Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Local Initiatives Support Corporation
FounderFord Foundation
TypeNon-Profit CDFI
  • Headquartered in New York City, Local Offices in 30+ Cities in the USA
Area served
United States
MethodGrants, Loans, Investments
Key people
Robert Rubin: Chairman of the Board
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$121,483,767[1]

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is a US non-profit community development financial institution (CDFI) that supports community development initiatives across the country. It has offices in nearly 40 cities and works across 2,100 rural counties in 44 states.[2] LISC was created in 1979 by executives from the Ford Foundation.[3] LISC's affiliates include the National Equity Fund (NEF), the largest national syndicator of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC),[4] the New Markets Support Company, a national syndicator of New Markets Tax Credits,[5] and immito, which specializes in SBA 7a lending.

LISC and its affiliates support community development projects through grants, loans and equity investments as well as technical and management assistance. In the 2020 fiscal year, it reported grants, loans and investments totaling US$2 billion, leveraging $4.4 billion in total development and supporting over 700 partners across America. Since 1979, LISC has invested $24 billion into communities, leveraging $69 billion to support the creation of 436,000 affordable homes and apartments and 74.4 million square feet of retail and community facilities.[6]


Previous logo

The idea for LISC was conceived in 1979 by a group of Ford Foundation officials, including foundation president Franklin A, Thomas, and trustees visiting community development projects in Baltimore.[7][8] One of the trustees asked Ford Foundation Vice President Mitchell Sviridoff "what he would do if he had $25 million to spend on helping declining cities." Sviridoff responded that he would "identify competent leaders in 50 to 100 communities around the nation and give them as much money and support as possible."[7] Sviridoff went on to become LISC's first president. Robert D. Lilley, a former president of AT&T, was chosen to be the first chair of LISC’s board.

LISC was founded in December 1979 and formally announced in May 1980, with $10 million in capital from the Ford Foundation, Aetna, Continental Illinois Bank, International Harvester, Levi Strauss & Co., and Prudential Insurance.[9] LISC made its first loans and grants to 27 community organizations in December 1980. The initial grantees were a diverse group, including housing developers in New York City, child-care facilities in California and economic development organizations in rural Appalachia.[10] By 1985, LISC had raised $100 million and was active in 20 cities.

The South Bronx quickly became a focus for the new organizations work. In addition to banks and foundations, LISC began raising capital from private corporations like Macy’s, CBS, Metlife, and Time, Inc. LISC’s investments in the Bronx helped stabilize the borough after the “Bronx is burning” era of the 1970s. The investments resulted in the first private homes built in the Bronx in decades.[11] LISC’s work in the South Bronx received wide acclaim from the media, local residents and government officials. The success of early efforts in the South Bronx became the model for community development throughout the country.[7] In 1997 President Bill Clinton toured Charlotte Street in the Bronx, one of the first LISC projects, and noted "Look at where the Bronx was when President Jimmy Carter came here in despair. Look at where the Bronx was when President Reagan came here and compared it to London in the Blitz. Look at the Bronx today. If you can do it, everybody else can do it."[12][13][14]

1980s: Low Income Housing Tax Credit[edit]

LISC was an early advocate for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which created by the Reagan Administration in the Tax Reform Act of 1986. In 1987, LISC launched the National Equity Fund (NEF) to syndicate LIHTC, raising $14.5 million in the first year.[15] In 1988 LISC raised $51 Million for affordable housing project through LIHTC, and $77 Million in 1990.[16][17] Although LIHTC was initially created as a temporary measure set to expire by 1989, its effectiveness prompted LISC and other organizations to advocate for its extension. In 1993, Congress granted LIHTC permanent status.[18][19] Once LIHTC achieved permanency, LISC and NEF launched a program to build $1.5 Billion dollars worth of affordable housing.[20]

1990s: Rural Program, Partnerships, Robert Rubin[edit]

In 1995 LISC launched Rural LISC, expanding beyond urban areas in an effort to spur rural economic and housing development. In its first year, Rural LISC supported 68 rural development organizations. Today, it partners with hundreds of organizations in over one thousand rural counties.[21][22]

In 1997 LISC partnered with the NFL to create and refurbish playing fields in low-income urban areas. In 1999, Clinton's Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin became the Chairman of the Board of LISC.[23] In 2002, with support from the Walton Family Foundation, LISC began financing charter schools.[22]

2000s: Building Sustainable Communities[edit]

In 2007, under the leadership of CEO Michael Rubinger, LISC created a comprehensive community development strategy called Building Sustainable Communities (BSC), which featured five place-based goals.

Expanding investment in housing and other real estate[edit]

Affordable housing is the largest LISC program area. While many LISC initiatives finance the construction of new homes,[24] others refurbish existing housing stock or help municipalities reclaim abandoned "Zombie Homes"[25][26]

Increasing family income and wealth[edit]

LISC supports nationwide job training and financial literacy programs through a network of 71 Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs). FOCs provide low-income individuals with personal career coaching and job placement programs, financial and credit literacy training and access to public benefits.[27][28][29]

Stimulating economic development[edit]

LISC works with local governments and civic groups to finance the construction or redevelopment of retail corridors, arts center and civic institutions. Examples include:

Improving access to quality education[edit]

LISC is a major financier of charter schools nationwide.[33] According to the LA Times, at least a dozen schools in California would run out of money without financing from LISC designed to cover shortfalls in state funding.[34] LISC's Schoolbuild Portal is an information resource for Charter Schools that want to finance facility improvements.[35]

Supporting healthy environments and lifestyles[edit]

LISC partners with the NFL in the "Grassroots" program, which has built or rehabilitated 269 youth and community football fields nationwide [36][37] In 2012, LISC launched the "Healthy Futures Fund" to create affordable housing units linked with health care and social services.[38] LISC's Community Safety Initiative works with police departments and local residents to improve police-community relations and reduce crime.[39][40]

2010s: Housing Crisis, Preventing Displacement, Impact Investment[edit]

In the 2010s, many of the neighborhoods LISC had been working in for decades became attractive to private development. Compounded with the effects of the Great Recession, this led to a national housing crisis, with market-rate rents becoming unaffordable to middle- and lower-income families in many major American cities. LISC offices responded to the crisis by working to preserve affordable housing and prevent displacement.[41][42][43]

In 2016, former Virginia Secretary of Commerce Maurice A. Jones became LISC's fourth CEO.[44] Under Jones' tenure, LISC began to focus resources on impact investing in an effort to attract private investors from diverse sectors to community development. In 2017, LISC became the first CDFI to enter the commercial bond market, raising $100MM from its initial offering of SustainAbility Bonds.[45][46] In 2018, LISC helped create the first impact investing funds focused on the creative economy.[47]

2020s: Pandemic response, racial equity[edit]

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, LISC responded with new investments to stem the economic fallout, especially to small businesses. It launched a small business grant program that provided more than $200 million in grants to over 16,000 small businesses. The majority of the businesses supported with minority- and women-owned. It also launched a new $1B initiative over the next 10 years to help close the racial wealth, health and opportunity gap. [48]


  • Mitchell Sviridoff, 1980-1985[49]
  • Paul Grogan, 1986-1998[50]
  • Michael Rubinger, 1998-2016
  • Maurice A. Jones, 2016–2020
  • Lisa L. Glover, 2020-2023
  • Michael T. Pugh, 2023-present[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Local Initiatives Support Corporation" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  2. ^ "LISC Homepage (About Us)". LISC. Archived from the original on May 10, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "Case 52: Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)" (PDF). Duke Sanford School of Public Policy.
  4. ^ "Who We Are "About Us"". Website. NEF. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  5. ^ "New Markets Support Company "About Us"". NMSC.
  6. ^ "2020 LISC Annual Report"".
  7. ^ a b c Teltsch, Kathleen (July 6, 1981). "Funds Are Packaged to Aid Communities". New York Times.
  8. ^ Risen, Clay (December 23, 2021). "Franklin A. Thomas, Pathbreaking Ford Foundation President, Dies at 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  9. ^ "Contl. Illinois is Among Sponsors of Community Development Aid Panel". The American Banker. May 23, 1980.
  10. ^ "Nonprofit Firm Picks 27 Recipients for Aid to Blighted Neighborhoods". The American Banker. December 19, 1980.
  11. ^ "Four NY Banks Participate in South Bronx Revitalization Plan". The American Banker. May 18, 1981.
  12. ^ Yardley, Jim (December 11, 1997). "Clinton Praises Bronx Renewal as U.S. Model". The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  13. ^ Hunt, Terence (December 10, 1997). "NEW YORK President Clinton Tours New York's South Bronx and Proclaims the Urban Neighborhood As a Model for Rest of Nation". AP Associated Press. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  14. ^ Clinton, Bill (2007). Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World. New York: Knopf. pp. 125–127. ISBN 9780307266743.
  15. ^ DePalma, Anthony (January 17, 1988). "Tax Credits Produce Housing for Poor". New York Times.
  16. ^ Sudo, Philip (October 12, 1988). "12 Financial Institutions Invest $51 Million in Housing Project". The American Banker.
  17. ^ "LISC raises $77MM Low-Income Funds". National Mortgage NEws. March 19, 1990.
  18. ^ "Groups Want Permanent LIHTC". National Mortgage News. April 19, 1993.
  19. ^ "Biggest Private Investment; Housing Efforts Get $1B". National Mortgage News. September 27, 1993.
  20. ^ Sichelman, Lew (October 12, 1988). "LISC plan slots $1.5B for Affordable". National Mortgage News.
  21. ^ "LISC & FHLBs Provide CDC Rural Funds". November 6, 1995.
  22. ^ a b "About Us (History)". LISC. Archived from the original on June 16, 2006. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  23. ^ Swope, Christopher (August 2000). "Robert Rubin's Urban Crusade". Governing. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  24. ^ "Studio E's affordable housing "hat trick" – Brisas de Paz opens in Desert Hot Springs!". Studio E.
  25. ^ "Joshua's Court". Curbed NY. Archived from the original on June 16, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  26. ^ "LISC 2011 Annual Report". www.lisc.org. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  27. ^ Rubinger, Michael. "Key is holding a job, not just getting one". Reuters. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  28. ^ Walker, Chris. "Scaling Smarter, Scaling for Keeps". Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  29. ^ "Financial Opportunity Centers". LISC Website. Archived from the original on May 10, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  30. ^ Newsome, Oramenta (March 22, 2013). "The seeds of the H Street 'Miracle'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 16, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  31. ^ Zimmerman, Julie Irwin (February 11, 2013). "Indianapolis's Non-Profits Move In Together". The Atlantic Cities. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  32. ^ Thomas, Pam. "Fishtown on the Rise". The Institute for Comprehensive Community Development. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  33. ^ Shalvey, Don. "A Teaching Moment for the Financial Markets". Impatient Optimists. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  34. ^ Hiltzik, Michael (April 16, 2013). "State's Budget Fakery Takes a Toll on Charter Schools". LA Times. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  35. ^ "SNCR honors organizations for innovative use of digital, mobile and social media". The Conference Board. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  36. ^ Brunt, Stephen. "Carver Football Field of Hope". Brunt Essay. Sportsnet Canada. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  37. ^ "Our Work "Youth Development and Recreation"". Website. LISC. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  38. ^ Dolan, Matthew (January 13, 2013). "Public-Private Fund Aims at Health Care, Housing Gap". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  39. ^ "LISC CSI". LISC. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  40. ^ O'Brien, Brandon (April 29, 2013). "LISC, police department create director of community safety position". Neighborhood News Service Milwaukee. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  41. ^ O'Connel, Jonathan (May 3, 2016). "Nonprofit commits $50 Million to prevent gentrification east of the Anacostia River". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  42. ^ "The Crisis: How stressed are America's renters? I".
  43. ^ "A convening about Neighborhood Change, Displacement and Equitable Development".
  44. ^ "LISC Names New CEO". LISC.org. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  45. ^ Bank, David (June 14, 2017). "Spreading the Sustainability Story on Wall Street". Impact Alpha. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  46. ^ Abello, Oscar Perry (April 4, 2017). "LISC offers first CDFI bond to bring private capital to low-income communities". Impact Alpha. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  47. ^ Sullivan, Paul (October 19, 2018). "A Push to Invest in the Arts Grows Stronger". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  48. ^ url=http://www.lisc.org/our-stories/story/lisc-unveils-project-10x-1-billion-plan-tackle-racial-inequality/
  49. ^ Pristin, Terry (October 23, 2000). "Mitchell Sviridoff, 81, Dies; Renewal Chief". The New York Times.
  50. ^ "Paul Grogan Biography". tbf.org. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  51. ^ McKinney, Jeffrey (August 30, 2023). "Exclusive: Incoming LISC CEO Pledges To Keep Helping Black Americans Despite New Challenges". Black Enterprise. Retrieved January 10, 2024.

Further reading[edit]

  • Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio, Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Renewal. New York: Basic Books, 2001.
  • Tony Proscio Becoming What We Can Be: Stories of Community Development in Washington DC. New York: LISC, 2012.

External links[edit]