In response to President Bush's call to address the homeownership crisis in America, Sears, Roebuck and Co. has created the Sears American Dream Campaign. The five-year, $100 million commitment will make home ownership and continued home maintenance possible for millions of Americans who might otherwise not be able to share in that dream.
A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) study released on June 17 uncovered a growing homeownership gap - the minority homeownership rate is 18 percent lower than the national average, with less than 50 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics owning homes.
"We created the Sears American Dream Campaign because we believe that everyone has a right to share in the American dream of homeownership and be able to preserve what they own," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan J. Lacy. "Our Campaign will help people purchase a house and remain homeowners by providing support for their homes and families."
In its first year, the Sears American Dream Campaign will donate more than $2 million to NeighborWorks, a network of local non-profit organizations dedicated to assisting families purchase, improve and maintain their homes.
A key program feature is the $1 million Sears American Dream Campaign Fund that will provide financial assistance to help families afford new homes.
Additionally, in 10 major markets across the country, Sears will revitalize neighborhoods through an assortment of services. Using donations of merchandise and product services, along with the expertise of the Sears American Dream Team, made up of the company's employee and retiree volunteers, Sears will help sustain and outfit hundreds of homes and families. In the campaign's first year, Sears expects to impact neighborhoods in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Oakland, Calif., Phoenix and Philadelphia.
Also during its first year, the Sears American Dream Campaign will become a national sponsor of the 65 existing and 10 new NeighborWorks Homeownership Centers across the country. Sears' support will help these centers offer a wide range of educational services, products and training necessary to purchase, renovate, maintain and manage a home. "Research shows lack of information and access to resources are the greatest barriers to homeownership and maintenance," said Lacy. "Through sponsorship of these homeownership centers, we are taking immediate steps toward breaking down those barriers," he said.
The Sears American Dream Team will also be mobilized to support the campaign's efforts. "Sears employees and retirees have always embraced the company's strong tradition of volunteerism," said Lacy. "Since January 2000, Sears volunteers have donated more than 1.3 million hours to local community service projects."
Beyond 2002, the Sears American Dream Campaign will sponsor grassroots education campaigns and local and national advocacy efforts.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. is a broadline retailer with significant service and credit businesses. In 2001, the company's annual revenue was more than $41 billion. The company offers its wide range of apparel, home and automotive products and services to families in the U.S. through Sears stores nationwide, including approximately 870 full-line stores. Sears also offers a variety of merchandise and services through its Web site, sears.com. In June 2002, Sears acquired Lands' End, a direct merchant of traditionally styled, classic Lands' End clothing offered to customers around the world through regular mailings of its specialty catalogs and online at http://www.landsend.com/ .
The NeighborWorks® network, founded and supported by the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, is comprised of more than 230 locally based nonprofit affordable housing and community development organizations serving more than 2,100 urban, suburban and rural communities nationwide. The organization's NeighborWorks Campaign for Home Ownership is the nation's most successful community-based homeownership and maintenance initiative, and has helped more than 60,000 lower-income families -- of which more than 52 percent are ethnic or racial minorities -- achieve homeownership in recent years.
SOURCE: Sears, Roebuck and Co.
CONTACT: Peggy A. Palter of Sears, +1-847-286-8361
Web site: http://www.sears.com/