About Us

Our Mission

The Rainier Valley Community Development Fund is a self-sustaining, community-controlled financial institution that preserves and strengthens cultural diversity, long-term livability, and economic opportunity for Rainier Valley residents, businesses, and institutions.
Sounder Station

Our Impact

From 2003 to 2009, RVCDF administered more than $15 million in mitigation funds to 183 southeast Seattle businesses impacted by Sound Transit’s light rail construction.
We are proud of our efforts to create tangible, data-driven results by investing in the Rainier Valley community with a key focus on minority and women owned businesses through our lending programs initiated in 2006.
$ 0 M
Total Investments
Since 2006
Total Loans Since 2006
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Minority / Women Owned

Our History

In response to community outcry organized by Save Our Valley over the disruption, displacement and community impact of an at-grade light rail project, the Sound Transit Board approved a $50 million transit-oriented community development fund (Fund) available to the Rainier Valley community to fund physical and economic improvements in the Central Link light rail corridor. The resolution called for the establishment of a community advisory panel to administer the Fund.
A steering committee was formed comprising of ten Rainier Valley community members and five Seattle, Sound Transit and King County representatives with the purpose of proposing a detailed operating plan for the Fund.
An operating plan was completed and approved by the Sound Transit Board and Seattle City Council, establishing a $21.5 million Supplemental Mitigation Account (SMA) to support businesses that were impacted by the light rail construction, $2 million for a job training program, and the remainder was appropriated for a Community Development Program (CDP) to create a self-sustaining, community-controlled fund that supports business and community development in Rainier Valley. Both the SMA and CDP are to benefit the residents, businesses and institutions of Southeast Seattle that will increase transit ridership within the geographic boundaries of the Fund.
The steering committee was dissolved and Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (RVCDF) was incorporated as a non-profit organization to implement and manage the programs created by the Fund.
First SMA program payment was paid in June to provide mitigation expenses to businesses disrupted by the light rail construction.
The Pre-Apprenticeship program began in November 2004 to provide Rainier Valley residents with job readiness training.
The operating plan was amended to target two lines of business for the CDP: 25% of the funds for business development to encourage small business formation, strengthen existing businesses, and promote job creation; and 75% for real estate development to encourage new catalyst development and physical improvements to Rainier Valley—including both new construction and rehabilitation of existing buildings—to stimulate economic activity, increase commercial inventory, and promote affordable housing for Rainier Valley residents.
The first CDP loan was funded for $1.1 million for the acquisition of a site for redevelopment.
RVCDF staff organized a group of business owners in the MLK business district and formed the MLK Business Association to promote the businesses along the MLK corridor with a vision to foster a culturally diverse business community as a destination in the Pacific Northwest.
RVCDF and MLK Business Association, in cooperation with Sound Transit and the City of Seattle Department of Transportation and Department of Neighborhoods, organized the MLK Safety Street Fair to promote safety awareness when riding the light rail and to shop the diverse businesses along MLK. The fair was attended by over 3,000 people.
RVCDF was bestowed the Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award by the National Community Development Association in recognition of the exemplary and innovative use of the Community Development Block Grant funds to address the needs of low and moderate income families, homes and neighborhoods.
The SMA program was completed, disbursing $15.2 million to 183 businesses impacted by the light rail construction from 2003 to 2009.
Link light rail opens for passenger service between downtown Seattle and Tukwila with the inaugural ribbon cutting at Mt. Baker Station.
The Pre-Apprenticeship program, funded by an $855,600 grant, concluded in mid-2010 with 68 residents completing vocational training and 76 residents placed in construction or construction-related jobs. Over 90% of program participants were ethnic minorities and women.
Former Seattle City Council member and interim RVCDF executive director Richard McIver was honored at the RVCDF 10th annual meeting for his leadership in establishing RVCDF and as an advocate for serving the diverse population of Southeast Seattle. His determination resulted in the $50 million fund that benefited the Rainier Valley community and its businesses during the construction of the light rail project, and continues to support the businesses with RVCDF’s revolving loan fund.
RVCDF becomes self-sustaining. Interest and fee revenue from its outstanding loan portfolio of $21.5 million has reached a level that adequately covers the costs of program and administration operations.
The remaining CDP funds appropriated to the Fund was disbursed, culminating in a total of $25.6 million of original capital for 36 loans to 31 businesses and non-profit organizations during the period from 2006 to 2016.
RVCDF was certified by the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund, a program of the US Treasury Department, opening opportunities to apply for grant and loan funds from the CDFI and other capital sources.
Patricia Pascal, former RVCDF board member, RVCDF steering committee member, Save Our Valley member, and community activist, was honored at the RVCDF annual meeting for her life-long commitment to RVCDF and the Rainier Valley community.
The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund awards $776,500 to RVCDF to increase its volume of financing to a greater geographic area in southeast Seattle and support increased diversification.
Wells Fargo awards $1 million of lending capital under its Diverse Community Capital program to RVCDF to serve small businesses in low income diverse neighborhoods with limited access to capital.
The organization completes a strategic plan for years 2019 to 2024, affirming its vision, mission and values. The plan identifies 18 strategies and an implementation schedule and metrics for each strategy. Approximately $25 million revolved from the original trust assets will continue to be committed in the Rainier Valley and new capital will be used to expand the investment area to Beacon Hill and the area north of the I-90 light rail station under construction.

About Us

RVCDF building

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.

RVCDF has received certification as a community development financial institution (CDFI)

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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If your business or residence is located in southeast Seattle and your company has been in business for at least one year, Rainier Valley Community Development Fund will work with you on your specific financing needs. Take a few minutes to complete a loan inquiry now.