Forging resilient, inclusive communities: A Q&A with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation

LISC-supported neighborhood of Mantua, West Philadelphia, 2017 (Photo credit: Annie O'Neill)

26 May 2021

At a recent virtual employee town hall, David Agnew, Head of Government Affairs for Macquarie in the Americas led a fireside chat with current Board member and former CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Maurice A. Jones. 

LISC is a recent grant recipient of both Macquarie’s COVID-19 donation fund and its Racial Equity Fund. Maurice spoke about how the organization is utilizing this funding to improve outcomes for underserved communities in the United States.

David also had the opportunity to speak with LISC’s Interim Chief Executive Officer Lisa L. Glover about the organization’s work and its future impact plans. Below are excerpts from these discussions.

David: We are honored to have LISC speak with Macquarie staff to learn more about the organization and the work you are doing to address racial inequity in this country. Would you be able to tell us more about LISC and its mission?

Maurice: LISC is the largest community development financial institution in the United States, providing loans, grants, technical assistance and equity that it raises largely through tax credits, to invest in low-wealth communities that are largely inhabited by Black and Brown individuals. I like to say that LISC is in the opportunity business. It catalyzes opportunity for people, for places, for organizations that are not sufficiently served right now in the US by our mainstream institutions, particularly our mainstream financial institutions. LISC finances affordable housing, small business growth and workforce development and childcare centers. Those things that every community needs to thrive. The market doesn’t work well for everyone equally.

David: LISC received grants from the Macquarie COVID-19 donation fund grant and the Racial Equity Fund. How did COVID-19 impact LISC’s ability to serve the communities you work with and how did the Macquarie COVID-19 donation fund grant support that work?

Maurice: Well first, we had three events of pandemic proportions in 2020. We had a health pandemic that had a disproportionate impact on people of color and organizations led by people of color. We had a recession that had the same disproportionate impact on the same people. And we had a racial reckoning and so, LISC wanted to be responsive to that. We formed a rapid relief fund for COVID-19 to use the money to concentrate on small businesses largely led by people of color and those in rural areas and to support the ecosystem around them. Macquarie provided us with a $US1.5 million grant to do that work. We allocated this money to small businesses in New York City and Philadelphia as well as small business landlords in Houston where we were trying to help them in a way that reduced the need to evict anyone.

David: And what are you focusing on with the Racial Equity Fund grant?

Maurice: We appreciate Macquarie’s commitment to helping be a part of the racial equity solution in this country. This $US400,000 grant is allowing us to support safety and justice alliances and neighborhood revitalization projects in Jacksonville and Philadelphia, where I know you have a significant number of employees. This project will advance racial equity by improving neighborhood safety, increasing opportunity, and strengthening community-law enforcement relationships in specific Jacksonville and Philadelphia neighborhoods where there is over-policing.

David: That’s great to hear, but I know there is a lot more work to be done. Is this work a part of Project 10X? Can you provide more information about this work and how the private sector can partner with organizations like LISC in the movement toward racial equity?

Maurice: Project 10X is aimed at addressing the health, wealth and opportunity gaps in this country by committing to rese the inequalities that keep tens of millions of Black Americans from sharing in our country’s prosperity and realizing their personal potential. This effort identifies the following current realities:

  • the average White family’s net wealth is at least 10x that of the average Black family
  • there is at least a 10-year gap in average life expectancy between Black and White people in many American cities. 

Project 10X will invest in community organizations, businesses and developers working in rural and urban communities across the country with scalable solutions. We know we can’t achieve this overnight, so have committed to this initiative for 10 years. We can’t do this alone. We need partners to help us provide opportunities for home ownership, build credit and savings, and strengthen financial institutions led by BIPOC1 communities, invest in community wellness, digital access, education and justice reform and support quality jobs with good wages and benefits. All of which to help increase intergenerational wealth.

Never in my lifetime have I seen the sense of urgency – the fierce urgency of now – amongst people and organizations to do something about these challenges.”

– Maurice A. Jones, LISC Board Member

It is through supporting targeted, strategic initiatives that the private sector and institutional groups in positions of power like our partnership with Macquarie that we can create impact and help address racial inequity in this country.

David: Lisa, as the new Interim CEO of LISC, what are you hoping to achieve?

Lisa:  Last year was a time of extraordinary challenge for our communities, but also of extraordinary growth and dynamism within the organization. In 2020 alone, LISC invested a record $US2 billion to support small businesses and nonprofit partners, build affordable housing and community spaces, and finance other activity that helped residents and communities meet the challenges of a very difficult year. That growth has left LISC well positioned to go deeper in our core work, to continue to innovate and to maximize the impact we have in our communities.

My goal is to keep the forward momentum going. Our mission remains the same: to forge resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity. We have a lot on our plates at LISC, but right now that is a good problem to have. We have the resources. Now, we put those resources to work in communities across the country.

A major first step of Project 10X was launching the Black Economic Development Fund to invest in Black-owned financial institutions and businesses. Likewise, our COVID-19 relief efforts have focused on small businesses that are not well-served by traditional channels, especially those led by minorities.

We are launching into new work with federal, state and local governments to deliver emergency rent assistance to thousands of families. The need is urgent, and I see LISC playing a huge role in this area. We will drive new production and preservation of affordable rental housing—which was already in short supply before the pandemic.

And we will intensify our policy leadership to support rent moratoriums, rental assistance and other policy levers that can help address the crisis.

We will also be looking at making housing more equitable. One of the core elements of Project 10X is supporting ways to increase Black wealth through affordable homeownership. We’re looking at everything from appraisal processes that have historically devalued Black-owned homes to connecting Black homeowners with home repair and refinancing programs.

These are just of few examples of what will be ongoing priorities for the organization.

David: How can our employees and other individuals interested in economic inclusion get involved with LISC?

Lisa: Learn about LISC and what we do. We have 37 local offices and rural programs that works in hundreds of counties across America. We’ve invested in all 50 states. Our mission remains as critical today as it was 40 years ago when LISC was founded.  We recognize that widespread economic well-being and economic growth are interdependent. Long-standing disparities regarding race, class, gender and geography negatively affect our communities and country. This is one reason why so many corporations have launched or expanded impact investing programs focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. The cost of entrenched inequality is simply too high.

We recognize that widespread economic well-being and economic growth are interdependent. Long-standing disparities regarding race, class, gender and geography negatively affect our communities and country. This is one reason why so many corporations have launched or expanded impact investing programs focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

– Lisa Glover, Interim President and CEO of LISC

There are whole communities that never recovered from the last recession more than a decade ago, and they include many of the same people and places affected most deeply by loss in 2020. They require large-scale, long-term commitments of capital in order to build stability and resilience. For our country, this is an economic imperative, as well as a moral one. It will require ambitious public policies, private investment strategies and program support and individuals supporting it in order to succeed.

Furthermore, one tangible way that employees and corporations can help support economic mobility and growth is by sharing their expertise around business concepts and issues that our small business owners don't otherwise have the opportunity to access. With our Macquarie partnership, in May 2021, we held the LISC Relaunch Academy, which brought together over 50 small business owners with Macquarie employees to discuss: 'What is a P&L Statement and Why You Need One?' and 'Leveraging Social Media to Reach More Customers'. In addition to providing group sessions on topics of importance to small business owners, the opportunity was provided for 1:1 consultative sessions to dive deeper into the topics discussed.

David: In addition to 10X, what are LISC’s go-forward priorities?

Lisa: For one, we will continue to work with partners to support small businesses and economic development efforts, especially in BIPOC communities, to help folks survive and recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

We will also keep emphasizing the imperative of investing in rural America, as we are doing through our Rural Promise initiative to create 20% of our impact in rural places.

We will continue building the capacity of our on-the-ground community partners, so they can be effective resources for their communities during the COVID-19 recovery period and beyond.

And we will ramp up investment and programming in community safety and justice efforts, especially in light of ongoing police violence against Black Americans, and the uptick in crime in many communities since the onset of the pandemic.

David: We are so happy to have found one another and look forward to an impactful partnership.

Kelly Street Garden, a project of LISC's partner, Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Bronx, NY, 2016 (Photo credit: Ricky Flores)

LISC highlighted Macquarie as its Donor of the Month in April 2021

To read the spotlight article, visit the LISC website.


Lisa Glover biography

Lisa L. Glover is the interim President & CEO of LISC. She is a former executive vice president at U.S. Bank, retiring in March, 2020. In her 34 years at U.S. Bank, Glover led numerous enterprise efforts and has extensive banking experience. She held a variety of line operational roles, including management positions in commercial and consumer lending, contact center operations, and continuous improvement. Glover also held key leadership positions in internal audit, corporate compliance and risk, serving as the Chief Risk Officer for consumer banking. She served as the Director of Community Affairs for seven years, leading the Bank’s CRA, environmental, multicultural and corporate citizenship efforts. She is a certified risk professional, a chartered bank auditor and a certified internal auditor. Glover has a BBA from Iowa State University in Corporate Finance and a Masters of Library and Information Sciences from University of Wisconsin.

Maurice Jones biography

Maurice A. Jones was appointed CEO of OneTen in March of 2021. OneTen is a coalition of leading chief executives and their companies who are coming together to upskill, hire and promote one million Black Americans over the next 10 years who do not yet have a four-year degree into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. Prior to joining OneTen, Maurice was the President of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the country's largest organizations supporting projects to revitalize communities and catalyze economic opportunity for residents.

During his time at LISC, Maurice led the company’s effort to expand its footprint into the southern part of the country. He grew the company’s annual investment from a billion dollars to over two billion dollars. He also increased the economic development investments of LISC throughout the country, including launching a subsidiary company dedicated to small business lending. During his tenure, LISC diversified its partnerships with multiple industries, including healthcare, technology, sports, retail and advanced manufacturing.

He previously served as Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia where his primary job was to utilize Virginia’s assets to solidify its position as the preeminent place to live, work and conduct business.

Maurice also served as Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from April 2012 through January 2014. As the second most senior official at HUD, Maurice managed the Department's day-to-day operations, the annual operating budget of $40 billion and the agency's 8,900 employees.

Before his appointment at HUD, Maurice was President of Pilot Media, the largest print and digital organization in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  He joined Landmark Media Enterprises, owner of Pilot Media, in 2005, serving as Vice President of the Landmark Publishing Group. In 2006, he became the Vice President and General Manager of Pilot Media, and in 2008 he became President and Publisher of The Virginian-Pilot.

Maurice was also the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services and Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner. Other positions include:  Special Assistant to the General Counsel at the U.S. Treasury Department, Legal Counsel to the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and Director of the Fund during the Clinton Administration, Associate Attorney at Hunton & Williams in Richmond, Virginia, and Partner at Venture Philanthropy Partners.

Maurice received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Hampden-Sydney College and attended Oxford University in England on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he received a Master of Philosophy in International Relations.  He later received a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia.

1. BIPOC is an acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.