By Ann Cameron
Interim President

At Community Vision we prioritize security of place for nonprofits and social enterprises we partner with. We do this because the California communities we serve are especially vulnerable to the pressures of income and wealth inequality that are fueling the state’s current affordability crisis.

Nonprofits and social enterprises in these communities are filling an important gap for residents who find themselves swimming against a stream of socioeconomic challenges stacked against them. If these community-serving entities – who have to compete for office and program facilities just like everyone – can’t maintain adequate space to meet this need, it disrupts the bridge low-income people need to live full, healthy, and productive lives.

This isn’t tangential. Communities on the margins of opportunity may struggle with low wealth but they also contribute greatly to the regions we work within. Take Community Vision’s client Life Learning Academy (LLA), for example.

LLA is a unique Treasure Island-based charter school offering a curriculum specific to the needs of youth who are at-risk of, or who have experience within, the juvenile justice system. The students are largely from poor communities and experience the trauma so common among young people in these environments. Included in the many challenges they face, approximately one-third of LLA students experience homelessness or very unstable living situations.  Recognizing that housing stability is a key factor in avoiding interactions with the system, as well as overall personal wellness, the school decided to take the bold step of pursuing the construction of a dormitory to meet the immediate needs of students without housing.

Building housing in San Francisco is tricky – especially for non-traditional developments like these. But the idea for the project was an innovative response to a pressing community problem with tremendous potential for impact. LLA would need the right partner to help prepare them, set them on the right path, and ultimately help them actualize this ambitious goal. Luckily, innovative community-led solutions to pressing local problems is right up Community Vision’s alley! Our Consulting Team first worked with LLA when they applied for, and received funding for the project through the City of San Francisco’s Nonprofit Space Stabilization Program administered by Community Vision’s Consulting Department. From there, LLA was able to launch a capital campaign for the remainder of the project, which our Lending Department supported by providing a bridge loan of more than $1.5M. In August we were pleased to join LLA at the grand opening of the new dormitory which will house approximately 20% of the students attending the school.

This project may have been a difficult sell to traditional financial institutions given that it doesn’t neatly fit into a category that is easily under-writable. The fact that Community Vision stepped up to the plate committing our expertise and capital, made it a far more attractive investment by these more traditional corporate and philanthropic sources who eventually contributed significantly to LLA’s capital campaign. Now, LLA offers this dormitory as a permanent community asset that is responsive to the needs of the citizenry without the lingering fear of displacement down the road. They can just do their important work now.

We know that you support many worthy organizations like LLA doing important on-the-ground work to fully realize opportunities for people in their communities. We invite your support of clients like LLA who rely on the generosity of individual donors to realize their mission. Community Vision also plays a vital role in building their resilience and permanency to strengthening communities. Your yearly tax deductible donation to Community Vision is also important. As we all work to confront income and wealth inequality, racial discrimination, and inequitable development in California’s most vulnerable communities, every dollar makes a difference.  Thank you for your contribution to Community Vision.