LISC CEO Maurice Jones lays out last year’s record investments and impact in the hundreds of neighborhoods where we work. And in this season of football playoffs and New Year’s resolutions, he reaffirms LISC’s ongoing commitment to bringing its A-game to revitalizing communities.
If you’re a football fan like I am then this is the best time of year. The playoffs! As I watched Green Bay edge out Dallas last weekend I recalled one of my most cherished experiences growing up in rural Virginia.
It was my junior year of high school. We had a football team like none other, and I was lucky enough to play quarterback. With a record 14 wins and no losses, we were the best in the state—a first for my county high school in any sport.
After winning the championship game, we returned in the wee hours of the morning to school and our bus was met by what seemed like every resident of my hometown, including, to my surprise, my grandparents who raised me.
I ran over and hugged them, happily asking, “What are y’all doing here? It’s way past your bedtime!” My grandmother, who with prayer allowed me to play this sport I loved, replied with laughter in her voice, “Now, you knew we would show up.”
The truth is, I did know. Because that’s what they did for me, all of their lives. They showed up. Even now, their story and their spirit inspire me every day.
Since September of last year, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the country visiting LISC offices, seeing our work, conversing with our partners and listening to community residents. Over and over again, I’m reminded of the lesson from my grandparents: it’s important to show up. In places like Boston, Jacksonville, Chicago, Houston, Detroit and Phoenix, in rural towns across Pennsylvania and California, I consistently heard the same message: Thanks for all LISC does. We have more work to do. Stay with us. Keep showing up.
In fact, in 2016, we showed up in a big way. Last year, LISC invested a record $1.4 billion in people, partners, projects and places across urban and rural America. That includes a best-ever $239 million in lending for such things as better jobs, businesses, schools and health. And it marks a milestone in our mission to create safe, affordable homes as we helped build and preserve more than 20,000 units nationwide.
We are as committed to rural growth as we are urban opportunities. In 2016, we collaborated and invested in 76 rural partners serving 2,000 counties in 44 states, adding rural Oklahoma and Texas to our footprint.
Nationally, we also beefed up our work around crime, expanding into 66 cities and five rural communities to help make our streets safer and to build often-fragile partnerships between community organizations and law enforcement, which share many of the same goals.
Our Financial Opportunity Centers helped more than 4,800 people find employment in 2016, and nearly as many improved their net incomes, while thousands more improved their credit scores and net worth.
That is what I mean by showing up. And we are committed to doing even more in 2017. In addition to our ongoing focus on community infrastructure, capacity-building and placemaking, we are working to aggregate significant resources that will catalyze a new generation of living wage jobs across the country. We will invest in projects that hold this promise. We will partner with enterprises that share this goal. And we will help prepare residents for quality jobs while they also build skills for sectors that show growth for the future. This work is a priority for us.
We are so grateful to our funders, community partners and residents, who come together to drive lasting impact. Day in and day out, we will continue to show up!
Thank you for all you do and here’s to a great 2017!