40 non-profits win $500,000 each from Citi Foundation for creating community progress

Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) is the 501-c-3 nonprofit organization that built and now runs THEARC and THEARC Theater. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for children and adults who reside east of the Anacostia River by providing leadership, management and financial oversight of the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC).

Through a collaboration of partner organizations, THEARC provides access to high quality educational, health, cultural, recreation, and social service programs. By providing these programs, BBAR and its partners aim to contribute to the revitalization of this community in southeastern Washington, DC.

On April 26, 2018, The Citi Foundation announced that Building Bridges Across the River and 39 other nonprofit organizations had been selected as recipients of the 2018 Community Progress Makers Fund.

The $20 million grant initiative supports visionary nonprofit organizations to help them roll out new approaches to long-standing urban economic challenges in six U.S. cities – Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C. Each Community Progress Maker will receive $500,000 in core operating support and access to technical assistance and a learning community.

We launched this program in 2015 as our version of ‘venture philanthropy’ – a chance to invest in the vision and mission of these organizations who are helping positively transform their communities,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “We’re pleased with the results from our inaugural Community Progress Makers and are looking forward to implementing the lessons we’ve learned with this next, impressive group of community leaders as they scale, innovate and drive impact.

In 2016-2017, the inaugural cohort of Community Progress Makers helped more than 14,700 low-income people secure financial assets; built over 10,500 affordable housing units; strengthened more than 1,100 small businesses; and connected 1,800 young people to jobs in their communities.

It will take all of us working together – across sectors and levels of government – to expand access to prosperity,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Through the Community Progress Makers Fund, the Citi Foundation is deepening the capacity of community-based organizations to give more residents and neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. and across the nation a fair shot.

We are honored to have been selected as a Community Progress Maker and to join leading organizations working to increase economic opportunity for low-income residents,” said Davon Russell, President of WHEDco in New York City. “This core operating support from the Citi Foundation is exceptional because it provides us the flexibility to really deepen our work; it demonstrates trust in our leadership and our knowledge of the people we serve. I believe it will be transformative for WHEDco.

As a returning Community Progress Maker, I can speak firsthand about the value of being in a cohort of nonprofits interested in innovation and community impact. The Citi Foundation’s support makes this possible while also giving us the opportunity to pilot new approaches and invest in the capacity of our staff,” said Anne Evens, Chief Executive Officer of Elevate Energy in Chicago. “We look forward to building on our impactful first two years and are so grateful to be selected again.

As part of the Community Progress Makers Fund, WHEDco will expand support of small businesses and low-income residents in the South Bronx. Elevate Energy will be piloting five different community solar project models over the next two years that will increase energy efficiency benefits for 2,500 families in Chicago. Organizations were selected through a competitive open Request for Applications (RFA) process. Over 400 nonprofit organizations applied.

Here is the full list of Community Progress Makers:


  • Cara
  • Chicago Commons
  • Elevate Energy
  • Greater Southwest Development Corporation
  • North Lawndale Employment Network

Los Angeles

  • East LA Community Corporation
  • Homeboy Industries
  • Koreatown Youth & Community Center
  • LISC Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation
  • Los Angeles LGBT Center
  • United Way of Greater Los Angeles


  • Catalyst Miami
  • Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF)
  • The Miami Foundation
  • United Way of Miami-Dade
  • Urban League of Broward County

New York City

  • Brooklyn Workforce Innovations
  • Center for NYC Neighborhoods
  • Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation
  • Green City Force
  • Hot Bread Kitchen
  • Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF)
  • Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners
  • Start Small Think Big
  • The HOPE Program
  • The POINT Community Development Corporation
  • WHEDco

San Francisco Bay Area

  • Enterprise Community Partners Northern CA
  • Jewish Vocational Service
  • Main Street Launch
  • Pacific Community Ventures
  • San Francisco Housing Development Corporation (SFHDC)
  • Social Finance

Washington, DC

Photo (courtesy of THEARC) shows students from The Washington Ballet performing “Thriller” at THEARC Theater.

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