NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — As part of its work to address deep disparities in health, wealth and opportunity throughout the country, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has named 10 winners of the Rubinger Community Fellowship, an annual program that invests in nonprofit talent and new ideas to spur growth.

LISC will award $40,000 to each of the fellows, who will spend the year developing programs and researching new ideas focused on a range of local issues like racial inequality, small business growth, affordable housing, and workforce development.

“Talent is the most powerful ingredient in community and economic development.  Our hope is to partner with these local leaders to catalyze new opportunities in the communities where they live and work while building models that can be replicated by others,” said Maurice A. Jones, LISC president and CEO. 

The new cohort of Rubinger Fellows includes:

Joseph Ceasar, executive director of the Legacy Institute for Financial Education, Lufkin, Texas 

  • Create a financial wellness cooperative to expand access to financial products and services, particularly within Black communities, study outcomes and share best practices.

Ana María Cintrón, executive director, Causa Local, San Juan, Puerto Rico 

  • Build on successful KIVA lending program in order to bring crowd-lending to rural Puerto Rico, educate, and connect small business owners in under-banked communities to the broader economy.

Branden DuPont, data analyst, Medical College of Wisconsin 

  • Map property ownership of landlords in Milwaukee inspired by to inform government, community organizations, and residents about “who owns what” and prevent derelict owners from hiding behind LLC structures.

Michelle Johnson, founder, Institute for Public Scholarship, Kalamazoo, Mich. 

  • Advance efforts to establish a new Cultural Land Trust to elevate the history and protect the infrastructure of Black and Brown communities.

Dasha Kelly Hamilton, founder, Still Waters Collective, Milwaukee 

  • Develop Neighborhood Creatives in Residence as a scalable, replicable model for expanding a city’s creative network and deepening community engagement and issue advocacy.

Donte Miller, co-founder and executive director, Village Microfund, Atlanta 

  • Launch the Workers’ Equity Fund to invest in small businesses and give workers an equity stake in the future of the business.

Liz Ogbu, founder and principal, Studio O, Oakland 

  • Advance the development of the Social Impact Protocol for affordable housing, a tool for evaluating and setting up accountability for the social impacts of housing redevelopment.

Harry Tapia, director of operations, HACE, Philadelphia  

  • Design a redevelopment plan for a vacant, blighted park that transforms the space into a point of community connectivity, enhances health and safet,y and attracts public art.

Kelly Wofford, founder of Front Seat Life, Buffalo 

  • Develop a peer-led model for mental health coaching that helps people identify and manage their emotional health—not as a replacement for professional therapy but as an additional support for those who are struggling.

Sarah Yeung, founder, Sojourner Consulting, Philadelphia 

  • Analyze the food system and business environment in Chinatown and outline economic development and cultural preservation strategies that support small businesses and food access.

The Rubinger Fellowship program is named in honor of Michael Rubinger, LISC’s long-time CEO, who pioneered new approaches to revitalizing communities throughout his 40-year career. He stepped down in 2016 after 17 years at the organization’s helm.

“This impressive group of local leaders is pushing the boundaries of community development and focusing on issues that impact the quality of life for people throughout the country,” said Rubinger. “Especially now, in a year with so many challenges, we need to leverage their talent to design and develop new approaches that can help tens of thousands of people improve their incomes, their health and their long-term outlook.”

In addition to providing financial support to fellows, LISC also convenes the cohort three times a year to facilitate peer-to-peer learning experiences and provide leadership development training and additional program resources.

Support for the Rubinger Fellowship is provided by Lisa & Dick Cashin and LISC Chairman Robert E. Rubin, with additional support from Nancy and George Walker; Bank of America; Citi Foundation; Ford Foundation; The Kresge Foundation; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; MetLife Foundation; Morgan Stanley; State Farm; The Greater Milwaukee Community Foundation; and New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy.

About LISC

With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $22 billion to build or rehab more than 419,000 affordable homes and apartments and develop 70.3 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit

Media Contact:
Colleen Mulcahy, for LISC
[email protected] 

SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

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