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Funds from the Citi Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation to support cities in closing racial gaps in homeownership and small business ownership

(NEW YORK, NY –  Living Cities, a national collaboration of prominent financial institutions and foundations, today announced a $3.2 million grant investment across six cities — Albuquerque, NM, Austin, TX, Memphis, TN, Minneapolis, MN, St. Paul, MN, and Rochester, NY — to help close racial gaps in income and wealth. These grants, made possible by the Wells Fargo Foundation and Citi Foundation, were disbursed through the Living Cities Closing the Gaps Network, a multi-year initiative bringing together leaders from cities across the country who are committed to building an anti-racist society that advances equitable and inclusive economic opportunity

“Homeownership and small business ownership are two of the proven ways to help any group ofindividuals build wealth to support themselves and their families,” said Joe Scantlebury, President and CEO of Living Cities. “Gaps in wealth between people of color and white people persist and it will take coordinated, direct action by leaders in cities to turn back the on-going legacy of systemic racism. We believe that removing barriers to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color owning homes and small businesses is key for our nation’s future.”

The $3.2 million will be distributed across six cities focused on the following strategies:

●      Albuquerque, NM: Develop city-owned land to support and increase the homeownership rates for local Native and Black communities, as well as offer technical assistance to develop a pipeline of licensed Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) general contractors in the city.

●      Austin, TX: Partner with UpTogether to launch a direct cash assistance to support Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) who want to purchase homes through the City of Austin’s land trust, as well as partner with community based organizations to provide equity infusions and technical support for BIPOC entrepreneurs. 

●      Memphis, TN: Create a community land trust in the historic Orange Mound neighborhood to provide affordable homeownership, as well as develop a Contractors University to improve BIPOC access to contextual technical assistance, strengthen the contractor community, and help more BIPOC businesses contract with the city.

●      Minneapolis, MN: Partner with Youthprise to create a pilot cohort of underserved BIPOC youth to support them in advancing cooperative models for business and home ownership. 

●      St. Paul, MN: Contribute to the Inheritance Fund, which offers forgivable loans to help low-income descendants of the old Rondo neighborhood purchase homes and support homeownership and employee owned co-ops through capacity building.

●      Rochester, NY: Target outreach to Head Start families with Housing Choice Vouchers to buy homes using their vouchers and assist with down payment assistance, as well as offering grants to early-stage BIPOC owned businesses, navigation support, and other technical assistance.

“We are grateful for the financial investment and opportunity to partner with Citi Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, and Living Cities through this equity-driven affordable housing initiative,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “We are also excited to work alongside entrepreneurs of color to co-create business opportunities, refine strategies, and help in the development of a winning growth strategy that will contribute to building stronger communities in our city through education, training, and mentorship.”

“Tackling the racial wealth gap requires a commitment to systemic interventions and bringing diverse change-makers to the table. That’s exactly what Living Cities is doing through its Closing the Gaps Network,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Head of Community Investing and Development at Citi. “By supporting this initiative, the Citi Foundation aims to help more U.S. cities test new approaches that have the potential to catalyze meaningful progress toward wealth creation and equitable growth.”

About Living Cities 

Living Cities harnesses the collective power of prominent foundations and financial institutions to close racial wealth and income gaps in U.S. cities. Our staff, investments, convenings, partners and networks support efforts that operationalize racial equity and inclusion in local government, create inclusive narratives, bring communities together to devise and act on a shared vision for the future, and eliminate inequities in systems such as entrepreneurship, homeownership and access to capital. Learn more at