Message from Leadership
“We are committed to building a broadly shared prosperity where everyone can succeed.”
Like most Americans, our teams across the country spent much of 2020 grappling with the shock and grief of the pandemic. We approached our work with a clear focus on addressing socio-economic and racial disparities and we worried about the escalating impact of job loss and financial uncertainty.
But we were also in a position to rapidly respond. Having spent four decades investing in the social and economic infrastructure of communities, LISC had the capacity to reach people whom the conventional financial market does not directly serve. Last year, our experience proved to be vital.
When corporations and philanthropies began looking for new, rapid ways to address the year’s challenges, they turned to LISC because we already had a well-tested capital distribution system in place. We already understood how to lend and invest in under-resourced communities and to help people recover from financial and climate disasters. We were already deeply engaged on issues related to equity, inclusion and economic opportunity.
As a result, LISC invested more than $2 billion in grants, loans and equity during 2020. We launched creative new initiatives, like Project 10X and the Black Economic Development Fund, both of which are deepening our efforts to address racial gaps in health, wealth and opportunity. We quadrupled our grantmaking, with support for both urban and rural communities, and we connected with new impact investors so we could expand LISC-managed community investment funds on behalf of our partners, as well as raise capital through our LISC Impact Notes.
LISC invested more than $2 billion in grants, loans and equity during 2020
“We launched Project 10X and the Black Economic Development Fund, both of which are deepening our efforts to address racial gaps in health, wealth and opportunity.”
With four decades investing in the social and economic infrastructure of communities, LISC had the capacity to reach people whom the conventional financial market does not directly serve. Last year, our experience proved vital.
Though much of 2020 was defined by evolving tragedies, LISC also continued to invest in core community assets like affordable housing, economic development, health, safety and education. Our National Equity Fund affiliate, for example, made record housing investments for the year, keeping projects on track despite the economic uncertainty of the pandemic.
LISC’s lending efforts grew as well, not just on the strength of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, but also through a range of flexible, affordable financing that helped fuel childcare centers and schools, retail, small manufacturing, services firms and more—each of them serving low- and moderate-income communities, each creating jobs and supporting local incomes.
You can read more on all of that throughout this year’s annual report. But we also urge you to look beyond the numbers. Our 2020 experience offers some clear takeaways for the future.
First, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) like LISC are critical to our national well-being. When pandemic relief programs failed to reach many low-income communities and minority-led businesses last year, CDFIs helped sustain many of those enterprises. We focused on reaching businesses and nonprofits led by people of color, women, and veterans, especially those operating in communities that were already economically vulnerable, with emergency grants and PPP loans. In fact, the CDFI sector, as a whole, proved to be a remarkable resource, bridging gaps that neither the public, private nor philanthropic sectors could address on their own.
Second, LISC continues to recognize that widespread economic well-being and economic growth are interdependent. Long-standing disparities regarding race, class, gender and geography negatively affect our communities and country. This is one reason why so many corporations have launched or expanded impact investing programs focused on diversity and inclusion. The cost of entrenched inequality is simply too high.
Finally, in all of this, scale is important. There are whole communities that never recovered from the last recession more than a decade ago, and they include many of the same people and places affected most deeply by loss in 2020. They require large-scale, long-term commitments of capital in order to build stability and resilience. For our country, this is an economic imperative, as well as a moral one. It will require ambitious public policies, private investment strategies and program support in order to succeed.
“There are whole communities that never recovered from the last recession more than a decade ago, and they include many of the same people and places affected most deeply by loss in 2020. They require large-scale, long-term commitments of capital in order to build stability and resilience.”
In closing, we would like to acknowledge our extraordinary LISC team and their remarkable efforts over the past year. They managed an incredible 800,000 applications for small business relief. They quickly built new processes and educated new partners about community development finance. They worked tirelessly to help lawmakers understand the needs of underserved communities so that funding gaps could be addressed. And they did it all while scattered across the country, dealing with their own health and family challenges, navigating their own deep concerns about the future.
Because of their efforts, LISC is in a stronger position than we ever have been, both financially and programmatically. We are long-term partners and investors, and we are committed to building a more broadly shared prosperity, where everyone has the chance to succeed.