OFN and Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation have released the 2018 Uplift America Fund Progress Report, which documents successes and lessons learned in the second year of the fund. OFN recently assumed the role of coordinating partner, helping the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation shepherd forward the program’s learnings, communications, and other efforts.
The Uplift America Fund is a new kind of partnership that leverages federal resources, bank financing, and private grants to target much-needed capital to persistently low-wealth areas. The Fund makes low-interest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans and private grant support available to community lenders, particularly CDFIs, that provide funding in economically distressed areas of Appalachia, the Texas-Mexico border, the rural South, and Native American reservations. These funds can be used for community facilities projects, like health clinics, schools, libraries, food banks, municipal buildings, and childcare centers.
CDFIs are a key part of the collaborations needed to pull off these community facility projects. They provide access to financial capital, technical expertise, knowledge of federal and other funding sources, and deep relationships with other local actors. They are often the glue that helps make these projects happen.
The report looks at highlights of the program in 2018, projects in the pipeline, and the importance of CDFIs in the Uplift partnership. Read the full report here.