LISC’s unique national-local structure enables them to field national program experts in critical community development issues.
As the local affiliate in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Neighborhood Allies has access to and can connect our network to these national experts who provide technical assistance to local office staff and practitioners in local community organizations, and participate in policy efforts of the community development industry.
LISC supports the creation of quality, affordable housing as a basic requisite of well-being–for individuals and communities. LISC invests in all kinds of affordable housing. They help develop new multi-family rentals, and preserve existing ones that could be lost to market forces or deterioration. They finance sustainable, “green” construction and rehabilitation, which makes for lower operating costs and has been proven to boost health outcomes for occupants and entire neighborhoods. And they lead foreclosure interventions that help people keep their homes, or that reinvigorate communities where foreclosure has decimated block after block.
LISC provides grants, loans and equity for nearly every aspect of development, from planning and acquisition to construction and renovation. They do this through LISC Housing and our affiliates, the National Equity Fund and the Community Development Trust. They also offer technical assistance, data and mapping tools to community-based organizations working to improve the supply and condition of affordable housing in their neighborhoods. And they advocate for good housing policy at all levels of government. Read more.
Educational opportunity and choice are indispensable to progress and well-being for people and communities. That’s why LISC invests in early childhood learning facilities, high quality charter school facilities and robust after-school and continuing education opportunities.
Communities can flourish when families have access to quality early childhood education, high-performing schools and enrichment activities for their children, and when adults can get the skills training and continuing education they need to land and advance in living wage jobs.
That’s why promoting educational opportunity is at the foundation of the work LISC does in neighborhoods across the country.
To increase educational choice and access to good schools, Charter School Financing at LISC supports public charter schools that put their all into preparing students for college, career and life. Since 1997, we have provided more than $278 million in financing for charter facilities in low-income neighborhoods.
And because early childhood education is well-documented as the single most effective means for closing the achievement gap, our Early Childhood Facilities program (also known as the Community Investment Collaborative for Kids or CICK) has invested $55 million to help plan, build or refurbish nearly 190 early childhood facilities in under-served places. Read more.
Neighborhoods flourish when residents have access to living wage jobs and goods and services they need. We invest in programs that support entrepreneurship, attract new businesses, diversify the local retail mix and stimulate employment.
LISC’s economic development initiatives boost the health of neighborhoods by investing in the physical and social assets of a community’s business district. To make this happen, they support programs and invest in projects that cultivate entrepreneurship, attract new businesses, diversify the local retail mix and stimulate employment. It’s the kind of development that grows local job opportunities and incomes, and brings goods and services to places where they’re needed. These changes, in turn, ripple outward, beyond individual neighborhoods, improving the landscape for industry and employment, bolstering cities’ tax revenues and stimulating regional economies.
Through the New Markets Support Company, one of our affiliates, we syndicate federal New Markets Tax Credits to energize retail corridors, clean up brownfield sites and reinforce investment in housing, schools and neighborhood services. Our retail and commercial lending tools offer financing for all stages of a project. They help build affordable housing developments and office buildings, bring supermarkets to food deserts and refurbish main streets. Read more.
We know that healthy, sustainable communities are made up of people who have living wage jobs and feel confident about their economic futures. To get there, residents need the skills to advance along the path of employment and manage their money well. That’s why LISC invests in helping people tackle all the facets of financial life—earning a steady pay check, budgeting, building good credit and saving for education and retirement.
LISC’s financial stability programs connect low- to moderate- income families with the financial and labor market mainstream. We offer employment and career services, financial coaching and education and low-cost financial products that build credit, savings and assets. Read more.
Because zip code, even more than genetic code, determines a person’s physical health, our health programming tackles many facets of neighborhood life, working to improve access to healthy food, primary health care and safe places to exercise.
LISC’s approach to improving health in underserved places is holistic: they promote affordable, green housing, safety, good education, job opportunities and financial stability—all of which factor into the health and wellbeing of a community. But they also target their work to shore up three fundamental resources every neighborhood needs to keep residents well: easy access to primary health care, affordable, nutritious food and safe places to exercise.
Through LISC’s local offices, they’ve helped reclaim or create hundreds of parks, greenways and trails where residents from all walks of life can get out and move their bodies. And more and more, the housing and community spaces we invest in feature exercise rooms, swimming pools, dance studios and other places for physical activity.
Safety is a prerequisite for a vibrant neighborhood. LISC promotes partnerships and renewal efforts that reduce crime and build community at the same time.
Safety is fundamental to the health and vitality of communities. People need to know that their children can walk to school without fear, and that their neighborhood streets and parks are peaceful places—every bit as much as they need good, affordable housing, living-wage jobs and strong schools.
Safety is also critical to attracting community-minded businesses and homeowners to neighborhoods. When crime is high, local economies shrivel. Revitalization and crime reduction must go hand in hand.
LISC helps communities build their way out of crime. That means transforming nuisance properties into good, affordable housing, inviting businesses to streets where crime once deterred investment and reclaiming parks to make them safe places for people from all walks of life to enjoy.
LISC Safety (formerly known as Community Safety Initiative or CSI) supports residents, police, community developers and other people who care about a neighborhood to collaborate in addressing crime and disorder. In 2012, they were selected to provide technical assistance for the Justice Department’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, which teams up law enforcement, researchers and neighbors to tackle crime and build community. With LISC support, grantees gather data and use it to tailor crime reduction strategies for specific, local places. Read more.
LISC’s work hinges on the insight, experience and expertise of hundreds of community development groups rebuilding neighborhoods across the country. The better they do their job, the better we can do our–and the more communities we support together.
LISC helps neighborhoods to become more effective change-makers. They do this through financing, in the form of operating grants and working capital. And it happens via training programs and learning opportunities for staff and leadership at the community development corporations (CDCs) and many other local groups with whom we partner.
The Institute for Comprehensive Community Development serves as an industry resource and clearinghouse for news, best practices and webinars for anyone who wants to learn more about our approach to comprehensive community development. LISC conferences, webinars, guidebooks, reports and research papers all aim to cast a wide net across sectors and practitioners, sharing knowledge and sparking conversations.
And for more than ten years, our LISC AmeriCorps progam has placed passionate, community-minded people with partner CDCs in neighborhoods where we work. LISC AmeriCorps members help engage residents in revitalization projects and bolster the staffing and capacity of the organizations where they work. Read more.
Policy and Research
Being effective at what they do requires having both an on-the-ground view of neighborhoods, and a panoramic take on all the forces that shape communities. It requires sensitivity to the needs and desires of residents and attention to how well our programs stick. And it requires seeing the big picture: pulling the lens back and working to shape the overarching government policies that help or hinder low-income communities.
To that end, LISC’s Research & Assessment team continually gauges the factors at play in communities and measures the outcomes for people touched by their programs. Does our approach help residents of disinvested neighborhoods? Are they better off? What strategies give us the best shot at making communities better places to live? In asking these questions, and analyzing the answers, we help all our local offices and national programs gear their work to the realities expressed in data.
This research, along with input from our local offices, our rural program and our partners, in turn informs our Policy team. LISC Policy is an active presence on Capitol Hill, and works at the local and state levels, too, to rally support for the government programs that make our efforts to revitalize distressed communities possible. Read more.