Four Memphis Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) have been awarded a $3 million grant from JPMorgan Chase to create more small business and housing opportunities for Frayser and Whitehaven residents.

United Housing Inc., River City Capital Investment, Communities Unlimited and Hope Credit Union received the funding during JPMorgan Chase’s sixth annual Partnership for Raising Opportunity Neighborhoods competition.

The investment bank’s PRO Neighborhoods competition launched in 2016 with the goal of sparking collaboration among community organizations to help address neighborhood challenges.

Over the next three years, the $3 million grant will be used to create small business loans, build or preserve affordable housing units, provide consumer loans and increase access to financial literacy, lending, credit and homeownership programs for Frayser and Whitehaven residents.

The proposal aligns with the Memphis 3.0 plan, which the city plans to use in decision-making to help neighborhoods prosper over the next 20 years, if implemented.

United Housing executive director Amy Schaftlein said CDFI Memphis focused its application on Frayser and Whitehaven because the work of the four organizations involved overlapped in those two neighborhoods.

“We want to increase the accessibility of those things in order to improve small business startup growth and financial wealth,” Schaftlein said.

Erika Wright, JPMorgan Chase’s vice president of global philanthropy for Louisiana, Tennessee and Missouri, said CDFI Memphis’ collaboration and its decision to align its proposal with the Memphis 3.0 plan played a key role in them securing the grant.

“They were able to leverage for this proposal the city’s citywide plan, which was very resident-driven and allowed folks to lift up priorities in their neighborhoods,” Wright said. “They’re doing that in two communities that really need it and have seen some significant disinvestment, and we know that there is a significant racial wealth divide in Memphis that these CDFIs are trying to tackle through this work.”

CDFI Memphis is a network of seven financial institutions, based in Memphis and Mid-South, focused on offering families, businesses and residents resources in banking, lending and education.

CDFI Memphis includes Hope Credit Union, River City Capital Investment, United Housing, Tri-State Bank of Memphis, Community Lift, Communities Unlimited and Pathway Lending.

The PRO Neighborhoods competition is part of JPMorgan Chase’s five-year, $125 million investment to neighborhood revitalization. CDFI Memphis was one of seven applicants selected nationwide for the grant, a process that included 75 applicants.

CDFI Memphis hopes through the grant to assist more than 70 small businesses, procure 30 small business loans, build 12 affordable housing units and improve/demolish five blighted properties over the next three years, Schaftlein said.

The MEMShop program, which activates vacant and unused storefronts, is also coming to Whitehaven and Frayser as part of the $3 million investment. Six new MEMShops will open in Whitehaven and Frayser, three in each neighborhood.

The four CDFIs hope to expand their work to other Memphis neighborhoods in the near future. Programming that comes with the new funding is expected to begin in early 2020.

Schaftlein hopes the grant will encourage others – including the city, Shelby County and local banks – to invest more funding in Frayser and Whitehaven.

“We, as a network, will continue to leverage our own individual fundraising to bring more than what is just in this grant over these next three years,” Schaftlein said.