Community Ventures welcomes donations to support our manyprograms providing support, education and assistance to low-income Kentuckians.We never say "no" to someone's dreams ... we do say, "Let's work together, and create a path so you can get there from here." Everydonation -- whether $1,000 or $10,000 -- helps us help our clients reach their dreams. Every $1 in non-federal grant funding, individual or corporate donations can also be matched, dollar-for-dollar, with additional grant funds available through the U.S. Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. To make a donation, or for more information, please contact Wiley Faw, CV's chief information officer, at (859) 231-0054, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1450 N. Broadway, Lexington, KY 40505.
To build strong communities, people need ties that bind them to their neighborhoods and hope for a better future. Regardless of race, income, or social status, we all need someone to believe in us and our dreams.
We are dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals who lack access to opportunities. Home and business owners are at the heart of strong communities, so Community Ventures empowers individuals to achieve those dreams.
Community Ventures helps people own homes and start businesses because we believe in people’s dreams. From affordable financing to education, to neighborhood revitalization, our areas of focus offer the opportunity to dramatically improve the quality of life for people across Kentucky.
Founded in 1982, Community Ventures has evolved in capacity and knowledge, but our mission has stayed the same—to strengthen our communities by empowering individuals. We are focused on the areas of greatest need, where we can make the most impact. This is why we offer a range of products and services from financial counseling to large scale neighborhood revitalization.
Vibrant communities start with people, so Community Ventures gives our clients knowledge and skills they can use for the rest of their lives, and even pass down to later generations.
Founded in 1982, Community Ventures (CV) is a community-based non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for Kentucky’s urban and rural residents. We provide individuals and families with the skills, income, and assets they need to achieve financial independence through three core activities: homeownership, small business ownership, and job creation.
We connect capital with capacity by creating dynamic, strategic community-based partnerships, and we enhance the homeownership and entrepreneurial skills of our customers to empower them to achieve their goals. Sustained improvement in the communities we serve requires long-term success for each client; this mission-centric principle guides both our investment strategies and program delivery systems. Access to affordable lending capital is integrated with in-depth housing or business education, training and technical assistance. Through building individual skill sets our clients, all of whom are low income, realize lasting economic improvement and we, organizationally, achieve durable results.
Over the past three decades, we’ve provided $11 million in microloans to help more than 500 entrepreneurs start or expand businesses; we’ve provided affordable loans to larger Kentucky businesses, enabling them to create more than 11,000 new jobs. Our national on-line pre-purchase housing counseling program, eHome America, is used in every state in the country, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico, and in 2016 we served our 200,000th customer; the innovative program also returned $4.3 million in revenue to participating nonprofit partner agencies.
CV is pleased and honored to have again been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Kentucky 2015 Lender of the Year for both the SBA 504 Program and microenterprise lending. We are also blessed to have received one of five JP Morgan Chase PRO Neighborhood Program awards in the country, to support our work in Lexington’s East End, Louisville’s West End, and our partnership with other Kentucky nonprofits to strengthen housing and business lending in Rockcastle and Madison counties.
Our innovation continues in 2016, as the U.S. Small Business Administration recognized our kitchen incubator, Chef Space, as one of the most innovative business incubator programs in the country, and the U.S. Department of Treasury recognized our Build Appalachia Loan Fund as one of the top four most innovative programs nationally that increases capital in underserved rural areas.
2016: As a certified community housing development organization, CV acquired, repaired and sold 10 homes to low-income households. As a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, it provided pre-purchase homebuyer education to 142 families, including 62 that purchased homes; it also provided foreclosure prevention counseling to 649 families – helping 177 households regain their financial balance and save their homes from foreclosure.
As a community development financial institution certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury, CV helped 23 businesses obtain affordable loans, enabling them to create or retain more than 150 jobs providing $7.8 million (cumulatively) in annual payroll in communities across the state. It also provided loans to 89 microentrepreneurs.
CV also launched Bluegrass Harvest, an innovative, replicable collaborative effort involving the University of Kentucky Ag Economics, self-insured employers, the Organic Association of Kentucky and their farmers. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, self-insured employers can rein in healthcare costs through wellness programs including employer-paid community supported agriculture (CSA) vouchers. In 2017, CV will hopes to attract operating support to significantly expand the program, increasing the number of participating employers to 15 (from seven), the number of local organic farms providing produce to 12 (from 5), and the number of employees receiving employer-paid CSA vouchers to 1,000+ (from 300).
As part of its Third & Midland revitalization in Lexington, CV will also work toward creating an artists’ colony in 2017. Included will be artists’ housing, and a gallery that will provide exposure for and assistance to new and emerging artists - especially disadvantaged artists, artists of color, women artists and those with disabilities – in the art market, provide them with revenue generating opportunities and introduce arts to communities and locales that typically do not have such access.
Through Bluegrass Harvest, CV is strengthening and stabilizing income to Kentucky’s organic family farms while also helping self-insured employers reduce healthcare costs, through the employer-paid community supported agriculture voucher model. Research by the University of Kentucky shows Bluegrass Harvest CSA participants eat more healthy foods, have fewer visits to doctors’ offices, and are reducing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity. In 2017, CV hopes to obtain $250,000 in operating support to significantly expand the program in central and eastern Kentucky, with funds to be used for direct marketing to employers, CV staff salaries, and an Americorps or VISTA volunteer. Through planned growth, Bluegrass Harvest will become financially self-sustaining within three years.
CV is also launching a $2.8 million capital campaign to support the construction of artists’ homes and gallery in Lexington’s East End neighborhood; CV has existing commitments of $70,000 for initial staff support and $500,000 in capital construction costs. CV hopes to obtain an equity-equivalent or low-interest program related investment of $2 million from one or more private foundations, and public or private grants totaling $230,000 for initial program implementation costs.
When I became president of Community Ventures in 1993, we primarily offered small business services.
One of our first clients was a young woman on welfare who dreamed of starting her own business. She told me that if she were able to purchase a paint spray gun, she could start a commercial painting business to support herself and her family. She met with one of our business loan specialists and was approved for a $500 loan, with which she purchased the equipment that she needed. Soon, she became the owner of a successful small business, and within seven months, she was off of welfare.
This is what Community Ventures seeks to do -- we help people achieve their dreams to provide for themselves and for their families. If someone walks through our doors and they want to improve their lives, whether it be though purchasing a home or starting a business, we absolutely never say “no”. We work with them to figure out where they are and where they want to be, and say, “Ok, if you want this, here is your next step.”
After 30 years, Community Ventures continues to focus on this idea—that everyone needs someone to believe in his or her dreams. However, now our capacity has grown. We now have the experience, staff, and partnerships to undertake large-scale neighborhood revitalization projects that can positively impact entire communities, as we’re doing in Louisville’s West End and Lexington’s East End.
We can create unique programs to meet gaps in our service delivery system, such as Chef Space, our kitchen incubator in Louisville – or Bluegrass Harvest, our employer-based community supported agriculture model in central Kentucky – or Build Appalachia, our newest loan fund to create recession-proof, stable employment to replace jobs lost throughout the coalfields. And all the while, we continue to offer outstanding service and concrete results for our clients through our microloan, small business expansion, mortgage lending, and housing counseling programs.
Mr. Smith currently serves as President/CEO for Community Ventures Corporation, a nonprofit community development organization which improves the lives of residents throughout Kentucky by strengthening and increasing affordable housing, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Established in 1982, CV has become the state’s primary provider of entrepreneurial/small business and homeownership lending and development services. Over the past 15 years, Mr. Smith has raised more than $108 million in private and public funding for nonprofit programs.
Since 1993, Mr. Smith has developed the organization and overseen agency growth from a one-person/one-program office to a staff of 54 in five satellite offices implementing training, technical assistance, and credit and financial counseling. During his tenure, CV has helped more than 600 families become first-time homebuyers and more than 5,000 entrepreneurs have started or expanded small businesses. CV’s programs for larger businesses that locate or expand in disadvantaged communities have resulted in the creation or retention of more than 11,000 jobs and, since becoming a certified community development financial institution in 1997, CV has invested more than $200 million to revitalize distressed communities. Financially, CV has grown from a small nonprofit with less than $1 million in assets to today's multi-state lender and educational services provider with more than $50 million in total assets.
Mr. Smith is a member of the board of directors of the national New Markets Tax Credits Coalition, the CDFI Coalition, and the Friends of SBA (Small Business Administration). He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky and also completed studies in economics at the University of London in London, England.
CV operates the state’s only U.S. Small Business Administration women’s business center, the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky, at in Louisville.The WBC assists women in starting and growing small businesses, and "levels the playing field" for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world. The Center primarily works with women who are economically or socially disadvantaged, and provides comprehensive training and counseling on a variety of topics.
The Center has helped more than 2,300 women learn the skills necessary to start or expand their own business. The Center’s work creates lasting, transformative change by providing a woman-centered curricula spanning the continuum of business needs, from basic legal and regulatory requirements to writing a business plan, raising capital from public and private sector lenders, and overcoming gender-specific issues such as integrating multiple life roles and business goals.
Bluegrass Harvest is an innovative partnership among area employers, Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK), and Community Ventures to encourage organic farming, keep local dollars in our communities, and to build a healthier Kentucky. Our partners support Bluegrass Harvest’s work to promote healthy lifestyles and take a proactive approach to improving our health, environment, and community.
Bluegrass Harvest makes community supported agriculture (CSA) more accessible by linking people who care about the food they eat to local farmers who grow top-quality food. Bluegrass Harvest supports a network of 8+ local farms and employers, linking them together through a shared interest in healthy food consumption. Bluegrass Harvest sells CSA shares from locally supported organic farms to self-insured employers. In its inaugural year, Bluegrass Harvest sold over 200+ CSA shares to area employers to be distributed to their employees and created $95,000 new dollars for local farms.
Homeownership is a critical pathway to empower families to move out of poverty, by increasing their financial stability and net worth. CV’s American Dream Loan Fund provides first mortgage loans to individuals and families who do not qualify for loans in the private market, or through government programs. FICO scores can be as low as 600. Terms are 30 years and loan-to-value ratios can be close to 100%. Loans carry a fixed interest rate – slightly higher than the current market rate – to offset CV’s risk. There is no requirement for mortgage insurance, so buyers’ monthly payments are often lower than those seen in the secondary market. Since 2013, CV has provided more than $6 million in first mortgage loans, in conjunction with pre- and post-purchase financial and housing counseling. Because of the high quality education and technical assistance, the Fund has a delinquency rate less than 2%, and a default rate of zero.
Typically, loans are made to commercial enterprises that are expanding their operation (and thereby providing increased employment), or to start-up businesses whose capital requirements cannot be met with other private resources.
The average SBE loan size is $75,000.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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499 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40507