Let’s Start Rowing

Photo taken before COVID-19 restrictions

“Start meetings like this: We know what’s been done and we want to help fix it.”

–Sadiqa Reynolds, President and CEO of Louisville Urban League

Phew, 2020.  It has been a ride. For families, the world and our beloved Louisville. We are making our way through a pandemic, its economic and health impacts. Many of us are working on increased understanding and taking meaningful action on 400 years of racial injustice. The evidence, data, and analysis of economic racism in America is well documented by people much smarter than myself. And so I write with the hope that we (dear reader and I) can start at “we know what’s been done and we want to help fix it.” We know our fund holders – generous individuals and institutions who partner with us to make lasting impact – are also searching for meaningful action.

The Community Foundation is no different as we reflect as an organization on our authentic involvement in this moment. While we have long held values of equity and inclusion and made important contributions to address the underlying conditions that fuel deep racial and economic inequity in our city, the reality is – it’s not enough.

Photo taken before COVID-19 restrictions

So here’s the news we humbly share:  2020 is the year that we dedicate our entire CFL Impact Capital fund to equitable economic development – investing in affordable housing,  Black-owned and other underserved small businesses and entrepreneurs, and community facilities in underinvested neighborhoods. Our board of directors unanimously approved this focus in March and now we are kicking off that commitment by extending a $500,000 loan to LHOME – Louisville’s intentionally inclusive lender. LHOME, which stands for Louisville Housing and Opportunities Micro-Enterprise Community Development Loan Fund, Inc., is a mission-driven nonprofit financial institution that provides affordable loan products and financial coaching services to low-income small business owners, renters, and homeowners in Louisville, KY.  LHOME is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), certified by the U.S. Treasury that seeks to help individuals build wealth for themselves and their families. This loan will make funds available to increase financial access and stability for LHOME clients who are predominantly African American living and/or working in Louisville’s South and West End, neighborhoods with long histories of redlining and scarce affordable accessible lending.

This loan to LHOME will be our largest local impact investment to date.  And it will not be the last.

The Foundation has been making loans through CFL Impact Capital for over six years. These loans are invested in high-impact projects that create positive social impact alongside financial returns. Unlike grants, CFL Impact Capital loans are intended to be repaid to the Foundation and can be “recycled” back into the community through additional loans or grants.  By lending funds with favorable terms for important work, CFL Impact Capital is a way to extend impact beyond grants.

Our vision is a community where people and place thrive. But not all people and not all places in our community are thriving. As a place-based foundation, we are looking to deploy every tool in our philanthropic toolbox for a more equitable Louisville.  Loans through CFL Impact Capital are a unique way to move capital where it is needed most. Lending a portion of your tax deductible philanthropic funds in a way that increases ownership and opportunity for neighbors while earning a social and financial return, is something you can only do locally with the Community Foundation of Louisville.

We invite you to join us today by participating in this LHOME loan. Donors may participate with a minimum of $10,000. If you’re not yet a Community Foundation donor, you may still participate in this loan.

We stand ready to answer questions and partner as, together, we work towards a community where ALL people and places thrive.


Mary Grissom

p.s. For those interested in continuing education on why intentionally inclusive lending is needed, check out these resources:

The Devaluation of Assets in Black Neighborhoods

Examining the Black-White Wealth Gap

A Forgotten History of How the US Government Segregated America

Minority-Owned Small Businesses Struggle to Gain Access to PPP Loan Money