Our History


The Ford Foundation produces a discussion paper — Communities and Neighborhoods: A Possible Private Sector Initiative for the 1980s — that calls for creation of a new organization to support the revitalization activities of 50–100 capable community groups. LISC is founded in December 1979.


LISC is formally announced on May 23, with a $10 million capital pool from the Ford Foundation, Aetna Life & Casualty, Atlantic Richfield, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Continental Illinois Bank, International Harvester, Levi Strauss & Co., and Prudential Insurance Co. Mike Sviridoff becomes LISC's first president and Robert D. Lilley, retired president of AT&T, becomes Chairman.


In collaboration with local organizations, LISC far exceeds its initial goals, assisting 133 community development groups in 59 localities in 28 states and committing in excess of $10 million in loans, guarantees and grants. LISC establishes its first "areas of concentration" in the South Bronx, Boston, and Chicago bringing an on-the-ground presence to LISC's work.


With 19 local programs arrayed from coast-to-coast, LISC achieves a truly nationwide reach and its capitalization exceeds $70 million. Today, LISC has local offices in 30 cities across the United States and works in 469 rural counties in 31 states.


Paul S. Grogan succeeds Mike Sviridoff as LISC's President. Norborne "Bunny" Berkeley, Jr., Retired President of Chemical Bank, becomes Chairman. LISC's capitalization reaches $100 million with the support of more than 350 businesses and foundations.


LISC organizes a Neighborhood Development Support Collaborative in Boston to provide community groups with multi-year performance-based funding aimed at strengthening core operations and boosting development activity. This unique approach has been replicated in 22 cities across the country.


John P. "Jake" Mascotte, CEO of The Continental Corporation, becomes LISC's Chairman. LISC creates the National Equity Fund (NEF) to raise capital through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program from corporations for investment in affordable housing. In its first year, NEF raises $15 million. Today NEF is among the nation's largest syndicators, with investments exceeding $8.8 billion in 120,000 affordable rental apartments. The Local Initiatives Managed Assets Corporation is also created, which attracts $25 million in capitalization to provide a secondary market for community development loans.


LISC and 10 community development corporations begin a massive citywide housing renovation program in partnership with the City of New York with the goal of creating 1,000 affordable apartments. This "Demonstration Program" has endured with more than 32,000 affordable apartments produced.


LISC expands to 26 geographic program areas, supporting close to 800 CDCs.


Fifteen foundations and corporations, convened by Rockefeller Foundation president Peter Goldmark, form the National Community Development Initiative (NCDI), now called Living Cities. It is the largest philanthropic collaborative investing in community development in history, providing LISC with $325 million over the last 15 years.


LISC launches The Retail Initiative to provide equity capital to meet the financing needs of supermarket-anchored retail centers in inner-city locations, ultimately financing eight such projects and building LISC's capacity to finance many more. Today, LISC has invested over $100 million in 59 supermarkets and food markets across the country.


LISC's strategic plan calls for the "build-out" of the community development industry focusing resources to support new work in childcare, community safety, organizational development, and commercial revitalization. The U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development joins NCDI and, over the next 15 years, provides LISC with more than $191 million to support community groups.


Rural LISC starts, aiming to demonstrate the value of investing in and through rural CDCs. In 15 years, it has provided $544 million to rural groups, producing more than 14,000 affordable homes and 2.1 million square feet of commercial and retail space.


The National Football League and LISC join forces to create and improve safe and accessible playing fields in urban neighborhoods. To date, the NFL has provided nearly $30 million to LISC, which has resulted in 241 fields in 32 cities, providing 450,000 youth with opportunities for healthy play. LISC/Chicago establishes the New Communities Initiative, a pilot program to support comprehensive redevelopment in targeted Chicago neighborhoods. It becomes the model for LISC's Building Sustainable Communities program nationwide.


Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin becomes Chairman of LISC and Michael Rubinger becomes President of LISC. LISC provides start-up capital for The Community Development Trust (CDT), a real estate investment trust, to continue its secondary market functions. CDT now holds $745 million in debt and equity investments today.


State Farm provides LISC with $25 million in grants and loans, the largest single corporate commitment in LISC's history, sparking a groundswell of commercial revitalization and development in neighborhood commercial areas across the country.


Supported by the Walton Family Foundation, LISC launches the Educational Facilities Financing Center to finance charter school development in low-income communities opening a new area of community renewal for LISC. Overall, LISC has financed 139 schools serving more than 50,000 students.


LISC starts the New Markets Support Company (NMSC) to raise capital incentivized with New Markets Tax Credits for commercial and community facilities projects such as retail stores, industrial and manufacturing facilities, schools, artist space and museums. To date, LISC has been allocated $693 million in credit authority, the largest allocation to any organization nationwide. To date, NMSC has invested in 50 projects and helped create more than 18,000 jobs.


LISC/Chicago opens the first Centers for Working Families to assist lower income families achieve greater financial stability through the bundling of neighborhood-based employment services, financial counseling and public benefits assistance. This network of programs is growing rapidly and today there are 59 Financial Opportunity Centers in 15 cities.


LISC's investments in broad neighborhood revitalization reaches a milestone: $1 billion in a single year.


LISC begins implementation of its new Strategic Plan — Building Sustainable Communities — to create neighborhoods that are good places to live, do business, work and raise families. Eleven local programs pilot the comprehensive approach in communities across the nation.


As the economy experiences a downturn, LISC still invests $826 million in grants, loans and equity in communities across the country. Green development and family asset building programs expand. Seventeen local LISC programs are fully implementing the Building Sustainable Communities approach.


Even with continuing economic challenges, LISC reaches $1.1 billion in grants, loans and equity investments to implement our Building Sustainable Communities strategy. The strategy has proven to be a promising vehicle of change, one that is flexible, innovative, and responsive to local conditions.