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Community Development (cont.)

Meet the Players

Who's addressing community development issues, and how?

Nonprofit organizations

Groups like New Door Ventures and Mercy Housing provide youth programs, job training, affordable housing programs, and other services to underserved populations (check out Nonprofit Management for more).


At the national level, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities brings the EPA, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the US Department of Transportation together to focus on creating sustainable, equitable cities. Numerous state and local agencies run programs for specific geographies.


Companies often take a strong interest in the communities where they operate, funding local organizations and encouraging volunteering. Others have highly-developed programs like IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge, and Gap Inc.’s This Way Ahead, a job training and leadership development program. (See Corporate Impact for more.)

    Social enterprises

    These organizations use a business framework or revenue model to support their activities, and usually address a specific issue such as job training for ex-offenders or girls’ primary education. Usually characterized by a start-up culture, these enterprises offer employees lots of room to grow, try new things and work on the ground.

    Financial institutions

    • Traditional banks, like Bank of America, often have significant community development initiatives.
    • Community banks like Industrial Bank are locally-owned and operated independent banks that focus on the needs of local businesses, communities, and families.
    • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) lie at the intersection of all sectors and provide financial services and opportunities to underserved, low income communities so they can achieve financial stability.

      Community Development Banks like Southern Bancorp, have missions to serve their communities’ economic development.

      Community Development Credit Unions, like Self Help, are run as member-owned cooperatives with missions aimed at helping low-wealth individuals.

      Community Development Loan Funds like Opportunity Fund offer financial lending and technical services for small businesses, community real estate ventures, and individuals.

      Community Development Venture Capital Funds like Pacific Community Ventures provide equity capital to build, strengthen, and grow businesses that benefit lower income individuals and communities.

        Options within the Field

        Workforce Development creates new job opportunities for historically under-resourced communities and prepares individuals to become part of the workforce.

        • Employment Readiness
        • Youth Programs

        Economic Development creates institutions, solutions, and access to financial resources, capital, and programs so low-income individuals and communities can reach financial stability.

        • Access to Capital
        • Affordable Housing
        • Financial Empowerment
        • Small Business Development

        Civic Development improves and revitalizes historically marginalized communities by ensuring they have access to basic infrastructure and have an active citizen population.

        • Basic Infrastructure Development
        • Civic Engagement
        • Community Organizing and Advocacy

        Keep Exploring

        Corporate Impact
        Environmental Sustainability & Natural Resources
        View All Overviews



        Get Started
        • Volunteering is a good way to get a sense of the needs, challenges, and barriers in the community while also making a difference. Neighborhood councils, nonprofits, and community organizing and advocacy groups are all great places to get to know the field.
        • Internships & Fellowships will give you on-the-ground experience. The US Department of Treasury, for example, offers a CDFI Fund Internship Program. REDF’s Farber Fellows program offers MBAs an opportunity to help a community development social enterprise.
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