RVCDF was created in 2022
RVCDF was created in 2002 for the purpose of managing a $50 million trust created through grants from the City of Seattle ($42.8 million) and Sound Transit ($7.2 million). The use of the money was split between supplemental mitigation support to businesses affected by light rail construction through Seattle’s Rainier Valley, a job training program related to construction of light rail for local residents, and the establishment of ongoing funds for business lending and real estate lending.
The early one-time spending by RVCDF produced results: the business mitigation program, completed in 2008, achieved an 85 percent success rate in helping businesses survive light rail construction. The light rail job training program, which ended in 2010, resulted in 68 residents completing vocational training and 76 residents placed in construction or construction-related jobs. Over 90 percent of program participants were ethnic minorities and women. In addition, RVCDF also established a portfolio of roughly $25 million in real estate and small business loans to support economic growth in the Rainier Valley.
Guided by its mission to preserve and strengthen cultural diversity, long-term livability, and economic opportunity throughout Seattle’s Rainier Valley community, RVCDF provides lending capital and technical assistance to enhance the quality of life in the Rainier Valley. The organization’s clients include small neighborhood business owners, with an emphasis on reaching those generally not served by traditional banks, affordable housing providers, community facilities, and real estate investors.
By providing small business and real estate loans— and by assisting underserved potential clients to overcome obstacles that prevent them from being “loan ready”— business owners in the Rainier Valley are able to retain and create local jobs, provide goods and services to meet local needs, and contribute to economic growth within their community. From 2006 through 2017, a larger percentage of total dollars lent (84 percent) have gone towards real estate developments, while a larger percentage of total loans made (61 percent) were small business loans. This reflects the fact that real estate loans generally have been much larger than small business loans.
With this track record of success, the strategic plan comes at an exciting time for RVCDF. The organization has used all of the original funds provided by the City of Seattle and Sound Transit. As the real estate and small business loans made possible by those funds have been repaid, RVCDF continues to “revolve” those funds back into the community by making new loans.
RVCDF has used the interest payments from these loans to become a self-sustaining organization, and since 2016 no longer relies on supplemental grants for operations.
With this certification, the organization has been able to pursue new funding sources for community development loans.
The strategic planning process presented RVCDF with a chance to reflect on critical questions:
- How is it doing relative to its original mission of serving the Rainier Valley?
- How is its work perceived by the community it serves?
- How does its work compare to its peers in the area and around the country?
- How should new funds be incorporated into its work?
- Should it look at expanding its impact to other neighborhoods beyond the Rainier Valley?
As presented in Section IV, the strategic planning process was based on detailed analysis of comprehensive data. These analyses included 19 interviews with community stakeholders, an environmental scan, an analysis of RVCDF’s portfolio, and a comparison of RVCDF to 56 peer organizations.
A primary goal for this plan is to reconfirm RVCDF’s full and undiminished commitment to the Rainier Valley. This was also a common theme among stakeholders interviewed. That commitment is reflected clearly in the plan’s strategies. The planning process, including data analysis, yielded the following additional goals also addressed in the plan.
- The Rainier Valley continues to be a community in need of financial capital to further strengthen its economic growth and
- RVCDF has become a successful, stable, self-sustaining organization poised for new growth while staying true to its core
- The dramatic regional economic growth and rise in property values creates the need to address current and potential future displacement (residential and commercial) arising from increased economic activity in the Rainier Valley.
- The demand for RVCDF loan programs remains strong, which creates a need to raise new funds to pursue the organization’s
- Many Rainier Valley small business owners are in need of technical assistance to establish or grow their
- An opportunity exists to help other similar, high-need communities without lessening service to the Rainier
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