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About Us

The LISC Institute for Comprehensive Community Development serves LISC staff, organizations and individuals who partner with LISC, and others working in urban and rural communities across the country by providing training and information about best practices, ideas and news from around the field of comprehensive community development. 

A Comprehensive Approach

In recent decades, the field of community development has evolved beyond single issue, project-based strategies that addressed a narrow range of community needs, but failed to consider the complex mix of challenges faced by residents of low-income neighborhoods.

Comprehensive community development is a more holistic approach that uses deep and abiding citizen engagement to address a spectrum of interconnected needs. Residents and leaders envision a better future; create a definitive plan to accomplish that vision; and recruit local agencies, organizations and institutions into a collaborative partnership that integrates programs and services to improve the quality of life within the community.

Too many of our neighborhoods, having made substantial progress over the last twenty years, are sliding back under the weight of home foreclosures, business failures and job losses. There is a pressing need to advance the state of comprehensive community development in more locations, with deeper effectiveness, than ever before.

There is also, however, a unique opportunity is to build the momentum and effectiveness of the comprehensive approach, caused by the intersection of two phenomena:

  • A growing body of evidence and a track record of proven success of comprehensive community development initiatives that show how this approach can effectively revitalize struggling moderate- and low-income neighborhoods
  • A groundswell of enthusiastically active citizens eager to bring change to where they live and, in doing so, bring change to America.

The LISC Model

LISC's first and largest comprehensive community development effort launched in Chicago in 2003. Since then, LISC has expanded the Building Sustainable Communities program to 23 cities across the country.

Building Sustainable Communities brings sustainable community development to neighborhoods by focusing on five key strategies:

  • Expanding investment in housing and other real estate
  • Increasing family income and wealth
  • Stimulating economic development
  • Improving access to quality education
  • Supporting healthy environments and lifestyles

By interweaving the different but essential capabilities of local government, faith-based groups, charitable foundations and grassroots organizations, this pioneering effort to plan and implement comprehensive community development is delivering results on a large scale. Community-based lead agencies and their partners are transforming neighborhoods into new communities that offer hope, opportunity and a better quality of life. The network and relationships serve as a platform for investment in an impressive array of projects and programs, and leverage literally billions of dollars of additional investment by the public and private sectors.  

Coupling the community development skills and strategic thinking found in the LISC brand of comprehensive community development with the dedication, enthusiasm and organizing acumen of our nation's new activists presents a stunning opportunity to advance the field of comprehensive community development and its positive impact in these cities and in other urban and rural communities across the U.S.

Who We Serve

The Institute serves those who are interested in the practice and theory of community development in our nation's urban and rural centers. It offers a range of programs and services to train, educate and inform community development practitioners, funders, and policy makers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

The network of organizations and institutions involved with LISC’s Building Sustainable Communities programs across the country is broad and deep. Providing resources, information and connections among these diverse and dedicated practitioners, funders, partners and supporting staff is the Institute’s primary mission.

However, the field of comprehensive community development has grown tremendously in the last decade, and our hope is that the work of the Institute will also be useful for the many people who are utilizing the power of this approach to change neighborhoods, including community development practitioners, foundation executives, public agency officials, lenders, financial industry executives, and other private sector decision-makers.

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