LISC National
About Us

History of LISC Western New York

1998-2018: The First Twenty Years

Over 20 years ago, leaders from the civic community of Buffalo called into the National office of LISC, asking for a presence here in the city. After a variety of conversations and a good exchange of ideas, LISC Buffalo was created. The organization was run by Executive Director Mike Clarke, between 1998 and 2018. Under Clarke's direction, LISC provided funding to a variety of projects.

Some of the main projects to receive funding include:

  • Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP)
  • PUSH Buffalo
  • Elmwood Village Association
  • University District Community Development Association
  • Old First Ward Community Association
  • Belmont Housing Services
  • Asbury Church restoration
  • Larkin U Building
  • 10 NFL Partnership playing fields

The team brought together partners to access new national tax incentives, such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), HUD Section 4 funds, designated for organizational capacity building, and New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC). They provided support by securing grants, such as a $500,000 Main Street grant, which immensely added vitality to the Larkin District. They built partnerships and acted as a convener in the Buffalo community. 


Following Mike Clarke's retirement in 2018, LISC brought on Julie Barrett O'Neill, as Clarke's successor. One of O'Neill's first projects was spearheading a 5 year strategic plan for the organization. Through deep and extensive listening sessions, it was brought to the attention of LISC's leadership, that the community wanted a broader reach of LISC services, while maintaining a deep reach in the more disinvested neighborhoods of Western New York: Buffalo's east side, Seneca Street, Niagara Street, Black Rock and Riverside Districts, portions of Main Street, Lackawanna, and areas within the City of Niagara Falls. Through these extensive listening sessions, O'Neill and LISC leadership identified four main program areas to focus on moving forward: Livability, Housing, Income & Wealth Building, and Neighborhood Business Support. To see an in-depth view of these program areas, please visit our Strategy page.​ 

We are excited to create new history as we move our five year plan forward, while building new programming and resources in support of the work of our partners in the Western New York community.

Click here for a brief history of LISC National.