Loans: Community Investment

Featured Loan: 1801 E. Huntingdon

Building neighborhood spaces in Philadelphia’s Kensington Avenue

$475,000 participation in a $950,000 predevelopment loan led by Reinvestment Fund (September 2022)

Smith & Roller Holdings (S&R) uses real estate development, communications, social impact, entrepreneurship, and community engagement to inform their approach to community development. By partnering with people in city government, education, urban planning, community organizing, and the arts, S&R reactivates historically significant properties in Philadelphia and turns them into spaces that nurture creativity, commerce, and public engagement. In North Philadelphia’s Kensington and Harrowgate communities, Smith & Roller recently developed 40,000 square feet of commercial space for entrepreneurs of color alongside 116 units of housing that offer discounted rent for residents who volunteer through the organization’s Good Neighbors program.

Smith & Roller Holdings is currently working on the construction of a new five-story residential building in North Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. They are also renovating two existing buildings: a former industrial building and a former bank. This loan will fund architecture, engineering, and pre-construction management costs for the three buildings, which will ultimately contain 90 units of housing, more than a third of which will be affordable to people earning up to 80% of the area median income. The building will also contain 36 live-work spaces for creatives and a food hall, commercial kitchen, and training program for BIPOC and low-income entrepreneurs. The development will offer Kensington residents affordable places to live and work – an important step towards the organization’s long-term goal of building a thriving Kensington that truly serves the diverse community of people who call it home.

Black Cultural Zone (BCZ) CDC is composed of Black residents, leaders, and community organizers in East Oakland, California. Their mission is to unapologetically center Black arts, culture, and economics to design, resource, transform, and build collective power for Black folks. By building community presence, reactivating real estate, and directing more dollars to community driven projects, BCZ creates opportunities for over 100,000 East Oakland residents to thrive each year.

BCZ is committed to addressing the displacement of Black people and communities in Oakland. One way that BCZ does this is by purchasing and operating commercial and mixed-use properties in East Oakland’s Black Cultural Zone. These spaces are then developed and reactivated for community use – specifically for Black people and Black businesses. Financed through NFF's zero-interest CARE Fund, this loan will support the development of 68 affordable housing units, a market hall, food hub, and more. As they grow, BCZ will be able to activate even more community spaces for Black people, organizations, and businesses to flourish.
The mission of En2action is to engage, empower, and inspire action to promote equitable growth, build resilient communities, and achieve transformative social good – with a focus on serving BIPOC entrepreneurs. Primarily serving BIPOC communities with a focus on Black communities, En2action provides collaborative kitchen space for BIPOC chefs, offers marketing training for Black business owners, and organizes a weekly food box distribution program for neighbors facing food insecurity. En2action reports that 80-90% of their clients are low-income, and most identify as BIPOC. Since its founding in 2019, En2action has supported the growth of 50 Black-owned businesses, engaged with at least 5,000 community members, and produced over 1,000 food boxes.

En2action receives much of its funding from grants and contracts with the city and county of San Francisco. However, like many government agencies, San Francisco agencies pay nonprofits after work is conducted, not before – and COVID-19 exacerbated delays in these payments that already existed. Financed through NFF’s Bay Area Racial Equity Fund, which provides zero-interest loans with flexible repayment plans to BIPOC-led nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area, this loan will smooth over cash flow issues caused by delays in government reimbursement and provide some of the cash needed for En2action to meet payroll and focus on growing its essential programs. With support from this financing, En2action can continue building programs that foster equity and collaboration in BIPOC communities across the Bayview region.
Since 1990, Beech Interplex (Beech) has provided a variety of services and programs for residents of Cecil B. Moore Community, a historically disinvested 26-square block area in North Central Philadelphia. A part of Black-led, mission-driven community development firm Beech Companies, Beech Interplex advocates for stronger neighborhoods through community and commercial development. Beech believes in taking a holistic, collaborative approach to neighborhood revitalization that encourages the active participation of residents in order to improve the quality of life in their communities. Through job placement, education, and rehabilitation services, Beech’s work of promoting homeownership and rental opportunities in the Cecil B. Moore community spans three decades and has helped improve living conditions for at least 60,000 Northern Philadelphia residents.

In 1944, renowned African American printmaker Dox Thrash purchased a three-story brick structure located at 2340 Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Known today as Dox Thrash House, it holds rich historic and cultural significance in the community. Financed through NFF’s zero-interest CARE Fund, this loan will provide a portion of the funding needed to acquire the Dox Thrash House and purchase a vacant lot adjacent to Beech Interplex’s current Dox Thrash development – investments that will ensure this historic building remains an anchor in the community for years to come.
The Kensington Corridor Trust (KCT) is a Philadelphia-based organization grounded in the belief that neighbors have the power to affect change in their own neighborhood. Through local partnerships and community programming, the KCT’s goal is to keep assets and wealth in the control of the community. By reactivating real estate, fostering local entrepreneurship, and reinvesting capital into the neighborhood, the KCT’s mission is to build local wealth among residents and include community members in a values-aligned approach to development that protects the communities that make up the neighborhood today. One way that the KCT does this is by purchasing and operating commercial and mixed-use properties on Kensington Avenue on behalf of the neighborhood. These spaces are then developed and reactivated for community ownership and use.

Financed through NFF’s CARE Fund, which offers 0% interest loans to community-centered nonprofits led by and serving people of color, this loan will finance the acquisition of two properties into the trust – an important step towards the organization’s long-term goal of restoring control of Kensington’s buildings to Kensington residents. As they grow, KCT will be able to provide more spaces that foster economic equity and thriving communities.
New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) uses real estate development, community engagement, and direct services to meet the housing needs of Philadelphia’s Kensington, Port Richmond, and Fishtown residents. NKCDC aims to revitalize these communities by acquiring and developing high-quality affordable housing for lower-income residents and creating public green spaces that all residents can enjoy. By offering free homebuyer courses, small business consulting, and more, NKCDC provides resources to community members most at risk of being displaced. NKCDC’s executive director, Dr. Bill McKinney, is from the Kensington neighborhood and is committed to addressing displacement and the impacts of the opioid epidemic on residents.

As it grows, NKCDC has identified a commercial corridor of 19 properties on Kensington Avenue to activate and revitalize as a part of its North of Lehigh Revitalization Plan. Offered through NFF’s CARE Fund, which offers 0% interest loans to community-centered nonprofits led by people of color, this loan will finance renovations for three existing corridor properties. With support from this loan, NKCDC will be able to activate more community spaces and provide critical health services to even more residents.
Greenline Access Capital (Greenline) is an emerging nonprofit microlender founded with the goal to address a persistent gap in access to capital for financially underserved men and women. The lack of bilingual microlenders in the region has structurally barred Spanish-speaking immigrant entrepreneurs from accessing capital. Greenline helps fill this gap by offering all of their services in both English and Spanish. Their services will include character-based microloans, technical assistance, and access to a lending network and mentorship for historically underserved entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia region. The loans they offer will help entrepreneurs start, grow, or stabilize their businesses, will range in size from $500 to $25,000, and will not require a minimum credit score – a historic barrier to access for immigrants, low-income people, and people of color trying to start businesses.

NFF is new to offering start-up capital to nonprofits. However, Greenline is an excellent initial candidate for this type of loan; we were impressed by the organization’s clear mission, detailed business plan, tenure within the communities they aim to serve, and strong case for how they’d use this loan. Provided through NFF’s zero-interest CARE Fund, this loan will support the salary of Greenline’s first loan officer and help them invest in the infrastructure they need to effectively serve their borrowers. We’re proud to partner with Greenline to invest in Philadelphia-area entrepreneurs who will now have the capital they need to launch businesses in their communities.
Over the last two decades, Urban Tree Connection has transformed the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Haddington alongside community leaders, catalyzing residents' demand for green space and locally produced fresh food. They have redeveloped 29 vacant lots, totaling more than 86,000 square feet of land for communal growing and gathering, sustainable (chemical free) food production and distribution, and multigenerational health and wellness education. This includes a ¾ acre urban farm – Neighborhood Foods Farm - which produces over 6,500 pounds of chemical-free produce annually. UTC has been at the forefront of urban farming and land reclamation movements in Philadelphia, helping pioneer key tools for legal reclamation of abandoned properties. Neighbors, once isolated from each other, increasingly connect through the gardens created on these formerly abandoned lots, as well as through the diverse array of educational and community programs that UTC offers. These personal connections have, in turn, empowered neighbors to continue to transform their community. Today, Haddington residents are increasingly realizing the potential for growing food on abandoned lots in their neighborhood and are active partners with UTC in developing a community based local food system aimed at making affordable, healthy, Haddington-grown food available to every neighbor.

Offered through NFF’s CARE Fund, this loan will replace a collateral-dependent loan with a 5% interest rate with an unsecured, zero-interest loan. This will free up cash that would have been spent on interest on credit to invest into Urban Tree Connection’s infrastructure and the community it serves. It is also a first step towards one of Urban Tree Connection’s long-term goals: a partnership with a financial institution that shares the organization’s commitment to racial and economic justice.
East New York Restoration Local Development Corporation (ENYRLDC) works to increase career and business opportunities in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of East New York. The organization’s goal is to foster a solid foundation for economic development by supporting small businesses, job development, and efforts to keep communities clean, green, and environmentally informed.

Last year, ENYRLDC began constructing an outdoor adult fitness center in an East New York community after learning from seniors in the community that they lacked the adequate facilities. At the same time, the organization saw an increase in demand for its existing programs: community cleanups, green programs, a job development center, job fairs, and placing/cleaning trashcans in identified stress corners in East New York. Their responsiveness to community need coupled with city contract payout delays placed an increasing amount of strain on the organization’s cash flow – strain that the executive director alleviated by making a personal loan to the organization. Financed through NFF’s zero-interest CARE Fund, this loan will both pay off that personal loan and bridge the financing ENYRLDC needs to complete the fitness center while city contract payouts continue to be delayed. Effectively, this loan will ease cash flow pressures on the organization while supporting the health and wellness of East New York communities.
Since 1974, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) has worked to unite diverse people and institutions to fight for racial justice and economic democracy in the Bronx and beyond. Through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), NWBCCC works with landlords in the Bronx to invest in the structural health and safety of their buildings. At the same time, part of its community organizing work, the organization uses active outreach and leadership development to empower Bronx residents to take action around issues including educational and restorative justice, health justice, energy democracy, equitable economic development, and affordable housing. In 2021 NWBCCC served 5,000 people, 95% of whom qualified as low-income.

Financed through NFF’s zero-interest CARE Fund, this loan will bridge delays in payments on its government contracts with New York State and New York City. This loan will provide the organization with the space to build up its reserves through philanthropic sources – reserves it can draw from for future working capital needs and use to respond nimbly to the evolving needs of Bronx communities.

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