Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:52 pm
LISC Milwaukee last night launched a new real estate grant fund called the Dr. Mark Eppli Catalytic Venture Fund.
The fund, announced at LISC’s annual Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation event, will be available solely to alumni of Marquette University’s Associates in Commercial Real Estate program, which is an educational program for minorities that want to pursue careers in the commercial real estate industry. The fund was named in honor of Eppli, who started the ACRE program and is leaving Marquette at the end of this school year.
So far, LISC has raised about $110,000 for the fund. Wells Fargo and an anonymous donor each contributed $25,000; Associated Bank, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and The Mandel Group each gave $10,000+; Cinnaire, Forward Community Investments, Town Bank and U.S. Bank each contributed $5,000; and Greater Milwaukee Committee, LISC executive director Donsia Strong Hill and Hatch Staffing Services each gave between $1,000 and $4,000.
Strong Hill hopes to grow the fund to $200,000 within the next 12 weeks, so it’s ready to begin making revolving grants when the current ACRE class is finished.
“We were targeting $100,000 and we reached $110,000 by last night, and so we’ll be conducting an appeal to ACRE alumni graduates to ask if they would support the fund,” Strong Hill said. “If you think about the average revolving grant being about $25,000 at a max, we obviously could use much more.”
The revolving grants would be awarded to ACRE graduates pursuing a development project for architecture fees, survey fees, legal analyses, city permitting fees and other startup costs. Once the projects are up for construction financing, LISC would ask the developer to return the grant to keep the fund going, she said.
LISC has two other funds it operates similarly, and those have a good repayment track record, Strong Hill said.
“We’re really trying to be very intentional in being prepared to support these graduates and alumni to go forward,” she said. “It’s quite rewarding to meet other ACRE alumni and hear about the projects that they want to do and we want to be able to be a resource.”