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Cascade: No. 57, Spring 2005

Wachovia Regional Foundation Funds Neighborhood Planning and Development

The Wachovia Regional Foundation (WRF), a private foundation that provides most of its grant dollars for the development of comprehensive community-based neighborhood plans, has begun holding educational neighborhood-planning workshops.

WRF has made over 85 grants totaling more than $31 million since the foundation was created in 1998 with a $100 million endowment during the merger of First Union Corporation and CoreStates Financial Corp. WRF’s service area is the eastern two-thirds of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Denise McGregor Armbrister, WRF’s executive director, said that the foundation encourages nonprofits that plan to apply for neighborhood-planning grants to attend the workshops, which she said have been oversubscribed and have resulted in stronger applications. Workshop attendees include nonprofit staff, residents, funders, and government representatives.

WRF’s neighborhood-planning grants, which range from $25,000 to $100,000, pay for expenses involving consultants or staff and for organizing residents, holding community meetings, and developing advisory groups. WRF funds community-based neighborhood plans that at a minimum must address the needs of children and families, economic development, affordable housing and housing counseling, and neighborhood building. The next deadline for neighborhood-planning applications is October 14, 2005; awardees will be notified on February 1, 2006.

Armbrister said that WRF has close working partnerships with the nonprofits that it funds. “We do extensive due diligence early on, and our grants are performance-based with specific outcomes, deliverables, and timelines,” she said.

WRF also provides neighborhood development grants of $100,000 to $750,000 for implementating neighborhood plans. These funds, which are used for program costs (not for bricks and mortar), are disbursed over three to five years. WRF requires that neighborhood development grant applicants use neighborhood plans as the basis for development initiatives. The plans may or may not have been funded by WRF.

In 2004, WRF provided $2 million in grants to 11 recipients. It made one of its largest grants, for $750,000, to People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PECCDC) in Philadelphia for the implementation of the West Powelton/Saunders Park Plan. PECCDC is using WRF funds to address critical neighborhood issues, including financial literacy, crime, security, cleanliness, and blight.

WRF has also provided significant funding support to suburban and rural nonprofits. A $450,000 neighborhood development grant enabled the Inner City Group in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to leverage additional public and private resources and dramatically improve one of Lancaster’s poorest neighborhoods. The South Duke Street Revitalization Project transformed South Duke Street into a center for commercial, residential, and recreational activities and strengthened ongoing community development, social service, educational, and crime-prevention efforts.

WRF, which has five staff members, also oversees the Wachovia Regional Community Development Corporation (WRCDC), a nonprofit affiliate of Wachovia Corporation that makes loans and program-related investments. WRCDC serves the same geographic area as WRF but considers requests by invitation only. WRCDC makes below-market loans of $50,000 to $250,000 for one to 10 years to intermediaries, primarily community development financial institutions, and has provided about $1 million in such loans. The WRCDC and WRF boards of directors have the same members.

A separate funding source is The Wachovia Foundation (TWF), a private foundation funded annually by Wachovia Corporation. TWF focuses on community development and education, and its grants range from $1,000 to $15,000. Typically, TWF community development grants are used for programmatic support for affordable housing, job creation, or economic development in low- to moderate-income communities. TWF serves the entire Wachovia footprint, whereas the WRF serves the tri-state area.

Armbrister said that “there is a need for public and private funders in community economic development to share what they’re doing and what their interests are.” During the past year, WRF has initiated meetings of funders in the Delaware Valley and in New Jersey.

WRF’s grantmaking criteria and activities may be found at www.wachovia.com/regionalfoundation. For information on WRF, contact Kimberly J. Allen, vice president and program officer, at (215) 670-4300. For information on neighborhood-planning workshops, contact Rebecca Martinez at (215) 670-4301.

Wachovia Foundation grant criteria are described at www.wachovia.com/wachoviafoundation. For information, nonprofits in Pennsylvania and Delaware should contact Kevin Dow at (215) 670-4306 or kevin.dow@wachovia.com. In New Jersey, contact Yvonne Calcagno at (609) 530-7347 or yvonne.calcagno@wachovia.com.