Communities Unlimited Receives $300,000 Grant From Wells Fargo Foundation to Support Rural Communities

Communities Unlimited announced a $300,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation, which will enable the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to provide micro small business loans to rural small businesses that will provide the capital they need to pivot or reopen their businesses closed because of COVID-19.

The grant for Communities Unlimited is one of six grants awarded to CDFIs that support housing and community development in rural communities with persistent poverty across the U.S.

According to Partners for Rural Transformation, of the 395 U.S. counties with persistent poverty, eight out of 10 are rural. The majority (60%) of people living in rural communities are people of color. These same distressed communities now grapple with the ongoing health and economic crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Communities Unlimited serves 45% of the persistent poverty counties in the United States. We welcome the support of the Wells Fargo Foundation to support our work toward eliminating persistent poverty in the rural South,” said Ines Polonius, CEO, with Communities Unlimited. “We know that collaboration is key to creating opportunities, advocating for changes in policy, developing innovative solutions and providing capital to rural entrepreneurs, so they are able to create jobs and build wealth for their families and their communities, ending generations of poverty and inequity in the rural South.”

CDFIs each receiving $300,000 grants from the Wells Fargo Foundation include:

“The economic challenges from COVID-19 are putting a spotlight on the most vulnerable people in underserved communities being disproportionately affected by job losses, under-employment, and housing instability,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, head of Housing Affordability Philanthropy with the Wells Fargo Foundation. “These CDFIs play a crucial role in reducing housing poverty and homelessness, improving health outcomes, boosting economic mobility, supporting job creation and retention, and strengthening the economy.”

The Wells Fargo Foundation has a strategic focus on addressing housing affordability, small business growth, and financial health and includes a $1 billion philanthropic commitment to address housing affordability solutions by 2025. As part of its $175 million response to COVID-19, the Wells Fargo Foundation has provided more than 1,200 grants in support of nonprofits to help keep more than 100,000 homeowners and renters housed. The Wells Fargo Foundation efforts to address the housing affordability crisis includes expanding the capacity of housing counselors to respond to renters and homeowners, supporting nonprofits that provide affordable rental homes and services, and support for legal aid organizations to provide representation for renters at-risk of eviction.

Read “A coalition on a mission to eliminate persistent poverty in the U.S.” on Wells Fargo Stories.