The investment bank’s foundation said last month that the pledge will be split evenly between below-market-rate loans and grants to nonprofits. JPMorgan will give up to $3 million in as many as 30 cities. Winning proposals will strengthen established coalitions that seek “systems change” in a variety of areas, including health, education, transportation, criminal justice, and economic development.
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, JPMorgan has poured tens of millions of dollars into urban revitalization projects over the past several years, most notably in Detroit, where the company devoted $100 million to an effort led by foundation, business, and civic leaders to bring the city out of bankruptcy. It has also been active in Chicago and Washington, D.C., where it has committed $40 million and $25 million, respectively.
Those big commitments not only involve a lot of cash, said Janis Bowdler, president of JPMorgan Chase Foundation, but also require an involved and driven group of leaders who have mobilized around a common strategy.
“These are not necessarily places that are starting from scratch,” she said. “We’re looking for cities and civic leaders where there’s already been some table-setting, where there is a shared vision and what they’re lacking is funding.”
The investment portion of the pledge seeks what Bowdler calls the “missing middle” – where city officials and nonprofit leaders have identified promising business investments that would likely result in sustainable enterprises but that have a higher risk profile than many commercial lenders can tolerate.
JPMorgan will primarily make loans to projects led by Community Development Financial Institutions that are meant to help entrepreneurs of color access capital and finance neighborhood revitalization. To oversee the challenge, the financial-services giant assembled an advisory council with eight members, including Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson, who has worked with JPMorgan extensively in Detroit; Ashley Swearengin, who is the former mayor of Fresno and current president of the Central Valley Community Foundation; and other civic, business, and academic leaders.
The $500 million commitment reflects a 40 percent increase in giving that JPMorgan announced in January.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2018