UCSF Launches Community Investment Program to Support Housing and Minority-Owned Small Businesses

3-year Pilot Program Augments UCSF’s Anchor Institution Initiative to Address Health Equity through Community Economic Support

By Lorna Fernandes

UC San Francisco has created its first community investment pilot program, with a $5 million investment for four Bay Area financial intermediary partners to provide housing assistance, employment and small business loans to community members and minority-owned local businesses in San Francisco and the East Bay.

The Community Investment pilot is part of UCSF’s Anchor Institution Initiative, launched in 2019 by UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, to leverage the University’s position as a leading Bay Area health provider and employer to promote health equity for the area’s underserved and under-resourced communities.

The community investment pilot, which is the first program of its type across the University of California system, is a three-year funding commitment for ASIAN Inc.; REDF Impact Investing Fund; Pacific Community Ventures and San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund. The four groups were selected based on their financial standing, as well as their strong ties to businesses and community members who experience structural barriers to opportunities for economic opportunities. These four organizations will use the funding to provide low-interest microloans directly to qualifying applicants in their communities.

“These partners have their fingers on the pulse of the needs in their communities,” said Francesca Vega, UCSF vice chancellor for Community and Government Relations, which oversees the Anchor Institution Initiative. “They were selected for their history and track record of providing economic support in the form of housing, employment and small business development microloans. They’ve proven they are making a difference in their communities and have outlined how the UCSF contribution will enhance their services.”

  • Receiving $1 million as a part of the UCSF Community Investment pilot, ASIAN Inc., a San Francisco-based community development organization that supports the capital needs of socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, will issue $5,000 to $50,000 in start-up loan funding for qualifying housing projects, minority contractors and low- to moderate-income minority business owners. 
  • San Francisco-based REDF Impact Investing Fund (RIIF) will receive $1 million to issue short-term loans of $75,000 to $500,000 to businesses that employ and equip people overcoming barriers to work, such as those recently incarcerated, who have experienced homelessness or are living with mental illness.  
  • Oakland-based Pacific Community Ventures will receive $1.5 million to help launch their Oakland Restorative Loan Fund which provides no fee, 0 percent small business loans to the entrepreneurs often excluded from the traditional financial system. The Oakland Restorative Loan Fund can help combat gentrification and displacement, and support business owners as state and federal grant programs begin to end. 
  • The San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund is receiving $1.5 million to address affordable housing and homelessness in San Francisco and Oakland. 

Wylie Liu, executive director of UCSF Center for Community Engagement and Anchor Institution Initiative, said the timing was critical.

“It was imperative that we launch this pilot before Thanksgiving,” she said, “so Bay Area businesses-owners who qualify can take advantage of this funding as they prepare for a busy holiday season.” 

The program will be overseen by the UCSF Community Investment Subcommittee, which includes UCSF financial leadership as well as external members from organizations across the Bay Area, including PolicyLink, the Mission Economic Development Agency, the SF Federal Reserve Bank and the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative.

The three-year loans, which are supported through UCSF reserve funds, will be repaid to UCSF at a 1 percent annual interest rate by the four pre-approved financial intermediaries. 

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is exclusively focused on the health sciences and is dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF Health, which serves as UCSF’s primary academic medical center, includes top-ranked specialty hospitals and other clinical programs, and has affiliations throughout the Bay Area.