Citi Foundation's 40 Community Progress Makers Come Together for Final Convening

December 19, 2019
Julie Hodgson, Citi Foundation Program Officer
Kristen Scheyder, Senior Program Officer
Daria Sheehan, Citi Foundation Program Officer

Senior leaders of Community Progress Makers second cohort

In November, the Citi Foundation hosted the senior leaders of 40 of the country's most innovative community organizations. The convening, which spanned three days, is part of the Foundation's flagship program – Community Progress Makers.

First launched in 2015, the Community Progress Makers initiative supports organizations helping to build stronger, more resilient cities that catalyze economic opportunity for all their residents. Over a two-year period, the fund provides core operating support grants, and access to technical assistance and a learning community. What differentiates this program is that it provides organizations that have the potential to achieve outsized impact for low-income communities with flexible support – a commodity that is in high demand but short supply across the philanthropic sector.

Throughout the convening, Community Progress Makers from Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco Bay area, and Washington, DC shared success stories, insights and lessons learned with each other, while reflecting on their collective accomplishments.

Infographic showing the collective impact of Community Progress Makers

On the first day, participants had the opportunity to attend one of several community tours of different NYC neighborhoods. In the South Bronx, the group visited the future home of the Bronx Music Center, a performance venue dedicated to honoring the unique music and cultural heritage of that borough. Another group toured the East Harlem-based Hot Bread Kitchen's commercial kitchen and learned about its successful training program that places immigrant women into culinary jobs. In Brooklyn, the group explored the remarkable transformation taking place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a former naval base that has grown into a vital industrial park where modern manufacturers and entrepreneurs thrive in a tightly-knit commercial community. The new Navy Yard welcomes local nonprofit organizations like Brooklyn Workforce Initiatives, which is training neighborhood residents to qualify for the many attractive jobs created there.

A central theme throughout the convening was "leading equitable growth." New York City Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson shared personal insights on leading racial equity initiatives for systems change; Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green, spoke about social enterprises' use of market-based strategies to fill widening employment and opportunity gaps; and Maya Wiley of the Digital Equity Lab spoke about data, equity, privacy and the rising conflicts between different interests and goals in the tech sector.

Panel discussion with NYC Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson; Maurice Jones, President & CEO of LISC; and Ben Hecht, President & CEO of Living CitiesFrom left: NYC Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson; Maurice Jones, President & CEO, LISC; Ben Hecht, President & CEO, Living Cities

In addition to hearing from outside experts and inspirational speakers, participants led their own sessions and shared the breakthroughs their organizations achieved through the Community Progress Makers initiative. In just two years, the cohort has collectively expanded access to affordable and supportive housing, helped low-income families save millions in household energy costs, assisted entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, and provided thousands of people with job training and employment that will help put them on a path to greater economic equality and mobility.

For more information about the Community Progress Makers fund, visit

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