Over the past 10 years, Capital Impact Partners has invested more than $300 million to foster equitable and inclusive Detroit communities, and we are committed to achieving that vision with the city’s residents. To celebrate our 10th anniversary of working side-by-side with Detroiters, we look back at what worked and the work that remains in a video series with our staff and partners. Watch all the videos in our series here!
A Decade of Investment in Detroit’s Revitalization: An Oral History of Our Journey – Capital Impact Partners in Detroit
A decade ago, Detroit was on the verge of a landmark municipal bankruptcy. Emergency response times were among the slowest in the nation. Blight abounded in nearly every neighborhood. In the prior decade, Detroit had lost one-quarter of its population—more than 244,000 residents.
By Ellis Carr, President and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance
Ten years ago, Capital Impact Partners received an invitation from the Kresge Foundation to join in an effort to support Detroit as the city was reeling in the turbulence of the great recession. It was a seminal moment in our organization’s history, resulting in key shifts to our strategy and how we thought about investing – not only in buildings – but in communities.
Ellis Carr is now the president and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance. Kurt Chilcott, formerly president and CEO of CDC Small Business Finance, has transitioned to Board Chair of the combined organization. We invite you to learn more about our new enterprise at www.investedincommunities.org
With a mission to empower equitable community growth, CDC Small Business Finance and Capital Impact Partners recently launched three place-based pilot programs as part of our new alliance. The pilots are in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Metropolitan (D.M.V). Cross-organizational teams have been engaging with these communities to identify the unique issues of each city.
As part of the alliance’s focus on Detroit, CDC Small Business Finance’s CEO, Kurt Chilcott, and Capital Impact Partners CEO, Ellis Carr recently wrote an op-ed about their holistic approach to community and economic development that was published in The Detroit News.
Since COVID-19 began, times have been incredibly trying for many across the country. Schools and teachers have been particularly hard-hit, having to figure out what education looks like in this new reality. It has been grueling, the hours have been long, and all of this has taken place as teachers and school staff fear for the health and safety of their students, loved ones, and themselves.
By Ashlee Cunningham, Senior Specialist, Housing and Community Development
In Detroit, long-term disinvestment in the city’s neighborhoods has led to unequitable barriers to opportunity. Systemic racism and disenfranchisement limited opportunities for many Detroiters, more than 80 percent of whom are Black. That has kept many people from securing equitable access to safe, affordable housing; starting businesses; and other pathways to wealth building. As Detroit has worked to overcome bankruptcy, investment in the city has compounded these issues by leaving people living with low incomes with little ability to keep up with the pace of growth and gentrification for the neighborhoods they have called home for decades.
By Ian Wiesner, Director, Business Development
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have been bringing investment to Detroit for more than two decades. The mission-driven approach and unique tools that CDFIs bring to the market have played a critical role in the development of new housing and community facilities like grocery stores and schools in the city.
By Elizabeth Luther, Detroit Program Manager
Between 2000 and 2013, Detroit lost one-quarter of its population—more than 244,000 residents. When the city filed for bankruptcy in July 2013, the exodus continued, with residents leaving the city in record numbers. Vacant homes and shuttered businesses meant that those who remained had little support and far fewer employment prospects to keep themselves and their communities going.
By Ashlee Cunningham, Detroit Housing & Community Development Specialist
Long before Midtown Detroit—or Cass Corridor, as 39-year-old Wayne State University graduate and artist Rachel Barker prefers to call it—was booming with aesthetically pleasing coffee shops, hip art galleries and expensive retail stores, it was the neighborhood where Barker found the first apartment that she called home.