Understanding What
Community Development Corporations (CDCs) Do

A community development corporation (CDC) is a not-for-profit organization incorporated to provide programs, offer services and engage in other activities that promote and support community development. CDCs usually serve a geographic location such as a neighborhood or a town. They often focus on serving lower-income residents or struggling neighborhoods. They can be involved in a variety of activities including economic development, education, community organizing and real estate development. These organizations are often associated with the development of affordable housing.


Real estate development

  • Affordable housing

Economic development

  • Small business lending
  • Small business technical assistance
  • Small business incubation (i.e. provision of space at low or no cost to start-up businesses)


  • Early childhood education
  • Workforce training

Nonprofit incubation

  • Fundraising for local causes as a corporate donor, public charity, or foundation
  • Financing Housing cooperatives or other cooperatives
  • Fiscal sponsorship of community-basedassociations

Youth and leadership development


    • Sustainable development advocacy
    • Locally-owned business advocacy
    • Environmental justice and Brownfields redevelopment

    Community planning

    • Master planning for retail and community development

    Community organizing

    • Lessening neighborhood tensions
    • Facilitating community and stakeholder participation in local programs and activities
    • Facilitating community access to targeted grants

    In some jurisdictions in the United States, a CDC is by definition targeted towards direct investment in the community, while a “community development advocacy organization” is a category eligible for recognition as a tax-exempt charity or service organization. (Accredited to WikiPedia)

    The quest

    The plan is for us to take our place at the economic table of the United States and worldwide nations by creating resident-led community development corporations CDCs. The principle aims of Neighborhood Commerce Institute International is to give people tools to transform their lives by linking neighborhood residents to the economic opportunities, social networks, and effective services that will improve the lives and well-being of ordinary people, their families, schools, communities and neighborhoods; resulting in neighborhood development and economic growth.A few frequently Asked Questions to help you to move forward in your decision to organize your neighborhood CDC.

    1. What are CDCs?
    Community Development Corporations (CDCs) are typically nonprofit (although there are some for-profit CDCs), community-based organizations focused on revitalizing the areas in which they are located, primarily economically challenged low-income, underserved neighborhoods that have experienced significant disinvestment. They are most commonly in the business of developing affordable housing, they are involved in a range of initiatives and businesses critical to community health such as economic development, sanitation, clean water, streetscaping, waste management, access to good food, and neighborhood planning projects. Many times, they even provide education and social services to neighborhood residents and may include any of the activities listed above in Understanding What CDCs Do.

    2. Who can Start and/or Operate a CDC?
    Individuals, existing organizations, churches, schools, business people, or any like-minded people can start and/or operate a CDS. Your neighbors, your friends, organizations that you are affiliated with, your church, and local businesses are where you will begin to identify like-minded people to share your vision for starting up a CDC in your local neighborhood. If you are familiar with other CDCs venture out to learn about their operations and services in comparison to what you want to offer. If you are not familiar with any, research to identify some; and learn everything that is happening in the geographic area where you want to start a community development corporation to identify the needs of individuals and the community you are targeting.

    3. How are CDCs Funded?
    One of the most common ways community development corporations obtain resources is by seeking grants from foundations, corporations, and individuals that provide direct funding for diverse nonprofit activities. Grant providers have their own locational focus, fields of interest, and type of support they provide. Some grant programs operate on an invitation-only basis, others may accept a Letter of Interest (LOI) and subsequent applications from grantees. Understanding systemized existing governmental programs (grants, cooperatives, contracting, fund matching) from federal, state, county, and local governments are important for the startup CDCs to ensure they do not lose out on chances to secure these resources that are exclusively for low-income individuals, households, neighborhoods, and businesses may prove a basic element to discover better practical solutions for existing community issues. These resources often exclusively serve organizations on a first-come-first-served basis and are not likely to be widely advertised – thereby limiting ACCESS to those for whom the funds are intended.

    4. How can CDCs Benefit the Founders and the Community?

    • Anchoring capital in communities by developing residential and commercial property, ranging from affordable housing to shopping centers and new businesses
    • CDCs board members are typically composed of community residents (and others), allowing for the possibility of direct, grass-roots participation in decision-making for the community
    • CDCs endeavor to improve community conditions by neighborhood organizing to empower residents and gain political power while building economic power
    • Community wealth building benefit individuals, families, businesses, schools and the community at large financially and solve many social problems that lead to crime and poverty.

    5. Why start a community development corporation?
    Funds that have been earmarked and allocated for the building up of under-served Black and others of color communities often never reach those communities because there are no community development corporations in those neighborhoods to request assistance and oversee funds that already exist for change. Funds flow through CDCs nationwide and never reach those they are intended for because they do not know it’s there and ACCESS is only to those who know the funding programs exist – and request it for their neighborhoods. When the funds are not acquired by those whom it is intended; funds are re-allocated / redirected to downtown and others that typically lead to gentrification projects vs. building and rehabbing economically distressed individuals and communities.

    6. Is there a limit to how many CDCs can exist in a city?
    No, there isn’t, but typically there should be one to address the needs of designated neighborhoods because the residents know and understand their own needs and are the most likely to advocate for change in their own neighborhood. Every city and town have designated neighborhoods with boundaries established by their administration / zoning boards etc. Each city or town has planned development for their city that the residents may participate in the development of; therefore, NCI endeavors to assist every neighborhood to own its solutions for themselves in partnership with their local organizations, churches, and city administration to ensure ACCESS to funding and other resources in the transformation of their own neighborhoods.

    7. When is the best time to start a CDC in my neighborhood?
    If your neighborhood is blighted, drug and crime infested, gentrifying, in need of affordable housing, schools are debilitated, food desserts exist, polluted water, environmentally unhealthy due to pure waste management, no thriving businesses in your neighborhood owned by residents in your neighborhood, or anything else that is negatively impacting your community – then the best time to start a CDC in your neighborhood is NOW! Do something and do it NOW! If you procrastinate, nothing good will happen. Find some like-minded folks to team up with and start a CDC in your neighborhood.

    8. What is Neighborhood Commerce Institute International’s contact information?
    Phone: 571.251.5193 – USA