Uplift America Fund
The Uplift America Fund was a partnership that leveraged federal resources, bank financing, and private grants to target much-needed capital to persistently low-wealth areas. It made low-interest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans and private grant support available to community lenders, particularly CDFIs, that fund in economically distressed areas of Appalachia, the Texas-Mexico border, the rural South, and Native American reservations.
These funds were used for community facilities projects like health clinics, schools, libraries, food banks, municipal buildings, and childcare centers. Uplift provided an unprecedented opportunity for experienced community lenders to deploy large amounts of capital to areas of greatest need while building their own capacity and scale of operations so they can remain enduring resources for rural communities.
This model leveraged existing infrastructure and expertise to tailor place-based solutions, and it served as a template for other federal partners to structure investment in underserved areas.
The Uplift America Fund was made possible by the following partners.
USDA Rural Development
Federal agency that works to improve the economy and quality of life in rural America through loans, grants, and loan guarantees to support essential services in these regions.
Bank of America
A leading provider of CDFI capital and Participating Guarantor in this USDA Community Facilities Program, Bank of America provides the required guarantees to allow CDFIs to qualify for $500 million in USDA loan capital.
The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
Private, non-operating family foundation helping to move people and places out of poverty across the South through grantmaking and investing to help bolster the capacity of development lenders in low-wealth areas.
Opportunity Finance Network
National network of CDFIs that strives to ensure low-income and other under-resourced communities have access to affordable, responsible financial products and services.
Unlocking Investment in Rural America
USDA and Prosperity Now produced a video highlighting the need for a collaboration like Uplift America and the unique role of CDFIs in improving rural communities.
How It Worked
Through the Community Facilities Relending Program, the USDA could provide up to $500 million in long-term, low-cost financing for CDFIs to facilitate much-needed infrastructure projects in communities suffering for decades from persistent poverty and underinvestment.
Uplift provided additional financing that allowed community lenders to access these funds. Private grants offered critical capacity building support like staffing, technical assistance or community planning, and net asset assistance to strengthen balance sheets and support borrowing of these resources. Financial guarantees from banks made community lenders more attractive to the USDA.
Miles City, Montana
MoFi (formerly Montana & Idaho CDC) provided a $250,000 Community Facilities loan to construct a new fire training station in Miles City, MT, to host more advanced trainings and to eliminate the need for firefighters to be sent statewide to train.
Orangeburg, South Carolina
The South Carolina Community Loan Fund committed a $3.8 million loan to OCSD 5 to cover the cost of acquiring real estate for the school’s new home. The 16,500-sq.ft. facility offers state-of-the-art technology, including learning labs where students – most from low-income families – can gain experience in a variety of medical disciplines and a computer lab offering students access to advanced equipment.
Central Lincoln County, Maine
Maine’s Central Lincoln County YMCA underwent a renovation and expansion with the help of a $2.46M Community Facilities loan from Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI). The loan supported upgrades including a new fitness center, teaching kitchen, and space to house two local nonprofits.
View annual reports providing insight on the Uplift America program.
Twenty-six community lenders serving rural areas across the country were awarded Community Facilities Relending Program loans. Twenty also received Uplift America Fund grants.
Uplift America Fund Grantees
- Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation
- National Council on Agricultural Life & Labor Research Fund, Inc.
- North Carolina Community Development Initiative
- Prestamos CDFI, LLC
- Rural Community Assistance Corporation
- Rural Electric Economic Development, Inc.
- South Carolina Community Loan Fund
- Southern Bancorp Community Partners