Collaboration and partnerships have always been at the core of our work at Community Vision. Over the last year and a half, our staff embodied this value in a deeper way as we supported our clients and communities through the impacts of COVID-19, social uprisings, and another horrific fire season. One thing we learned during this time is that we must build our capacity around building trust and relationships. Relationships are at the heart of our work. By investing in them we are able to discover and implement high impact community solutions with our clients. For us, it’s important to uplift the leaders closest to the challenges and actively invest time, expertise, and resources in actualizing their visions and solutions for their communities.
It’s a privilege to be a part of the evolution of this organization and I’m so proud of who we are today; a partner in amplifying and cultivating community-led solutions by leveraging capital investments and expert advising to support land access and wealth building. As a staff member of Community Vision for more than two decades, I know the ins and outs of this organization in an intimate way. I’m familiar with our strengths, areas for growth, and know that our strong financial position allows us to invest in our future, which starts with hiring several new leadership positions. Community Vision is strong thanks to our talented staff; we are creating these new roles to deepen our impact and position ourselves for new growth and innovation.
Our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan put us on the journey of re-imaging and evolving how we do our work, from day-to-day internal and interpersonal interactions, to how we show up in the community, what programs and services we offer, who we partner with, and how we leverage our resources to support California’s ecosystem of changemakers. COVID-19 made the shifts already underway more urgent and we responded by pivoting our offerings to better align with a community-centered approach to building a reparative and inclusive economy.
Despite my familiarity with the organization, I’ve come into my new role with a lot of care, intention, and commitment to doing a lot of listening. I’ve been in conversation with Community Vision staff, Board, investors, partners, and other CDFI leaders, to learn how I and the organization can best serve during a time when societal and global ‘normal’ and ‘reality’ are up for reckoning.
Through these conversations, and my personal experiences in the CDFI industry, I am thinking a lot about how we can have an even deeper impact by offering creative capital and real estate solutions to cultivate more community ownership of community assets. For us, it is especially important that we center the following as we lay the groundwork for our next chapter:
Together, we have the opportunity to be bolder
This is a time of great opportunity and potential for those in the CDFI, philanthropic, and social impact investing industries to transform how we work, listen to community priorities, and direct capital and expertise to resource community assets and the visions people have for their neighborhoods. A paradigm shift is imperative and as an industry we must approach our work differently. We can’t do this alone and through partnerships we collectively have the opportunity to leverage our strengths, learnings, and power. If the existing structures and systems we’ve created are not supporting community health and well-being then we should create new, inclusive systems and pathways.
Capital is powerful, especially when we are creative with how we leverage it
While we were founded as a community loan fund in 1987, we have grown to be a multifaceted organization using capital and expertise to affect systemic change and increase community ownership of community assets. Lending is central to our work, however, we know that technical assistance, grantmaking, forgivable loans, and other forms of capital (navigational and social, for example) can be powerful resources that steward, seed, and amplify community-driven solutions. We also know that each client, project, and partnership requires us to think creatively and act holistically.
We are part of an ecosystem of changemakers
We are one contributor in a larger ecosystem of movement builders and we can be most effective when we leverage our resources to build authentic partnerships and work within our niche. For us, this means being intentionally collaborative and thoughtful about how we contribute to the larger environment we exist in. We are in a critical time that offers us the opportunity to reimagine a financial system that supports communities marginalized by discriminatory systems and institutions with building wealth and stability for themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods.
As the President of Community Vision, I commit to our values, to centering communities on the margins, and to cultivating a culture of care internally and externally. Over the coming months I look forward to sharing more. In the meantime, please help us find some great new leaders to join us, and our communities, as we enter into this next bold phase of Community Vision.