The Rockefeller Foundation has announced grants totaling $3.7 million in support of efforts to help drive responsible private investment in four cities.
Dallas, Oakland, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C., are the latest cities to receive funding through the foundation's Opportunity Zone Community Capacity Building Initiative, joining Atlanta and Newark, New Jersey. Launched in May 2019, the initiative is designed to help cities attract investment to Opportunity Zones — economically distressed neighborhoods that, thanks to a provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, qualify for tax incentives for community development projects.
Through the initiative, each city will receive $920,000 in grants and support services, including $400,000 to fund a chief opportunity zone officer position in the city's economic development authority. The foundation also is funding — through a previously announced $600,000 grant to Cities of Service — two AmeriCorps VISTA members in each city who will facilitate community involvement in reviewing proposals for Opportunity Zone projects and provide technical assistance aimed at helping connect the interests of investors with those of community residents.
The foundation also announced a $400,000 grant to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to help implement the initiative in all six cities. LISC will work with consulting firm BCT Partners to provide technical assistance to communities with respect to developing plans and attracting investments.
"Opportunity Zones have the potential to transform communities and deliver real economic benefits to millions of families living in distressed neighborhoods across the country," said Rockefeller Foundation president Rajiv J. Shah. "But that will only happen if organizations like ours make the right investments, bring together the right partners, and put community members — the people we seek to serve — at the center of the work. Our initiative will champion residents' interests by providing cities with the resources to shape investments so they create good-paying jobs, promote more affordable housing, and provide greater economic opportunity."
(Photo credit: LISC)