Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC): Ford Foundation, 1979

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



The idea for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) was born in 1979, when a group of Ford Foundation trustees and officials visited community development projects in Baltimore. On their way back to New York, James Ellis, a Foundation trustee, asked Foundation vice president Mitchell Sviridoff what he would do if he had $25 million to spend on helping declining cities. Sviridoff responded with an idea that Franklin Thomas, another of the Foundation’s trustees, had recently suggested: identify competent leaders in 50 to 100 communities around the nation and give them as much money and support as possible.
Sviridoff and Thomas understood that in the case of community development, there were a host of people, residents of deteriorating neighborhoods, who were already passionate about turning things around. At the same time, there was an enormous amount of money available, from organizations cutting across all sectors of American society, for the same purpose. What needed to be done was to connect the two, and, in so doing, to enable the most innovative and capable community leaders to more effectively pursue their goals. . . .



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