On May 4, 2020, the State Farm insurance company announced that it is expanding its 20-year relationship with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit community investment organization, with new funding to boost economic opportunity by revitalizing vulnerable communities.
The commitment includes a $4 million national grant to LISC to expand employment, revitalize commercial corridors, promote health and enhance community safety in 12 cities over the next two years.
In addition, State Farm has set up a $10 million loan pool with LISC focused on its home state of Illinois. It will specifically address the needs of small businesses and community nonprofits hit hard by COVID-19 in Central Illinois communities like Peoria, Bloomington and Springfield, as well as Chicago.
“This year marks our 20-year anniversary of investing in LISC—an organization vital to connecting resources to communities in need,” said Annette Martinez, senior vice president for State Farm. “We know that together, we are creating economic opportunities to help communities grow and prosper—and providing relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations struggling due to COVID-19.”
The $10 million pool, announced in late April, will offer low-cost loans of up to $250,000, with LISC’s local program staff in Central Illinois and Chicago connecting with businesses and nonprofits to deploy capital. The loans are one piece of the larger State Farm COVID-19 relief strategy, which includes $2 billion in premium rebates to customers.
At the same time, the new grant from State Farm will fuel national outreach strategies, including support for staffing and tools focused on addressing the root causes of poor health in communities. Grant funds will further advance long-term community investment programs in 12 metro areas, with a particular focus on:
- Financial Opportunity Centers, which provide a range of integrated services to help people build financial stability—from job training and placement to financial coaching and income support;
- Commercial corridor revitalization and anti-displacement strategies in gentrifying communities, to catalyze economic vitality that benefits local residents; and
- Community health and safety programs, such as “green” strategies for affordable housing and recreation programs that engage at-risk youth.
Implementation will vary to meet local needs. For example, the new State Farm grant will seed the opening of a new Financial Opportunity Center in Atlanta, so LISC can support financial and employment services for hundreds of residents. In Indianapolis, it will fuel a program that revitalizes underutilized industrial sites, creating jobs and economic vibrancy.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it will advance public safety strategies that connect community members, businesses and law enforcement in common efforts, while also fueling “creative placemaking” activities to reduce crime. And, in Phoenix, it will support transit-oriented development plans that revitalize businesses in often-overlooked communities.
In addition to these four cities, the State Farm grant will support similar local efforts in the Bay Area (Oakland/San Francisco), Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Peoria, Ill., Philadelphia, and Tacoma, Wash.
“Even before the global health crisis, State Farm had long supported strategies to build stronger, more inclusive local economies where families and businesses could thrive,” said Maurice A. Jones, LISC’s president and CEO.
“Now, as we all face uncertain days ahead, State Farm has once again stepped up to help, both responding to the immediate crisis and continuing to support long-term opportunities for stability, opportunity and growth. We are enormously grateful for their steadfast support,” he added.
Over the last 20 years, State Farm has invested $149 million in LISC’s community development programs, leveraging more than $11 billion to build or rehabilitate 53,000 affordable homes, create more than 20 million square feet of retail, community, and educational space, and serve nearly 215,000 people through income- and wealth-building initiatives.
With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $22 billion to build or rehab more than 419,000 affordable homes and apartments and develop 70.3 million square feet of retail, community and educational space.