News/Blog

Fisk University (Nashville, TN)

1000 17th Avenue N, Nashville, TN

Conceived in the hopeful aftermath of the Civil War to help satisfy the enormous demand for education on the part of Black Americans, Fisk University opened its doors on January 9, 1866. In subsequent decades Fisk University went on to bequeath to the nation a string of graduates constituting an unremitting procession of African-American firsts, including W.E.B DuBois, sociologist and the first Black recipient of a PhD from Harvard (1896); St. Elmo Brady, the first Black recipient of a PhD in Chemistry (1916); Hettie Love, the first Black female to graduate with an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (1947); Mahala Dickerson, the first Black woman attorney admitted to the Alabama State Bar (1948); and Etta Falconer, the first Black woman to earn a PhD in Mathematics (1969). Today, over 1,000 undergraduates and graduate students are enrolled at Fisk University.

And yet while Fisk’s commitment to academic rigor and minority opportunity has never flagged, African-Americans as a whole remain disproportionately poor and suffer from higher rates of violent crime, inferior health outcomes and lower levels of educational attainment than the average American.

Fisk University is keenly aware of these yawning disparities but has been focused until recently on putting its own house in order. Conscientious leadership and hard work in the new century have righted the ship, allowing Fisk to embark upon a bold plan of enrollment growth, career support for its graduates, and unprecedented engagement with its surrounding, deeply disadvantaged community.

Fisk University is planning four projects to grow enrollment and retention, boost career development and embark upon unprecedented engagement with its surrounding, highly-distressed low income community, including the following:

  • Academic Excellence & Student Performance Center
  • Roland Parrish Career Center
  • Hope-Franklin Library
  • Driskell House (Social Justice/Race Relations)

In January of 2023, in partnership with Hope Enterprise Corporation and Wells Fargo Bank, Crescent closed on a $7.5M Federal NMTC financing which generate eight new permanent jobs, retain a further eight positions and increase enrollment by an estimated 15%.

Girls Inc. (San Antonio, TX)

2214 Basse Road, San Antonio, TX

The mission of national non-profit Girls Inc. and its affiliates is to serve girls and young women ages 6-18 by fostering long-term mentoring relationships within safe spaces for girls to develop their strengths and take charge of their futures. Girls Inc. deploys an evidence-based, pro-girl model to address the systemic barriers that hold young women back today. Within pro-girl, girls-only safe spaces, Girls Inc. teaches young women to be Strong, Smart and Bold.

  • Strong – Programming that teaches nourishing habits, including stressing the importance of positive choices, a healthy diet, rest and self-care, to create the resiliency essential for future accomplishment.
  • Smart – Programming that prepares girls for fulfilling work and economic independence. Specific career opportunities and pathways are described, with a focus on STEM fields that experts believe will offer the largest number of highly-remunerative professions for which demand is growing – professions in which women continue to be underrepresented. Girls Inc. also provides access and opportunities for young women to meet and learn from female role models and community leaders. This exposure demonstrates to young, underprivileged women that women can and do succeed in all realms.
  • Bold – Programming that fosters positive self-image and intellectual confidence, encouraging girls to develop and use their voices. Girls Inc. wants to see young woman become comfortable taking risks, learning from mistakes, and growing.

In 2004, Girls Inc. inaugurated its San Antonio chapter. A majority of its participants come from impoverished communities of color, with program attendees almost exclusively Hispanic.  These young women struggle, growing up in neighborhoods affected by violence, in under-resourced schools, and without access to adequate nutrition or healthcare. Birth rates among teenage young women of color are twice as high as among white teens.

In 2020, sixteen years after its establishment in San Antonio, Girls Inc. acquired a permanent headquarters facility, enabling a quantum leap in its capacity and capabilities.

In September of 2022, in partnership with Texas Mezzanine Fund, and Chase Bank, Crescent closed on a $9M Federal NMTC financing which will enable Girls Inc. of San Antonio – eighteen years after its establishment – to complete and fully equip its new headquarters and youth activity campus, providing a safe space for San Antonio’s underprivileged young woman of color to develop their strengths, learn from mistakes, and take charge of their future, according to the proven Strong, Smart, Bold model.

The completed campus will rank as a vanguard initiative designed to recover ground lost during the pandemic, during which time narrowed horizons, academic underperformance, violence and abuse have proliferated among San Antonio’s disadvantaged young women of color. The new Girls Inc. campus will double the number of young women attending the evidence-based programming offered by Girls Inc., from 2,500 annually to 5,000 annually. FTE staff numbers will double as well from 15 to 30.

Jefferson Community Health and Life (Fairbury, NE)

2200 H Street, Fairbury, NE

Jefferson Community Health & Life was established in 1963 as Jefferson County Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home, the first hospital/nursing home combination in the state of Nebraska. The facility has grown over the years, adding a home health agency in 1984, a community wellness center in 1996, expanding outpatient services throughout the years, and adding the Fairbury Clinic in 2016, and opened the Plymouth Clinic in 2018. Through its 50-plus-year history, Jefferson Community Health & Life has been very active and involved in its community, and has worked to promote health and wellness. Currently 20 visiting specialists utilize this space each month, allowing area residents the opportunity to receive specialty care locally.   JCHL operates two rural health clinics offering primary care services by 9 employed providers.

In Nebraska, nearly 30 percent of the state’s population resides in rural areas like Fairbury and its surrounding communities.  JCH&L faces a unique combination of rural forces not faced by their urban healthcare peers, such as continuing health provider shortages, limited access to specialty care, disparate socioeconomic factors, and higher rates of obesity, hypertension, suicide, and death by serious injury.

In August of 2022, in partnership with Hampton Roads Ventures, and US Bank, Crescent closed on a $9M Federal NMTC/$9M Nebraska State NMTC twin financing for the expansion of the Jefferson Community Health and Life Critical Access Hospital..

The expansion includes 23 exams rooms, 2 special procedure rooms, a radiology room, and a specialty room for COVID and flu patients.  JCH&L currently employs 192 FTEs and this expansion will create 10 new full-time jobs ranging from nursing to support staff as well as laboratory technicians.  65% of JCH&L’s patients are Medicare/Medicaid, and this addition is expected to grow Medicare/Medicaid services by nearly 10% from 2022-2026.  Additionally, the subsidy from the transaction will enhance JCH&L’s liquidity in funding ongoing services for the hospital.

Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma (Tulsa, OK)

1304 N. Kenosha Avenue, Tulsa, OK

CFBEO is Feeding America’s designated food bank for the twenty-four county region of eastern Oklahoma centered around Tulsa. In 2019, the food bank distributed a record 28.9 million pounds of food.

In 1981, in response to the rising number of people struggling with hunger, Tulsa’s Neighbor for Neighbor feeding program evolved to become the Tulsa Community Food Bank. Operating from a small, donated warehouse space, in year one the food bank provided food assistance to 25 partner agencies and distributed 90,000 pounds of food, the equivalent of 75,000 meals.

In 2006, the Food Bank opened its current facility, the Donald W. Reynolds Food Distribution Center. That year the Food Bank distributed 7.5 million pounds of food, a record at the time.

Since its founding, the food bank has also steadily grown its service area and has continued to expand the scope of its services. Programs include on-site feeding programs, emergency shelters, emergency food pantries, children and senior feeding programs, veterans’ outreach initiatives, disaster relief and other low-income programs that have a meal component. All of these programs provide food free of charge to people who struggle with hunger in the community.

The food bank’s work also includes direct feeding programs such as Cooking Matters, Food for Kids, and Senior Servings, as well as clinic pantries, mobile pantries, and culinary center and college campus pantries. Collectively the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma coordinates more than 380 direct feeding sites.

In 2019, the food bank distributed a record 28.9 million pounds of food, the equivalent of more than 24 million meals, to the hungry. The food bank distributes food via both direct programs and through 350 partner agencies, located in the 24 counties of eastern Oklahoma that comprise nearly 30,000 square miles and contain a population of more than 1.5 million people.

Despite these ongoing successes, CFBEO’s distribution center has been bursting at the seams for years. At 78,000 square feet, the facility was designed to have the capacity to distribute 20 million pounds of food annually.

In February of 2022, in partnership with Hampton Roads Ventures, Heartland Renaissance Fund and Capital One, Crescent closed on a $16M NMTC financing to construct the new Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

CFBEO will add 66,000 SF to CFBEO’s existing 78,000 SF facility, increasing its design capacity from 20 million pounds of food distributed annually to nearly 52 million pounds of food distributed annually. Even though improved workflows will greatly boost the productivity of CFBEO’s existing workforce, additional hiring will be needed, resulting in nine permanent new positions. Approximately 250 construction jobs will also be generated by the facility expansion component of the Build Hope campaign. A new 12,500 SF food preparation kitchen will enable the growth in prepared meal distribution, and fresher, more nutritious offerings will be made available.