July 24, 2021

Community First

Impact Stories

up angle of a house with a porch
up angle of house with a porch


Community First, Inc. (CFI) offers vital services to distressed inner-city Milwaukee neighborhoods by managing rehabilitation projects to ensure that families are provided professional, insured, licensed and timely contractor services. In terms of social impact, you would be hard-pressed to find an organization that delivers such life-altering services for clients, and for no out of pocket cost to the homeowner. CFI serves moderate- to low-income families—many on the brink of losing their homes—in one of the most depressed housing markets in the state.

Formed in 2011 to keep alive work that had previously been done as the Community Development Center (a program of the YMCA) CFI provides substantial repairs such as roofing, mechanical work, lead abatement and other costly home repairs, and in doing so helps to curtail foreclosures while helping to maintain property values and restore homes to a “code violation-free” status.


With a proven track record, the new organization was granted CDBG funding from the City of Milwaukee to cover most of its costs. However there was a six-month lag in disbursement of the funds, leaving CFI with no cash on hand to establish an office, pay staff, and cover renovation costs. As a new organization, it was unable to get a loan from traditional lending sources for working capital to allow it to continue until the grant funds were available. A line of credit of $100,000 from FCI enabled Community First to start covering payroll and office expenses and the organization was able to move forward.

“If not for FCI stepping up to help our first-year agency, we would have been dead in the water, and could not have ultimately impacted the residents that we did”, says Rafael Garcia, Community First’s executive director.

woman smiling outside
purple house exterior with wood accent for porch


Since line of credit was extended in 2012, Community First has completed more than 30 projects annually, and continues to build on its record of changing the lives of the families it serves. Learn more about Community First, Inc. and the important work it is doing strengthening neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

Financing from FCI allows a Milwaukee provider of high-quality early learning build new classrooms and a state-of-the-art healthy kitchen, which will not only provide healthy meals for students but also help families learn to prepare nutritious meals at home.

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Read more about how to become an FCI borrower and how we work to direct our funds so as to help eradicate socioeconomic and racial inequities across the state.
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