First minority executives tapped as community finance fellows

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Real
estate diversity program, REAP, has named the first fellows to take part in a
new initiative to drive money and know-how into building new communities.

The
pilot Open Access Fellowship Program in Community Development Finance will
provide a pathway for black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) to work
in a sector of real estate finance that can help build new communities and improve the health, education and access to wealth of
economically disadvantaged populations.

 “REAP is proud to help launch the rollout of Open Access, a program that will increase the representation of persons of color in community development finance,” said REAP chief program officer Osayamen Asemota-Bartholomew.

“The
current disproportionately low number of BIPOC professionals in the field both
deprives neighborhoods of the cultural affinities offered by persons who
reflect the ethnicity of the communities served and leaves large groups of
talent unaware of and lacking access to career opportunities. We are glad to
welcome the first round of Open Access fellows, a stellar and dedicated
group.” 

The
community development finance industry, bolstered by the recent reauthorization
of the New Markets Tax Credit Program, offers economic support to low-income
areas in the form of lower than market rate interest loans and other economic
incentives to help support small businesses, housing organizations and other
areas requiring assistance.

The
industry is urgently needed as the nation strains to recover from a pandemic
that disproportionately affected communities of color in terms of health crises
and the ensuing economic devastation that has witnessed unparalleled
unemployment rates, evictions realized and threatened, food deprivation, and
small businesses forced to close or struggle to stay viable.

Yet,
while community development often serves communities of color, it is currently
grossly under-represented by Black and Latinx individuals.

Open
Access is a newly organized group of executive-level individuals led by
co-founders Gina Nisbeth, a director at Citi, and Jeff Monge, managing partner
of Monge Capital.

Open
Access provides paid virtual fellowships as well as online experience,
training, mentorships, and networking sessions to talented professionals of
color seeking careers in community development finance.

The
program is presented in collaboration with Project REAP (Real Estate Associate
Program), the nation’s most successful diversity initiative connecting
professionals to commercial real estate (CRE) for over two decades.

The
group chose MLK Day, January 18, 2021, to announce the selection of 23
professionals for the pilot  Open Access
Fellowship Program in community development finance that will run through Friday,
April 16, 2021.

The fellows were chosen from
a wide pool of candidates spanning the nation from LA and Denver to Chicago,
New Orleans, Newark, New York City and many other major cities.

The Inaugural Open Access Fellows
are:

Fellow Fellowship Headquarters
Trevor Nelson Advantage Capital New Orleans, LA
Anika Wright Advantage Capital New Orleans, LA
Jaquis McCullough Baker Tilly US, LLP Chicago, IL
Melanie McNeely Chicago Community Loan Fund Chicago, IL
Ja’Shar Hartley Cinnaire Lansing, MI
John Moore Classic Lake Consulting Los Angeles, CA
Ed Chatmon Cleveland Development Advisors Cleveland, OH
Christen Richardson Greenline Ventures Denver, CO
Isaiah Williams Greenline Ventures Denver, CO
Chabelli Caceres Monge Capital Newark, NJ
Chima Joseph Monge Capital Newark, NJ
Brianne Andrea Lund Monge Capital Newark, NJ
Giovanni Araujo National Trust Community Investment Corporation Washington, DC
Danielle Salters New Jersey Community Capital New Brunswick, NJ
Jocelyn Moore New Markets Support Company Chicago, IL
Rob Ebanks New Markets Support Company Chicago, IL
Allison Bernstein Novogradac & Company LLP San Francisco, CA
Ashley McMichael Novogradac & Company LLP San Francisco, CA
Jessica Washington Novogradac & Company LLP San Francisco, CA
Nicole Dillard Stonehenge Capital Columbus, OH
Marcus Jones TELACU Los Angeles, CA
Steven McClendon Reinvestment Fund Philadelphia, PA
Desiree Thomas TruFund Financial Services New York, NY

In addition to paid fellowship sponsorships, other programmatic financial sponsors include JPM Chase, U.S. Bank, Citi, PNC Bank, Novogradac, Dudley Ventures, Advantage Capital, NTCIC, and Monge Capital. For more information see www.projectreap.org

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