathan Sack 48:18
Somebody needs to go pioneer that domain button. If people wanted to contact you, the best way to contact you is through Empire Dreams right now. Okay. Well, thank you so much, both of you for being on the Faith Horizons podcast. It was really good to get to know both of you more I really am excited about the future of this Empire Dreams and I believe God is behind it. I feel like it has a lot of the equipping that God wants to do for His people right now. There’s the body of Christ. He wants to equip the body of Christ to be empowered to influence their communities, the marketplace, their churches. So, anyway, so thank you guys so much. Thank you. It’s such an honor to get to interview people of such great caliber. To learn more about what Empire Dreams is doing and partner with the mission go to Empire Dreams.org Thank you for listening to the Faith horizons podcast, please subscribe and like the podcast wherever you listen, there is a subscription smart link in the show notes. You can also follow the Faith Horizons podcast on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Thanks and God bless.