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Faith-based Investors Meet to Jump start post-Sandy Revitalization of Low-income Areas

Press Contact: 
Regina Weiss
Director of Communications
212-213-2113 x 20
Isaiah Fund commits $1 million to long-term recovery effort
Release Date: 
Wednesday, March 6, 2013


On Wednesday, March 6, 2013 the Isaiah Fund, the nation’s only interfaith investment fund dedicated to long-term recovery after natural disasters, held a meeting to jump start investment in low-income urban communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Isaiah Fund kicked things off by announcing a $1 million commitment to the effort.

The Isaiah Fund formed in the wake of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina to invest in the rebuilding and revitalization of disaster-torn communities in the Gulf Coast. The Fund has invested $4 million in New Orleans to date to help build or rebuild hundreds of affordable homes over the past five years, and well as space for cultural activities, small businesses, schools and medical facilities. Fund members include Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Mennonite and other faith-based institutions.

The goal of Wednesday’s meeting, which took place at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, was to match proven, effective strategies for rebuilding and revitalization with appropriate investment.  Disaster recovery experts, foundation funders, community investment groups and disaster response organizations shared lessons learned from years of recovery work in the Gulf Coast and information about current needs in New York and New Jersey.

“We have learned so much since coming together five years ago determined to invest in New Orleans’ recovery,” said Mark Regier, Director of Stewardship Investing for Everence Financial and a founding member of the Isaiah Fund Board of Managers.  “Today we have the privilege of taking the experience we have gained working with residents of the Gulf Coast and using it to foster effective strategies that will assist in the recovery of the most vulnerable communities harmed by Hurricane Sandy.”

“We know from our own investment experience, that when you listen to community members, and provide access to the resources they tell you they actually need, it ignites the growth of economic opportunity, systemic recovery and permanent change,” said Flozell Daniels, President and CEO, Foundation for Louisiana, an Isaiah funder. “We have seen the success of this model in the Gulf Coast and there is no doubt it can be equally effective for communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy.”

“This is an opportunity for the Isaiah Fund to replicate the information gathering that enabled us to make successful loans amounting to more than $4 million for affordable housing and essential community facilities in New Orleans,” said Jeffrey Dekro, President of the Isaiah Fund and Bend the Arc’s Tzedec Economic Development Fund.

“We are extremely grateful to have the wealth of talent, wisdom and experience gathered in this room,” said Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, which houses and manages the Isaiah Fund. “After Hurricane Sandy, many of us were focused on meeting immediate critical needs for food, water, clothing and other essentials. But we know that isn’t enough, not by a long shot. We will be there for the long haul, until these communities are able to prosper.”

“Through hard work and effective collaboration between our public and private sectors, New Orleans has rebuilt homes, businesses and entire neighborhoods after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina,” said Liza Cowan, Vice President for Global Philanthropy, JP Morgan Chase.  “This rebirth was made possible because our city, region and nation recognized the critical importance of timely and flexible investment. We’re happy to share the lessons we’ve learned with our neighbors on the East Coast who have been impacted by Super Storm Sandy.”

Participants included representatives from the Foundation for Louisiana, Calvert Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, UJA Federation, Disabilities Opportunity Fund, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, New Jersey Community Capital, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Partners for the Common Good, Queens Economic Development Corporation, Volunteer Center of Bergen County, Catholic Charities, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Everence Community Investments, American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Unitarian Universalists, New York Disaster Interfaith Services, Mennonite Disaster Services. 

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