LIIF’s Anti-Racism Journey
For decades, LIIF has worked predominantly in communities of color, yet we grapple with the fact that despite this, people of color continue to be most acutely impacted by deep, persistent inequities. LIIF has come to understand that these inequities persist because they are systemic and compounding. Traditional capital and financial markets which CDFIs and LIIF rely on have been rooted in White supremacy and, both intentionally and inadvertently, limited and continue to limit access to opportunity for communities and people of color.
To address these inequities, LIIF has adopted a new mission and vision of communities of opportunity, equity and well-being for everyone in the United States. We have centered racial equity within our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, identifying lending as our primary vehicle for impact, and in turn our new impact framework. And we are committed to driving $5 billion in investments over the next decade to advance racial equity.
LIIF recognizes that we still have a lot of work to do internally to achieve our mission. We are continuously working to be bolder, more intentional, more diverse, and more proactive in how we speak, hire, work, lend and partner.
To keep us on track, LIIF has committed to four fundamental principles:
- Seek out, listen to and respond to the voices of communities and people of color
- Institutionalize the internal and external changes we make
- Develop and implement clear mechanisms for accountability
- Collaborate, contribute to and learn from others’ anti-racism journeys
We are developing a new impact framework and decision-making tool which guides us to lending and programs that support access, improved outcomes, and power and agency for people of color. We have a social justice and racial equity working group comprised of staff from across the organization, representing different identities and professional roles; and we participate in similar external groups with our partners. We are developing new products and initiatives that explicitly seek to fill gaps caused by racial inequities by having more flexible underwriting criteria, and we are investing our own financial resources as well as fundraising to make this happen. We are working to develop clearer mechanisms for accountability.
When you center communities that face the deepest inequities, all communities benefit and see improved outcomes and increased opportunity. LIIF is committed to leveraging our resources, listening to and working in solidarity with communities of color, pushing our partners and funders, influencing public policy, and expanding and institutionalizing this work.