2011 Awardees

Coastal Enterprises Inc.

$5.5 Million Awardee

For more than three decades, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., (CEI) has pioneered new ways to create economic opportunity in rural communities. Founded in 1977, CEI was Maine’s first local development company. In its early years, the organization focused on mobilizing capital to create jobs in the state’s natural resources industries, such as fishing, farming, and forestry. Over time, however, it has expanded to serve the rest of New England and beyond, and has diversified its lending to include manufacturing enterprises, affordable housing projects, and community facilities. 

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The Progress Fund

$2.75 Million Awardee

For more than 60 years, the economy of southwestern Pennsylvania has struggled. “We lost our basic industry—steel and the businesses it supported,” says David Kahley, the President and CEO of The Progress Fund. “Since the end of World War II, it’s been more bust than boom. Even in good times, we don’t catch up.” The Progress Fund was established in 1997 to help put an end to the bust. The organization works to create economic opportunity throughout a 39-county region that includes western Maryland, West Virginia, and eastern Ohio, as well as southwestern and northern Pennsylvania. And while its basic strategy—providing loans and technical assistance to underserved entrepreneurs—is typical of many CDFIs, its highly focused approach to lending is not. 

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Alternatives Federal Credit Union

$25,000 Awardee – Advocacy

The Advocacy award recognizes Ithaca, NY-based Alternatives Federal Credit Union for its policy and advocacy leadership on Living Wages. Alternatives’ leadership and advocacy on the Living Wage began at the local level and has grown into a national movement. In 1994, the credit union undertook a study of what it costs to live in Tompkins County, NY. Alternatives publicly announced the study, making the distinction between a living wage and the official minimum wage and their commitment to paying a living wage to all employees. Based on Alternatives’ study, Tompkins County and City of Ithaca governments voted that organizations receiving their funding must meet Living Wage guidelines. Private employers in and outside Ithaca have adopted a living wage, and people in other cities have used Alternatives’ study as a model for their own efforts to improve the lives of the working poor. In 2009, Alternatives conducted another Living Wage study which indicated that at least 2,500 workers, more than 5% of the County’s workforce, would see an increase in pay as a result of its work.

Neighborhood Development Center

$25,000 Awardee – Community Impact

St. Paul, Minnesota-based Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) is the recipient of the Community Impact award for achieving a high volume of community impact, tracking and analyzing this impact, and using the information to improve its programs. NDC seeks to empower emerging entrepreneurs with business knowledge and access to opportunity to develop businesses that allow them to move out of poverty, become self-sufficient, and develop and transform their own neighborhoods. In 2009 and 2010, NDC provided services to more than 1,700 individuals. A recent evaluation of its programs found that during that time: NDC-trained entrepreneurs started 80 new businesses and created 250 new jobs; 56% of NDC–assisted businesses reported increasing revenues by an average of $120,000 a year, up from $48,000 a year in 2007; 41% of NDC-assisted businesses now occupy a building that was formerly vacant, up from 32% in 2007; NDC—assisted businesses now return more than $68 million annually—in the form of rents, taxes, and other businesses expenses—to the Twin Cities up from $29 million in 2007.

Charter School Development Corporation

$25,000 Awardee – Financing

Charter School Development Corporation (CSDC), a Hanover, MD-based CDFI, was selected to receive the Financing award for accessing capital markets in innovative ways that establish replicable models for acquiring affordable capital in difficult economic times. CSDC is an $85 million CDFI that provides credit enhancement lending and uses tax credits in innovative ways to help charter schools procure capital commitments for their facilities. CSDC focuses on financing new and early-stage schools with less than three years’ operating history. It has invested $42 million to leverage over $560 million in financing for 217 schools in 24 states with a default rate of less than 1.8%. These investments have financed 25,000 new student seats and 3.8 million square feet of facilities. In 2010, CSDC entered into a strategic alliance with Entertainment Properties Trust (EPT), a real estate investment trust that will invest up to $100 million with CSDC for charter schools.

Genesis Community Loan Fund

$25,000 Awardee – Innovation

Genesis Community Loan Fund (Genesis Fund), based in Damariscotta, Maine, received the Innovation award for its work with island communities in Maine. In 2004, the Genesis Fund launched a program to support development on the 14 Maine islands that sustain year-round communities. For generations, these communities have been home to Maine’s fishing and lobstering industries, but lacked affordable housing. Genesis Fund’s work resulted in new housing and led the island organizations to work together on a collective approach to securing resources to help sustain their communities. In 2010, the Genesis Fund realized that a significant new source of capital was needed for the islands to build scale in their affordable housing efforts. The Genesis Fund encouraged island communities to work with the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition—of which the Genesis Fund Executive Director was chair—to advocate for and pass the largest affordable housing bond in the state’s history. The legislation authorized up to $50 million in bonds, of which $2 million was allocated to support the islands.