Recognizing that vibrant, sustainable communities include more than affordable housing, we have expanded our lending program to include healthy food retail, community facilities, and community businesses.  All services, including financing, technical assistance, and advocacy, will now be available statewide.  As a result of this expansion, we needed a name that better represents the growth and future of our organization.  We are excited to announce that the  SC Community Loan Fund will now be known as the SC Community Loan Fund (CLF).

During yesterday’s preview luncheon, Michelle Mapp, executive director, reflected on a blog she wrote last year.  This piece thoughtfully and passionately explains the rationale for our expansion:

I believe that it is not enough to provide a hearty meal, a warm bed for the night, a quiet place in which a child can sit and do their homework, a free clinic open on the weekends, or an eight hour class on credit scores and budgeting.  These are all noteworthy, needed, and laudable accomplishments and our community should be applauded for its long and storied history of supporting such causes.  Yet each of these causes alone or collectively does not lead to systemic change in our community or alter the generational poverty that plagues so many of our families.  So how do we break the cycle of poverty, minimally adequate education, chronic unemployment, poor health?

My conjecture is that the gift of empowerment far exceeds the stigma of welfare and entitlement.

We must stop putting a band aid on a cut that really needs stitches. We must invest in community. We must invest in strengthening the fabric of our community. We must invest in tangible assets that create and sustain wealth in our poorest communities whether urban or rural.

No longer can our mantra to low income children just be get a good education, go to college, get a good paying job, and then you can move to the suburbs, buy a house, and live happily ever after.  No longer should the zip code in which a child starts its life predetermine how that life will end whether that is through violence, addiction, or disease.

We must think differently. We must act differently. And we must give differently, both in our individual philanthropy and in our government philanthropy. And when we give there must be a new expectation of a return on that investment.

I work for an organization whose unstated goal I have come to realize is to move people and places out of poverty. Our tool for accomplishing this goal is capital. Our collective capital can transform this community.

Our community needs housing. Our community needs small businesses. Our community needs medical clinics. Our community needs recreational facilities. Our community needs corner stores with healthy food options. Our community needs educational and daycare facilities. Our community needs access to affordable consumer financing.

These community assets not only create a sense of place. They create wealth. They create business owners. They create jobs. They empower people to be better, to do better, and to want better. They create a healthy, vibrant, sustainably self-sufficient community.