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)
  • Education
    • 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
  • Advocacy
    • 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 advocacyorganization” is a category eligible for recognition as a tax-exempt charity or service organization.