From tapping the capital markets to creating a housing fund with Silicon Valley giant Facebook, LISC is out front in path-breaking ways to fund community development, with CEO Maurice Jones leading the charge. The Chronicle of Philanthropy highlights LISC’s track record and new strategies that keep our mission and our work flourishing.
The excerpt below is from:
Social-Service Groups Fight to Reverse a Slide in Donations
by Debra E. Blum, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
...Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a nonprofit that invests in struggling neighborhoods nationwide, will turn 40 in a couple years, but it aims to change and grow like an enthusiastic start-up. That mixture of eagerness and maturity, says senior vice president Beth Marcus, appeals to supporters.
Just this year, LISC became the first community-development financial institution to issue bonds, a $100 million offering to help accelerate revitalization work in distressed areas. And the group received money from a tech-industry giant for the first time, $18.5 million from Facebook to manage an affordable-housing development fund. The group has traditionally received much of its support from businesses in the financial-services fields. Maurice Jones, CEO of LISC, suggested tapping Silicon Valley not long after he joined the organization in 2016.
Bringing its longtime donors along for the new ride is critical to LISC, too. The MetLife Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the international insurance company, had been giving LISC about $100,000 a year for decades for its programs in affordable housing and homes for military veterans. When the foundation changed its strategy four years ago to focus on providing financial products and savings to those in need, it found that LISC had a program that fit. A few years earlier, LISC had created and started opening Financial Opportunity Centers that offer job and personal-finance services to low-income people.
Now MetLife gives about $1 million a year to LISC to support programs old and new. "As MetLife has evolved, LISC has evolved," says Dennis White, the foundation’s president. "LISC has acknowledged they need to be more than housing, and we see the same need for a more comprehensive set of services and tools to build the health of a community."
MetLife was especially impressed, he says, that LISC had the know-how and resources to expand the financial-services program.
"We still have a focus on bricks and mortar," Ms. Marcus says. "But we also have the relationships, the credibility, the experience to bring new and different products, ideas, and tools to address the issues we care about."