Archived Featured Donors

McKnight Foundation

LISC would like to thank the McKnight Foundation for the tremendous impact it’s had on our community revitalization efforts in Duluth and the Twin Cities.

The McKnight Foundation has provided over $29 million in grants since 1991 to help improve the quality of life in our shared markets. We’ve used this funding to advance affordable housing, financial stability and economic development leading to measurable results. Leveraging the Foundation’s resources, LISC has invested over $700 million in both cities to develop or preserve 17,600 affordable housing units and 2.1 million square feet of commercial and community space. We’ve also served over 7,000 people through LISC’s Financial Opportunity Centers, our primary program for increasing financial capability.

The Foundation’s resources support a breadth of projects. In the Twin Cities, for example, LISC invested over $10 million into the new headquarters of Minnesota’s largest minority-owned business, THOR Companies. The company constructed its headquarters on a half-vacant intersection in the near north side of Minneapolis to spark economic and social activity in a historically high-poverty area. The $36 million Regional Acceleration Center is creating more than 76,000 square feet of office space and 16,000 square feet of retail, and also helping accelerate the first phase of the expansion of NorthPoint Health and Wellness Clinic.

Among LISC’s investments is a thoughtful and strategic model supporting quality of life neighborhoods in Duluth. The Lincoln Park Craft Business District is booming with revitalization having 30 new businesses and over 200 jobs created or expanded in companies employing creative placemaking techniques. Entrepreneurs are “crafting” desirable items, selling them locally, and exporting them across the country. LISC’s work through Foundation resources also includes operating support and capacity building to help organizations address critical housing needs. Gateway Towers preserved 150 units for a mix of seniors, adults with disabilities, and supportive housing for teens experiencing homelessness. This $18.5 million project was at risk due to the size and complexity; however, two local housing organizations that receive LISC support partnered together to find a long-term solution for its operation and renovation.

“The McKnight Foundation establishes strong partnerships to support initiatives that empower people across Minnesota,” said Kate Wolford, President of the McKnight Foundation. “Our collaboration with LISC is an important example of how place-based approaches improve quality of life.”

McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. The Foundation uses all its resources to attend, unite, and empower those it serves.

Learn More

City of Kalamazoo – Foundation for Excellence

LISC and the City of Kalamazoo entered into a historic partnership to grow economic opportunity and increase access to affordable housing. By 2022, the partnership will provide a total of $43.5 million to fuel these efforts across the city. The city will carry out its commitment through the Foundation for Excellence (FFE), an innovative collaboration by the city and private donors to support community revitalization.

LISC is elevating our role in economic development, particularly as it relates to job creation and job placement. We are piloting a robust economic development agenda in a handful of sites across the nation, one of which is the City of Kalamazoo. With the support of the city, we will put hundreds of individuals on a path toward living-wage jobs and improved economic futures. Our activities will include establishing a Financial Opportunity Center in the Northside neighborhood to help residents build credit, savings and assets; increasing small business lending; and funding façade improvements along commercial corridors.

The second pillar of this joint partnership is affordable housing. Our goals are to prevent tax foreclosures; facilitate the development of new and rehabilitated housing units; and provide resident homeowner education. Throughout the duration of this three-year partnership, we will impact over 500 affordable housing units and 750 Kalamazoo residents through financial and homeownership education programming.

“The City of Kalamazoo continues to improve life for our residents, and our partnership with LISC will allow us to leverage resources and expertise to build a more vibrant, prosperous, and equitable city,” said Jim Ritsema, City Manager.

“In the short time since its creation, the Foundation for Excellence has already had a profound effect in many of our focus areas,” said Laura Lam, an Assistant City Manager for the City of Kalamazoo. “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with partners like LISC, whose mission aligns closely with that of the FFE, to magnify the impact that these types of investments will have for Kalamazoo residents.”

This joint initiative also aligns with the goals of the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Strategic Vision and Master Plan, further encouraging the coordination of citywide resources to increase impact.

The Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence addresses challenges to the prosperity of the city to help make Kalamazoo the most dynamic, fulfilling and equitable place that it can be for all neighbors to live, work and enjoy life.

Learn More

State Farm

State Farm has been an important LISC supporter for nearly two decades, providing us with more than $132 million in flexible resources to advance our comprehensive community development efforts, including economic development, workforce development, health, and affordable housing programs.

State Farm's current $4 million grant impacts 11 cities, with a focus on economic opportunity and financial stability. In each city, State Farm's funding enables LISC to implement community development efforts that leverage local opportunities. For this reason, State Farm's grant touches nearly all of LISC's programs. In the Twin Cities, for instance, LISC provides technical and financial assistance to Juxtaposition Arts, a North Minneapolis youth art program with a strong apprenticeship program that currently has around 75 paid youth apprentices in graphic design, textiles, environmental design, and public arts. These students are not only learning important job skills, but they are also earning an income from their art and revitalizing the area with a gallery and a retail store that sells designs by the apprentices.

Or take LISC's work in New York City around green, healthy housing. State Farm's grant supports Two Shades of Green (TSG), which helps affordable housing owners implement green, healthy and cost-effective measures to both improve the environment and preserve the affordability of their buildings through energy cost-savings. TSG has integrated such measures into 1,100 affordable housing units.

In select LISC markets, State Farm resources help seed business growth and improve safety—both vital for attracting economic activity. Further, State Farm is also a champion of LISC's Financial Opportunity Center model, and its grant impacts 48 FOCs nationwide. In 2018, State Farm broadened that reach and provided the first commitment in support of LISC’s expansion to Atlanta, which will start with the establishment of the first LISC-supported Financial Opportunity Center in the city.

State Farm's grant strengthens multiple LISC programs and so do its employees. State Farm employees provide essential human capital that further advances LISC's work. For example, in Houston, State Farm agents participate in "National Night Out" events, which promote community safety and cohesion. Five State Farm representatives also serve on our local office advisory committees to offer programmatic and strategic guidance.

"Our multifaceted relationship with LISC helps us give back to the communities where we live and work," said Ed Woods, Director – Human Resources, State Farm. "Aligning with our Neighborhood of Good® platform, State Farm employees and agents are turning caring into doing as they work side-by-side with LISC to build safer and stronger neighborhoods."

Please see this press release about our partnership and State Farm's most recent grant.

State Farm supports auto and home safety programs; disaster preparedness and recovery programs; and education, economic empowerment and community development projects, programs and services that help people realize their dreams.

Learn More

San Antonio Area Foundation

LISC is truly grateful to the San Antonio Area Foundation for embarking on a new partnership with us to launch our comprehensive community development approach in San Antonio. The foundation’s support of $500,000 helped LISC establish an office in the area and develop a strategy rooted in local needs.

The office formally opened in 2016, and we have hit the ground running, focusing on three priorities:

  • Increasing the construction and preservation of workforce, permanent supportive and affordable housing by investing LISC resources and building the capacity of local government and nonprofits;
  • Supporting the growth of a grassroots community development sector by creating and managing a pipeline of innovative projects that improve quality of life for neighborhoods and the people that live there; and
  • Contributing to the public policy arena as a thought leader especially as it relates to creating an environment where the production of affordable housing is a priority.

LISC has already had an impact on San Antonio. In 2017, we invested more than $9.4 million, leveraging over $52.9 million to help develop or preserve 370 units of affordable housing and 22,900 square feet of commercial and community space. For example, LISC and our New Markets Support Company provided $2.5 million in tax credit equity to support the Mays Family Boys & Girls Club, a facility that delivers tutoring, sports and recreation, computer access and healthy foods options to neighborhood children and their families.

We look forward to building on these outcomes and continuing our work with the San Antonio Area Foundation in the years to come.

Designated as a Top 20 community foundation in the nation based on asset size, the San Antonio Area Foundation has provided over $400 million in scholarships and grants to enhance the quality of life in the region.

Learn More

Union Pacific

LISC is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Union Pacific to expand workforce development beginning with efforts in Chicago, Houston, and Kansas City. With a $3 million grant, LISC and Union Pacific will work together to help people build the skills they need to compete for good jobs and raise their standards of living through LISC’s Financial Opportunity Center model and its Bridges to Career Opportunities (Bridges) component.

LISC’s Financial Opportunity Centers connect low- to moderate-income families with the financial and labor market mainstream through employment and career services, financial coaching, and education to build credit, savings and assets. Building on this platform of services, Bridges creates an on ramp for these same individuals to achieve family-supporting careers, such as those offered by Union Pacific and other high-demand industries through up-skilling and workforce readiness training.

This is truly a collaborative effort. LISC will create new bridge curriculums called Building Tomorrow’s Workforce that will align Union Pacific job opportunities. Through this initiative, the company hopes to hire FOC graduates for trade positions, such as diesel electricians and mechanics, as well as train crew—all jobs paying family-sustaining wages. Over three years, the Union Pacific-LISC partnership is expected to impact 20,000 people.

The LISC grant is one pillar of the company’s $20 million philanthropic commitment to its communities, which includes initiatives focused on helping communities prevent and prepare for accidents and emergencies, and build vibrant community spaces, in addition to job skills development.

For more information, please see our joint press release.

Union Pacific serves roughly 7,000 communities where its employees and customers live and work, and their children grow up. From rural town to large metropolis, Union Pacific is honored to have unique, long-standing community relationships.

Learn More

Citi Community Development

Citi Community Development is one of the founding corporate partners of our Bring Them HOMES initiative, a program launched by LISC and our affiliate the National Equity Fund (NEF) to provide strategic financial and technical assistance to help create permanent supportive housing for homeless and at-risk veterans.

Thanks to Citi Community Development’s ongoing collaboration and investments, LISC and NEF are advancing Bring Them HOMES through predevelopment grants, technical assistance, and efforts to increase visibility of veterans’ issues. LISC and NEF fund permanent supportive housing projects at critical junctures, expediting the predevelopment phase of the development process. We couple this financial assistance with technical expertise to guide our partners through the intricate predevelopment phase to bring these veterans housing projects to fruition.

“Access to affordable, permanent, and supportive housing is essential to reducing veteran homelessness. Together with LISC and NEF, we strive to help increase this critical housing supply, which gives veterans the counseling, job training, and health services they need.” said Ruth Christopherson, Senior Vice President of Citi Community Development and Program Director of Citi Salutes. LISC is grateful for Citi Community Development’s dedicated commitment to Bring Them HOMES, contributing $2.7 million since 2012 to support the development of nearly 2,000 units for veterans experiencing homelessness and those at-risk of homelessness.

Citi Community Development’s investment in Bring Them HOMES complements the work of Citi Salutes, a company-wide initiative that supports service members and their families with career development opportunities, employee engagement efforts, banking services, and collaborations with leading veterans' organizations.

Citi Community Development works to expand access to financial products and services, build sustainable business solutions and forge innovative partnerships to help individuals, families and communities achieve economic empowerment.

Learn More