LISC Celebrates 30th Anniversary With Nat'l Symposium Examining Economic Outlook, Strategies for Revitalizing Distressed Communities

Mar 21, 2011, 12:37 ET from Local Initiatives Support Corporation

NEW YORK, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is celebrating three decades of helping revitalize low-income communities by convening hundreds of community development thought leaders in Washington, D.C., at this week's 30th Anniversary Leadership Symposium and Gala.

The March 23-25 event will feature dialogues among federal officials, mayors, economists, foundation executives and local nonprofit leaders discussing the state of communities across the country and successful strategies for helping them make progress in a difficult economy.  It is being live streamed at

Over the last 30 years, LISC has raised $11.1 billion for projects and programs that benefit disadvantaged places.  That capital has spurred the development of 277,000 affordable homes and 44 million square feet of commercial, community and educational space, ranging from schools and day care centers to small businesses, revitalized industrial sites, financial literacy and jobs programs, and community health centers.

"Our overarching goal when we made our first loan back in 1980 was to help residents and community-based organizations rebuild blighted neighborhoods so they could improve their quality of life," noted Michael Rubinger, LISC president and CEO.  "We knew then that it would be a long-term proposition, one that required nurturing and commitment as well as funding.  All of that is still true."

But LISC today is a vastly different organization than it was in 1980, Rubinger noted.  "Back then, we were largely testing the theory that locally driven redevelopment could succeed where large-scale, top-down government programs had failed," he explained.  "If LISC could arm residents with the right financial tools and technical know-how, they could revitalize their own neighborhoods.  And so we did.  Blighted buildings were returned to productive use as retail space and affordable housing.  We expanded our support to other development projects, like child care centers, charter schools, health clinics, and athletic fields. In some places, this building-by-building revitalization began to change the community's outlook.  The progress was significant and heartening."

But over the years something else became clear, Rubinger noted.  Investing in affordable housing and other physical redevelopment was not enough to ensure lasting change. That was the genesis for Building Sustainable Communities, LISC's comprehensive approach to broad-based community development that connects all the various aspects of community to each other. "From revitalized commercial corridors to early childhood education facilities, and Pop Warner football to green retrofit programs, it recognizes that a healthy community is much more than a place on the map," Rubinger said. "Building Sustainable Communities roots families, energizes economies and underpins some of the most fundamental aspects of quality of life."

LISC will feature multi-media presentations on how Building Sustainable Communities has succeeded in troubled places during its 30th Anniversary Symposium.  Other featured presenters during the event include Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services; Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council; Former Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania; mayors from Boston, St. Paul, Sacramento and Greenville, Miss.; former D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee; senior officials from top foundations, several leading economists; journalists and community leaders.  For more the full agenda, visit

About LISC

LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised $11.1 billion to build or rehab 277,000 affordable homes and develop 44 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. LISC support has leveraged nearly $33.9 billion in total development activity.  For more information, visit

Colleen Mulcahy, LISC/NEF Communications
312-342-8244 or

SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation