Everyone has dreams for themselves and their families, but not everyone has the same opportunities to make these dreams come true. Laws, social practices, and their legacy have caused some communities to have fewer opportunities than others for jobs, education, lending, and housing. Racial disparities in community conditions and in health, in particular, persist across the United States. But since people created the policies and practices that shape these conditions, we can work together to end them.
Community development is the work of building neighborhood assets to create healthy places that help residents reach their best health and wellbeing—including affordable housing, community facilities for early childhood and health services, local businesses and cultural institutions, and parks and open spaces. The community development sector mobilizes and invests more than $200 billion in public and private resources to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods that historically have been excluded from opportunity.
Through its grants and impact investments, RWJF seeks to ensure that community development capital flows to the places that have long been neglected by investment, and that financing and development decisions center the priorities and solutions of local residents and safeguard against any unintended consequences, such as displacement. This will help make it possible for everyone to achieve their best health and wellbeing.
The community development finance system (infographic)—made up of mission-driven lenders (infographic) that include banks, credit unions, loan funds, and municipal finance agencies, among others—is the main driver of capital for communities that historically have experienced a lack of investment, especially communities of color and those with low incomes.