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2010 Awardees

Boston Community Capital

$5.5 Million Awardee

Boston Community Capital’s staff pride themselves on looking around the corner—that is, on paying close attention to emerging trends and how they might impact communities. Back in 2006 and 2007, the particular corner they looked around was the mortgage market, and they couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing. “We were looking at rising home prices in the neighborhoods and did not understand how those prices could be sustainable over time,” says Elyse Cherry, the organization’s CEO. “We saw income levels in the neighborhoods that were roughly flat. Meanwhile home prices were rising dramatically. We knew we had a problem coming.” 

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Craft3 (Formerly Enterprise Cascadia)

$2.75 Million Awardee

John Berdes, President and CEO of Enterprise Cascadia, is well aware of the long-term threat that climate change poses for low-income communities, but he also sees something else on the horizon. “At Enterprise Cascadia, we believe that a clean energy economy is emerging today, and that there is an opportunity for those that have historically been excluded from the mainstream to be full participants in this new economy,” he says. Enterprise Cascadia was formed in 1995 to promote economic opportunity and a healthy environment for urban and rural communities of Oregon and Washington, so it is hardly surprising that the organization would envision urgent opportunity in slowing climate change. What is striking, however, is the boldness of its newest initiative to realize that opportunity. 

+ Read More About Craft3

Forward Community Investments (FCI)

$25,000 Awardee – Advocacy

Madison, Wisconsin-based Forward Community Investments (FCI) has been recognized for its Advocacy work representing the very low-income unserved and underserved communities of Wisconsin. FCI’s advocacy work focuses on supporting nonprofits and CDFIs in Wisconsin. In 2009, FCI was instrumental in the passing of an amendment that preserved the tax-exempt status for nonprofit affordable housing providers. Without the amendment, nonprofits that provide housing to low-income individuals and families would have to pay property taxes, resulting in higher costs that would compromise the quality of housing and eliminate supportive services for low-income residents. In 2010, FCI worked closely with Wisconsin legislators to introduce a bill that would stimulate private investments in Wisconsin CDFIs by providing a state tax credit to individuals and corporate investors. Based on California legislation, the Invest Locally to Grow Wisconsin Act would provide a 10% tax credit for investments ranging from $10,000-$150,000 and a 12% tax credit for investments of $150,000-$500,000.

Bethex Federal Credit Union (Bethex)

$25,000 Awardee – Community Impact

Bethex Federal Credit Union (Bethex), based in the Bronx, was awarded the Community Impact prize for achieving a high volume and quality of community outputs to a severely distressed market where the poverty rate is 40.8% and more than half of the children live in poverty. Bethex provides an impressive array of high-impact and high-volume programs and consumer services including low- or no-fee check-cashing services, volunteer income tax assistance, consumer loans, business loans, and real estate. Bethex holds a $2.6 million portfolio of more than 1,000 consumer loans, a $1.9 million portfolio of 46 small business loans, and a $2.3 million portfolio of real estate loans including 10 cooperative apartment building loans to non-profit corporations that promote homeownership among low-income people and prevent purchases by outside investors and speculators.

Business Carolina (BCI)

$25,000 Awardee – Financing

Headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, and providing loans to small businesses in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, Business Carolina (BCI) was selected to receive the Financing award for its substantial growth in financing and its leveraging of financing capital. BCI utilizes an active secondary market for its SBA 7(a)-guaranteed loans in order to maximize the economic impact of each dollar of capital that it lends. Through the sale of the guaranteed portion of each loan, BCI is able to recoup up to 90% of the original principal balance of the loan, plus a typical 5–7% premium. Through leveraging each loan dollar in this manner, BCI can fund up to $10 million in loans for each $1 million of capital lent. BCI has substantially grown its financing from $13.5 million in FY 2007 to $18.1 million in FY 2008 to $35.1 million in FY 2009.

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE)

$25,000 Awardee – Innovation

Based in Cleveland, Georgia, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), formerly known as Appalachian Community Enterprises, received the Innovation award for its new green microenterprise and business lending program. In 2009, ACE launched Georgia Green Loans, which provides capital to businesses that provide an eco-friendly product or service or that wish to operate more sustainably. In its first year of operation, Georgia Green Loans provided $377,756 to 16 businesses including a green architect, a solar installation operation, and a manufacturer of organic cotton baby goods as well as alternative transport, composting, and water pollution prevention businesses. Environmental metrics gathered include reduction in energy usage, materials removed from the waste stream, water use reduction, toxins eliminated, and renewable energy generated. By boldly stating a commitment to sustainability, ACE has attracted new partnerships and funding including a competitive $700,000 grant from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, an SBA PRIME grant to create the national Academy of Green Micro-enterprise Development, and SBA Microloan Program financing to support a joint effort among ACE and two other lenders to provide green loans in every Georgia county.