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Announcing the Communities Thrive Challenge Grantees

Rachel Korberg - Former Associate Director, Economic Equity Opportunity
Janie Lorber — Manager for Special Projects, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Today, we are thrilled to share the names of the 10 organizations that will each receive a $1 million grant as part of the Communities Thrive Challenge, a joint funding opportunity from The Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Each organization is not only making a tremendous impact in its community but also offering insight into how others might address some of the biggest challenges facing our country. Their work sheds light on crucial questions, such as:

  • How might places that have fallen on difficult economic times reinvent their economies and create more opportunity for all?
  • How might local investors use their dollars to not only generate returns but also spur good jobs for low-income workers?
  • How might state and local governments ensure that all of their residents who are eligible for public benefits actually receive them?

Launched in April of 2018, the Communities Thrive Challenge promised $1 million grants to organizations with high-impact, potentially scalable, and community-driven approaches to tackling systemic barriers to economic opportunity in the United States. The Challenge recognizes that, for every person who may be enjoying the benefits of a strong U.S. economy, there are as many who are locked out and struggling to just get by.

The grantees are working on issues from economic revitalization to financial security, and they draw on tools from policy to technology and employer partnerships.

When Rockefeller and CZI designed this Challenge, one of the most important values that we shared was including new voices and new leadership – especially from the parts of the country that are too often underinvested in, such as small and mid-sized cities in the South and Midwest, as well as rural areas.

We also committed to making funding decisions that were informed by those closest to the work. One effective tool that we used to do this was peer review — every applicant was asked to review and score five other applications. Many applicants, including those who did not advance to the final 10, really valued this and have reached out to tell us about the thought-provoking feedback that they received or the new partnership ideas the review spurred.

Right from the start, enthusiasm for Communities Thrive was inspiring. When the application deadline closed, we had received more than 1,800 applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, plus Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The grantees are:

The grantees are working on issues from economic revitalization to financial security, and they draw on tools from policy to technology and employer partnerships. Here are just a handful of the reasons some of these organizations stood out to us:

The Industrial Commons is reimagining industrial jobs in Western North Carolina, a region that has seen its manufacturing sector decline significantly in recent years. By partnering with both workers and businesses to help workers take equity stakes in their companies or to introduce worker committees within manufacturing firms, the Industrial Commons is developing win-win solutions and offering a new model for how to collaboratively revitalize places that have fallen on challenging times.

Benefits Data Trust connects people who are eligible for public benefits, such as health insurance or food assistance, with those benefits. Across the U.S., an estimated 60% of the people who are eligible for benefits never actually receive them. Benefits Data Trust is closing this gap through blending close, community and government partnerships with an innovative tech platform.

South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF) provides loans and technical assistance to projects that provide affordable housing, increase access to food and essential services, attract businesses, employ community members, and stimulate economic activity in low-income areas. With a mission to provide equitable access to capital, SCCLF is many of its client’s first institutional lender and provides the critical financing needed to make a project viable.

View the Communities Thrive Challenge grantee announcement press release here. Learn more about the Communities Thrive Challenge semi-finalists, finalists, and grantees and check out a public, searchable database with information from all of the eligible applications.

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