On October 13th, 500 community development professionals, civic leaders, CCLF borrowers, supporters and investors gathered to celebrate 25 years of helping create communities where people thrive. The event highlighted CCLF’s diverse range of customers in a variety of ways. It took place at the Stony Island Arts Bank, a CCLF customer site. The Arts Bank turned an abandoned bank that had been vacant for 30 years into a needed arts and culture space in Chicago’s South Shore community. Food and drinks vendors at the celebration were also CCLF customers or tenants of CCLF customers, including Bronzeville Jerk Shack, Turkey Chop, Growing Home, The Plant, Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken and Café Mustache. Finally, the night concluded with honoring four of CCLF’s borrowers with the Fannie Lou Hamer Award for Grassroots Community Development.
Leah Hope from ABC 7 News served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. She welcomed the crowd and told the 25 year story of CCLF, which was started by social investment advocates with a pool of capital from local individual investors as well as an investment of $200,000 from the Wieboldt Foundation to help communities throughout Chicagoland that had been divested and overlooked. “Here we are today celebrating this vision of those original founders and applauding the outstanding work being done by CCLF customers. The difference is that CCLF now has nearly $70 million in assets for addressing the emerging needs of low- to moderate-income neighborhoods,” lauded Hope. She thanked the founders and introduced the socially motivated dance ensemble Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, which performed a moving piece that captured the audience.
Matt Reilein, the Chair of CCLF’s Board, took the stage next. He praised the multifaceted success of CCLF’s 25 years. “CCLF has provided over $150 million in financing to 217 unique borrowers. CCLF has leveraged an additional $1.1 billion and that has built or preserved 7,703 housing units and created or retained 2,813 jobs.” He noted CCLF could not do this without supporters like the 25th Anniversary Celebration lead sponsor JPMorgan Chase. Charlie Corrigan, Vice President of Global Philanthropy of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, greeted the crowd and announced a $3.49 million PRO Neighborhood’s grant being awarded to CCLF to revitalize low-income neighborhoods through commercial real estate (CRE) investment. CCLF President, Calvin Holmes, responded with great appreciation to JPMorgan Chase and unveiled CCLF’s new Activate Retail brand that will be launched as part of CCLF’s larger CRE effort.
Next 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston greeted the crowd. She welcomed all to her ward and praised CCLF for the work they’ve done to put capital back into the 5th Ward and communities across Chicagoland. Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp, City Treasurer Kurt Summers and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (via video message) also congratulated CCLF on 25 years of supporting individuals, families and communities across Chicago.
Holmes took the stage again to thank the attendees for their continued support. He thanked all the sponsors of CCLF’s celebration and acknowledged the founders and key stakeholders. He also debuted CCLF’s new promotional video, “Missing Pieces,” which was produced by its borrower BulletProof Films.
Holmes and Reilein also announced the Fannie Lou Hamer Award Winners for 2016. The winners were as follows:
- Commercial Real Estate: Leon Walker (DL3 Realty, LP) for Englewood Square
- Social Enterprise: Harry Rhodes (Growing Home) for Wood/Honore Street Farms
- Housing: Rick Guzman (Emmanuel House) for Emmanuel House
- Community Facility: Theaster Gates (Rebuild Foundation) for Stony Island Arts Bank
Rick Guzman, on winning the award, “Receiving the Fannie Lou Hamer award was an amazing honor and an affirmation of Emmanuel House’s core belief that every person has something to contribute–and also that many of the solutions to long-standing community challenges can often be found by leveraging unrecognized assets that already exist in our communities. CCLF gets that and dedicates themselves to this type of asset-based community development like no other lender I’ve ever seen.”
The evening ended with dancing and house music (inspired by the Frankie Knuckles collection archived in the Arts Bank) by special guest DJ Carl Jenkins of BMO Harris Bank.
We at CCLF would like to whole heartedly thank everyone who came to our 25th Anniversary Celebration, along with all of our sponsors, partners, supporters, customers and friends. Here’s a toast to another chapter of helping to ensure every metropolitan Chicago neighborhood can thrive so the entire region will prosper!
To view more photos of our 25th Anniversary Celebration visit our Flickr page here.