Living Cities Grants $3.2 Million Across Six U.S. Cities to Support Wealth Building Pathways

Funds from the Citi Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation to support cities in closing racial gaps in homeownership and small business ownership
Mar 30, 2023 3:20 PM ET

NEW YORK, March 30, 2023 /3BL Media/ - Living Cities, a national collaboration of prominent financial institutions and foundations, today announced a $3.2 million grant investment across six cities -- Albuquerque, NM, Austin, TX, Memphis, TN, Minneapolis, MN, Saint Paul, MN, and Rochester, NY -- to help close racial gaps in income and wealth. These grants, made possible by the Wells Fargo Foundation and Citi Foundation, were disbursed through the Living Cities Closing the Gaps Network, a multi-year initiative bringing together leaders from cities across the country who are committed to building an anti-racist society that advances equitable and inclusive economic opportunity.

"Homeownership and small business ownership are two of the proven ways to help any group of individuals build wealth to support themselves and their families," said Joe Scantlebury, President and CEO of Living Cities. "Gaps in wealth between people of color and white people persist and it will take coordinated, direct action by leaders in cities to turn back the on-going legacy of systemic racism. We believe that removing barriers to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color owning homes and small businesses is key for our nation's future."

The $3.2 million will be distributed across six cities focused on the following strategies:

  • Albuquerque, NM: Develop city-owned land to support and increase the homeownership rates for local Native and Black communities, as well as offer technical assistance to develop a pipeline of licensed Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) general contractors in the city.
  • Austin, TX: Partner with UpTogether to launch a direct cash assistance to support Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) who want to purchase homes through the City of Austin's land trust, as well as partner with community based organizations to provide equity infusions and technical support for BIPOC entrepreneurs.
  • Memphis, TN: Create a community land trust in the historic Orange Mound neighborhood to provide affordable homeownership, as well as develop a Contractors University to improve BIPOC access to contextual technical assistance, strengthen the contractor community, and help more BIPOC businesses contract with the city.
  • Minneapolis, MN: Partner with Youthprise to create a pilot cohort of underserved BIPOC youth to support them in advancing cooperative models for business and home ownership.
  • Saint Paul, MN: Contribute to the- Inheritance Fund, which offers forgivable loans to help low-income descendants of the old Rondo neighborhood purchase homes and support homeownership and employee owned co-ops through capacity building.
  • Rochester, NY: Target outreach to Head Start families with Housing Choice Vouchers to buy homes using their vouchers and assist with down payment assistance, as well as offering grants to early-stage BIPOC owned businesses, navigation support, and other technical assistance.

"We facilitate wealth building by making direct investments in the workers and families who call Saint Paul home," said Mayor Carter. "I am immensely grateful for the investment Living Cities is making in our shared vision."

"We are grateful for the financial investment and opportunity to partner with Citi Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, and Living Cities through this equity-driven affordable housing initiative," Mayor Jim Strickland said. "We are also excited to work alongside entrepreneurs of color to co-create business opportunities, refine strategies, and help in the development of a winning growth strategy that will contribute to building stronger communities in our city through education, training, and mentorship."

"The City of Rochester is grateful to be the recipient of grants totaling $550,201 from Living Cities, Citi Foundation and Wells Fargo Foundation to implement our City's work plans to dismantle barriers for BIPOC homeownership and entrepreneurship," said Rochester New York's Mayor, Malik D. Evans. "We understand that we have made progress, but it will take more work to dismantle decades of institutionalized racism. The City of Rochester is committed to using these funds to bridge the racial wealth gap by administering government policies and programs to increase homeownership and entrepreneurship opportunities for those who've been historically marginalized and underserved."

"We are doing more than ever before to ensure Black and Native residents have the resources and opportunities to become homeowners. Homeownership is a key pathway to creating generational wealth. Expanding housing options can change the lives of prospective homeowners while creating opportunities for Black and Native developers and contractors. Addressing the needs and potential of these communities builds a better and more equitable Albuquerque," said Mayor Tim Keller. "We are grateful that Living Cities is supporting these wealth-building efforts."

"Restoring financial well-being has to start at the local level where historically marginalized people can access pathways to home and small business ownership," said Otis Rolley, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. "We're excited to see how each of the selected cities customizes solutions for the needs of their community as they work to close the racial wealth gap. At Wells Fargo, we are committed to strengthening underserved communities and opening up more ways for people to grow generational wealth."

"Tackling the racial wealth gap requires a commitment to systemic interventions and bringing diverse change-makers to the table. That's exactly what Living Cities is doing through its Closing the Gaps Network," said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Head of Community Investing and Development at Citi. "By supporting this initiative, the Citi Foundation aims to help more U.S. cities test new approaches that have the potential to catalyze meaningful progress toward wealth creation and equitable growth."

About Living Cities 
Living Cities harnesses the collective power of philanthropy, financial institutions, and local governments to close racial income and wealth gaps in U.S. cities. Our staff, investments, convenings, partners and networks support efforts that operationalize racial equity and inclusion in local government, create inclusive narratives, bring communities together to devise and act on a shared vision for the future, and eliminate inequities in systems such as entrepreneurship, homeownership and access to capital. Learn more at