A Publication of WTVP

LISC coordinates partners to work together to tackle a slew of issues in distressed neighborhoods.

Taking a comprehensive approach to building sustainable communities is how LISC (Local Initiative Support Corporation) helps stimulate growth and helps those in need. LISC, a Caterpillar Foundation grantee, provides local community development organizations with loans, grants and equity investments; local, statewide and national policy support; and technical and management assistance—all to help transform distressed neighborhoods into sustainable communities.

The Caterpillar Foundation invested in LISC because of its experience turning impoverished neighborhoods into vibrant communities through economic development. We have invested with LISC in several cities around the country, including helping start the Peoria, Illinois chapter.

The Greater Peoria area needed an organization to help develop its blighted neighborhoods and address challenges such as affordable housing and high crime rates. We thought this could be a benefit to Peoria.

LISC coordinates partners to work together in order to tackle a slew of issues in distressed neighborhoods such as neighborhood safety, workforce training for local citizens, school performance, youth activities, healthy lifestyles and much more.

In Illinois, $70 million was made available in early 2012 from a settlement with the five largest mortgage servicers, which provided a grand total of $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers across the country. In Peoria, a number of organizations were interested in applying for the money, but those organizations did not have the resources to do so alone. This is where LISC comes in.

Followed by extreme efforts, Peoria was awarded $3 million to revitalize the East Bluff, including the demolition of 20 buildings, construction and rehab of 30 homes, housing counseling services and down payment assistance. This was done, in large part, by the support of the Caterpillar Foundation, which partnered with LISC to launch the first new LISC office in 15 years. The Caterpillar Foundation granted LISC $3 million in seed money, and a year and half later, the Greater Peoria LISC office opened its doors.

Greater Peoria LISC works in programmatic areas dedicated to specific neighborhoods. Its work includes: AmeriCorps, community engagement, financial opportunity centers, grant making, loans, equity investments, public policy and technical assistance.

The Caterpillar Foundation invests globally, but turning the spiral of poverty into a path to prosperity in the city that hosts Caterpillar’s headquarters shows the need is local as well. In recent news, Greater Peoria LISC has focused on the prioritization of adult education, two murals in the East Bluff celebrating residents and businesses, a day of service for low-income housing areas, and the announcement of a partnership with the NFL Foundation to update area football fields. Visit to learn more about the initiatives of Greater Peoria LISC. iBi

Michele Sullivan is president of the Caterpillar Foundation.