JPMorgan Chase has launched a five-year initiative to revitalize and drive economic opportunity in vulnerable neighborhoods across the nation.

The $125 million Partnership for Raising Opportunity in Neighborhoods (PRO Neighborhoods) initiative will invest in collaborative partnerships and innovative finance models to aid neighborhoods at risk of gentrification or in decline.

Janis Bowdler, head of community development for global philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase
Janis Bowdler, head of community development for global philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase

“It’s a confluence of resources that come together in one space to make neighborhoods thrive and to help low-income households become successful,” says Janis Bowdler, head of community development for global philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase.

Bowdler adds it’s key to provide flexible tools to respond to economic mobility drivers in disadvantaged neighborhoods. For gentrifying neighborhoods, it’s important to make sure affordable options remain and that the long-term residents can benefit from the economic renaissance the community is supporting. For neighborhoods in decline, it’s equally important that residents have access to health and education opportunities, quality retail, and other services to help them thrive.

PRO Neighborhoods, which has been crafted from the lessons of a $33 million pilot program, will focus on three comprehensive areas to address the drivers of economic development in JPMorgan Chase’s footprint: collaborative Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) partnerships, affordable housing seed capital, and data-driven neighborhood solutions.

“Essentially what we are trying to do at the impact level is give leaders the tools and resources they need to address those economic mobility drivers,” says Bowdler.

PRO Neighborhoods will provide regional CDFIs with capital that encourages them to work together and pool resources for building health and education facilities, retail centers, and other service-focused community assets. The annual CDFI competition is now open with new investments to be announced in October. The CDFIs receiving these investments will leverage additional capital to bring the projects to scale.

On the affordable housing side, PRO Neighborhoods will support the development and preservation of affordable housing for low- and middle-income families by providing seed capital for nonprofits that are utilizing new and innovative financial models.

“We recognize that the housing subsidies that we have now produce just so few units compared with the demand,” says Bowdler.

On the data-driven solutions side, PRO Neighborhoods is dedicating research funding to help city leaders and community development organizations better understand the most urgent problems facing vulnerable neighborhoods.

As an example, JPMorgan Chase announced a grant in February for the Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to research the location of affordable housing and the proximity to key economic drivers. This is a tool that could help cities site future affordable housing in neighborhoods with better access to economic opportunities.