The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is a community development organization that has been helping create a better future for over 7 million Americans for the past 35 years. Established in 1979 by executives from the Ford Foundation, it now has 31 local offices and a rural program that reach 44 states and 1400 counties. LISC takes a holistic approach to its mission, believing that housing, business, jobs, education, safety, and health are all essential ingredients for neighborhood revitalization. LISC also believes that no one knows what a community needs better than its own local leaders and community members themselves. Therefore empowerment comes not just from providing external aid, but developing internal resources as well.
While much of the financial support LISC provides is through lending and equity investing, they do make grants available in the following areas:
- Organizational development grants - help community organizations with internal capacity building.
- Strategic planning grants - help with the cost of new programs.
- Project grants - help with the cost of real estate development.
- Other grants - help with the cost of training, consultants and award programs.
Selected LISC Programs
The following are selected programs available through LISC and their partners for projects in low-income, disadvantaged and underserved communities. With the exception of the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, all applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested parties for these programs and other offerings should contact their local LISC office.
National Football League Foundation (NFL): NFL Foundation Grassroots Program
Technical and financial assistance is made available to improve accessibility to local football fields in low and moderate income neighborhoods and sustain open spaces for community use. Eligible applicants are nonprofits and school districts. Proposal is due 10/16/2017.
Loans for Education: Child Care Centers
Working parents need low-cost child care to thrive economically. This loan program finances early childhood centers with affordable rates. Eligible applicants are nonprofits and the private sector.
Loans for Health: Healthy Food
Making federally designated food deserts bloom is the aim of this program which finances projects that increase availability of healthy food through retail food outlets and food co-ops. Eligible applicants are nonprofits and the private sector.
Loans for Housing: Rental Housing
This program invests in the preservation and development of affordable multifamily rental and market rate housing. Eligible applicants are nonprofits and the private sector.
Loans for Health: Health Care
Loans are available for community-based health care facilities. Eligible applicants are local government, tribal organizations, academic institutions, nonprofits.
Loans for Education: Charter Schools
This program backs high quality charter schools in order to provide more educational choice to parents in areas with historically under performing school districts. Eligible applicants are schools/school districts, the private sector, and nonprofits.
Growing Rural Communities Fund
This fund helps leverage New Markets Tax Credit equity with additional capital to finance projects that can not secure traditional lending opportunities because of their size and location. Eligible projects include office, retail, mixed-use, industrial, health care, or other commercial or nonprofit use. Eligibility is limited to projects within the continental U.S. with a low-income, non-metro census track.
LISC believes in evidence-based practice. In their report "Building Sustainable Communities" by Christopher Walker, they offer initial research from four case studies that offer promising results :
- Olneyville, RI - revitalizing existing neighborhoods with affordable housing, art galleries, street improvement, and park face lifts helped this deindustrialized town retain residents.
- North Philadelphia - rehabilitating blighted neighborhoods, demolishing condemned buildings, and converting abandoned lots to parking lots and community gardens may have helped lead to better employment numbers in LISC neighborhoods.
- The Quad Communities of Chicago - redeveloping a commercial corridor, removing antiquated public housing, encouraging farmer's markets, business improvement, arts and culture have contributed to a decrease in crime and business vacancy rates and an increase in access to health care and educational opportunities.
- Southeast Indianapolis - renovating housing and business districts, as well as creative placemaking with arts, entertainment, and the linking of the Cultural Trail bike and pedestrian network have assisted a commercial resurgence.
For more information on what LISC is doing, visit:
Their impact page: http://www.lisc.org/about-us/impact/
Their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/localinitiatives