Bay Area LISC celebrated two milestones in 2017: the arrival of new executive director Cynthia Wong, formerly VP in Global Sustainable Finance at Morgan Stanley, and a historic new partnership with Facebook, key community organizations and the City of East Palo Alto.
LISC was tapped to manage the Catalyst Housing Fund, together with the other partners, the City of Menlo Park and the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley. The fund, announced in August and seeded with $18.5 million from Facebook, will create affordable housing and economic opportunity near the social media giant's headquarters. It aims to increase options for existing residents in Silicon Valley to take part in the tremendous prosperity generated by the tech and other industries there.
LISC plans to quadruple the size of the Catalyst Fund over five years, working with its national network of corporate and philanthropic partners. Earlier this year, The San Francisco Foundation joined the Catalyst Fund with a $1 million investment: more evidence of the value of the fund’s mission.
LISC was invited to manage the fund because of its long track record of leveraging investment and supporting affordable housing development. LISC already manages 20 funds across the country totaling more than half a billion dollars and reflecting the organization’s comprehensive approach and mission to transform communities.
But what really set LISC apart in the Bay Area, according to the community partners, known collectively as Envision Transform Build-East Palo Alto (ETB), was our dedication to community-led development and LISC’s track record of bringing economic growth, jobs and services for residents into the mix with affordable housing creation.
“For us as community groups in East Palo Alto, it was important to choose a fund manager that can not only scale the fund up for maximum impact, but one that is invested in providing local programs for non-profit organizations to increase capacity and shore-up infrastructure on the ground," said ETB's Tameeka Bennett told the Mercury News. "It was also important for us to find an organization that was willing to come in and partner with our community."
As for Cynthia Wong, a respected former banker with ties across the Bay Area, the opportunity to join in this venture and lead new partnerships is part of what brought her to LISC: “This is an ideal partnership for carrying out LISC’s commitment to a more broadly shared prosperity in the Bay Area,” she said of the fund.
Photo credit: LISC Archives
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Executive Director: Cynthia Wong
1970 Broadway, Suite 1100
Oakland, CA 94612