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New Public-Private Partnership Leverages $50M to Build Rural Arkansas Communities

WRF Partners with Philanthropic Organizations, USDA and
Community Development Institutions in Uplift America Initiative

 

BEREA, Ky. (Oct. 6, 2016) – The US Department of Agriculture announced today over $400 million in new Community Facilities loans for rural areas. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation granted $500,000 to leverage close to $50 million of Community Facilities funds for Arkansas. The USDA is providing the Communities Facilities loans through the Uplift America Initiative, a public-private partnership that required contributions from local foundations.

“The board of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation sees this as an opportunity to multiply the impact of our resources in a way that may truly transform the infrastructure of many rural communities in our state,” said WRF president and CEO Dr. Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury. “We get a ten-fold return on this investment, and rural communities in Arkansas will get new public facilities such as fire stations, hospitals and libraries. 

This unprecedented partnership is made possible by long-term, low-interest loans made by the USDA to eligible “re-lenders” in Arkansas such as Hope Credit Union and Southern Bancorp Community Partners. Hope and Southern will receive grants from the Uplift America Fund to help cover the cost of making loans to communities. WRF and six other foundations contributed to the  Fund, which totals $22 million. Banks will re-lend funds to develop or refinance facilities in low-income rural Arkansas communities.

“Strengthening our most vulnerable communities is at the heart of the mission of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation,” said West-Scantlebury. “This initiative will transform rural communities and residents’ lives.”

Community Facilities loans are used to build, acquire, maintain or renovate essential community facilities as well as to finance services like education, health care and infrastructure. Hope and Southern are among the 25 community development organizations to receive loans from the Fund. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation will manage the Fund and report on what communities are accomplishing and learning.

“We are excited to have found another strategy to attract federal resources to our state, “ said Vicki Saviers, WRF Board Chair. “We are looking ahead five and ten years down the road to when we will see how these long-term, low-cost loans will be used to build schools, health centers, and the like and hopefully spur investment in areas of our state that has experienced decades of disinvestment.”

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About Uplift America

Uplift America is a partnership of government agencies, philanthropic organizations, and finance institutions created to address poverty in rural America by directing up to $500 million in loan capital toward creating needed community services and strengthening community-based lenders across the US. USDA has made an unprecedented change in the Community Facilities Loan Program that permits community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to participate in this program that provides low-cost capital for hospitals, schools, libraries, broadband, and other community infrastructure.

About the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

For more than 40 years, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has helped to build and sustain the organizations that serve and strengthen Arkansas. Through grantmaking and strategic partnerships, we are working hard to help close the economic and educational gaps that leave too many Arkansas families in persistent poverty. www.wrfoundation.org

Contact

Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, President & CEO, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

501-376-6854

swest@wrfoundation.org