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MacArthur Foundation backs Self-Help credit union and ‘community-led solutions’ for Chicago

ImpactAlpha, August 25 – The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation is lending North Carolina-based Self-Help Ventures Fund $15 million to support the integration and expansion of recently-acquired Seaway Bank in Chicago.

Seaway Bank and Trust started in Chicago in 1965 to help the city’s black residents open bank accounts and secure mortgage and business loans. It was bought by Self-Help, a credit union, in 2017 after being shut down by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.  

MacArthur Foundation’s low-interest loan to Self-Help is part of a larger effort to bolster Chicago’s communities by driving economic opportunity and equity. “A more peaceful city requires urgent attention to people and places that are most affected by violence,” MacArthur’s Julia Stasch said in a statement. “It also demands long-term investment in organizations and efforts that get at the root causes of violence, including racial and economic inequity, disinvestment, and isolation.”

The loan is the foundation’s seventh round of funding to Self-Help in the past 30 years. It has committed $37.5 million in both program-related investments and grants to Self-Help, including a $15 million loan to Self-Help and non-profit organization The Resurrection Project. That loan allowed the organizations to acquire Second Federal Savings and Loan, which primarily served immigrant communities on Chicago’s West Side.

MacArthur also provided grants to a dozen community organizations and coalitions addressing challenges including job training for previously incarcerated individuals and veterans to conflict mediation.

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