Human Services / Nonprofit Sector

The Unity Council

A Social Equity Development Corporation

The Need

A stronger foundation to support East Oakland, CA, individuals and families

Our Response

Partnering to map out financial adaptability and mission clarity

On any given day, employees of The Unity Council (TUC) can be found helping toddlers from low-income families become school ready; senior citizens move into new, independent homes; job-seekers improve their skills and resumes; families save and plan for financially stable futures, and small-business owners develop and market their services.

TUC programs and staff annually support up to 10,000 residents of Fruitvale, the neighborhood with Oakland’s largest Latino community, as they take important steps toward greater self-sufficiency, economic stability, health and well-being, and civic engagement. Whatever program may be their entrance door, TUC clients are welcomed into a holistic environment with wraparound support services.

“Our programs provide the tools, knowledge, and resources to help people transform their lives and ultimately achieve their long-term educational, career, and financial goals,” says Chris Iglesias, TUC CEO.

Established in 1964 during the height of the US Civil Rights era, TUC continued to build, acquire and manage real estate and operations into assets that today encompass a social enterprise and job-training program, affordable housing, a farmer’s market, vibrant public and arts spaces, and the nationally recognized Fruitvale Transit Village.

But in 2015, TUC found itself facing some big financial challenges, and partnered with NFF to conduct an analysis and plan the best ways forward.

“NFF worked with Chris’ team, several funders and stakeholders, and other consultants to help TUC identify and solve for some challenges in their organizational and financial infrastructure,” says Bill Pinakiewicz, Vice President and Chief Strategic Innovation Officer in NFF Advisory Services. “This collaboration led TUC to restructure its finances for greater stability and adaptability, and to articulate a financial and mission story that fully captures the organization’s value to East Oakland. TUC programs and services help individuals and families access social and economic opportunities previously inaccessible to them. TUC builds much more than community – it builds individual and collective social equity.”

TUC’s new mission statement reflects that change: To promote social equity and improve quality of life by building vibrant communities where everyone can work, learn, and thrive.

“We go above and beyond the traditional role of a Community Development Corporation and have for years,” says Iglesias. “With NFF’s continuing guidance, and generous support from investors and funders, TUC today is stronger in our finances and in our identity. When we articulate our purpose and our promise to prospective investors and funders, we now state proudly and clearly: The Unity Council is a Social Equity Development Corporation.”

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