Mission and History
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.
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.
Rainier Valley Community Development Fund awarded $1 million grant from Wells Fargo to help small businesses stay open and save jobs in the Seattle area. The funding will help RVCDF provide micro-grants, low-cost forgivable loans, technical assistance and long-term business coaching for diverse, low-income entrepreneurs.
Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (RVCDF) is a self-sustaining, community- controlled financial institution. 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 small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and developers to enhance the quality of life in the Rainier Valley.
RVCDF’s loan products and technical assistance are designed to support small business owners who generally are not served by traditional banks. 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. RVCDF’s clients include affordable housing providers, community facilities, real estate investors, and small neighborhood businesses.
RVCDF has made loans to Rainier Valley businesses and real estate projects using the original funds provided by the City of Seattle and Sound Transit. As those loans have been repaid, RVCDF has “revolved” 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 recently received certification as a community development financial institution (CDFI), a recognition by the U.S. Department of the Treasury of specialized financial institutions that serve low-income communities. With this certification, the organization has been able to pursue new funding sources for community development loans.
RVCDF was created in 2002 as a community-based, community-controlled nonprofit organization for the purpose of managing a $50 million fund that was created through grants from the City of Seattle ($42.8 million) and Sound Transit ($7.2 million) for four purposes:
- Provide one-time supplemental mitigation support to businesses that were affected by light rail construction through the Rainier Valley,
- Create a four-year pre-apprenticeship job training program,
- Business lending, and
- Real estate