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Celebrating the Man Who Launched LISC Jacksonville

Twenty years ago, J.F. Bryan IV, a Florida insurance executive with a deep-rooted commitment to his city’s communities, spearheaded a fundraising campaign that got LISC Jacksonville off the ground. The story of Bryan’s tenure as head of LISC Jax’s local advisory board shows what it takes to drive a successful LISC program—boundless dedication to creating opportunity, and an intimate knowledge of local places and the people who make them hum. Says Bryan, “Every neighborhood, regardless of how challenged, has human resources.”

Above: J.F. Bryan IV (left) stands with a Jacksonville family in front of their new home, built by Northwest Jacksonville CDC with LISC Jacksonville support.

The excerpt below was originally published:
LISC Jacksonville celebrates 20 years, man behind the funds
By Beth Reese Cravey, The Florida Times-Union

LISC partners with residents and other nonprofits to revitalize neighborhoods through lending, grant making and its EPIC Communities comprehensive approach, which focuses on housing, education, health, physical environment, economic activity and family income. J.F. Bryan IV has been key to its inception and success,

J.F. Bryan IV wasn’t even his own first choice.

In 1999 The Community Foundation of Northeast Florida, Jessie Ball duPont Fund and Jaguars Foundation asked the Local Initiatives Support Corp, or LISC, a national community development organization, to form a Jacksonville chapter.

Bryan, then board chairman of The Community Foundation, was part of the leadership team hunting for a prominent person to ask other prominent people to donate $100,000 toward a $1.25 million local funding match.

“J.F’s passion for helping neighborhoods cultivate opportunity and growth will continue to be our model and drive LISC’s success.”
— Janet Owens, LISC Jacksonville Executive Director

Some people turned down the plea to lead the fundraising effort, others wouldn’t even listen to it.

So Mayor John Delaney, also part of the team, asked Bryan, former president of Independent Insurance Group and a civic leader in his own right.

Bryan, a Jacksonville native who turns 77 Thursday, understood the stakes.

“We had been trying to get LISC to come to Jacksonville for years. They chose you, you didn’t choose them,” he said. “They determined that we had mature enough development organizations in town.”

He accepted Delaney’s challenge and at LISC Jacksonville’s 20th-anniversary Community Development Awards celebration on Feb. 20 will be honored for that early success and what became two decades of service. Other neighborhood revitalization heroes will also be recognized.

Bryan collected the initial $1.25 million from 22 donors in about four months, with help from a national LISC representative. Since then, as chairman of the local advisory board he has helped raise about $100 million to invest in Jacksonville’s urban neighborhoods. That money leveraged an additional $365 million in investments from outside sources through the national office’s funding pools.

“The primary reason we succeeded, the main reason we are still in Jacksonville, is J.F. Bryan,” said fellow advisory board member Sherry Magill, former president of the duPont Fund. “LISC needed a community leader of J.F.’s stature. His commitment to those less fortunate, his willingness to accept a difficult challenge, his tenacity and love of Jacksonville and quite frankly his warm and inspiring sense of humor have sustained LISC and all of those involved for two decades.

“We would not have succeeded without him,” she said.

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