It’s a big day for Brandon Holmes, the 32-year old director of Peoria LISC, who has been named to Next City’s Vanguard 40 Under 40 for 2014. Holmes, who joined LISC as a Program Officer in 2010 and opened the Peoria office in 2012, will join the other urban leaders who make up the Vanguard’s “Class of 2014” in Chattanooga for an urban affairs summit. “Being part of this year’s Vanguard class gives me the chance not only to contribute to the debate about what cities need, but to learn more deeply about what works in other areas and bring that back to Peoria,” says Holmes.
Peoria LISC chief named one of nation’s top urban leaders
PEORIA (March 27, 2014)—Brandon Holmes, executive director of Peoria’s Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), has been tapped to join an elite group of urban leaders from around the country to discuss strategies that make cities safer, healthier, more vibrant places to live.
Holmes was chosen to be one of Next City’s Vanguard 40 under 40 for 2014, joining an assembly of non-profit directors, city officials, artists, philanthropists, private-sector leaders and others whose work helps drive the direction of their cities. This is the fifth year Next City has assembled a Vanguard class—set to meet next month in Chattanooga to discuss pressing issues—and the 32-year-old Holmes is the first Vanguard from Peoria.
Holmes says the honor reflects the spirit of what’s happening in the city. “I don’t think of this as being about me as much as it is about what we’ve started here,” he said. “Residents, business leaders, public officials, nonprofit leaders—everyone has begun to close ranks to help lift the prospects of low-income families and revitalize the communities where they live,” he said.
Holmes, a native Midwesterner, moved to Peoria from Cincinnati in 2012 to open LISC’s local office here—one of 30 LISC urban program sites around the country. He says he quickly came to love the energy that pulses through places like East Bluff and the South Side, where LISC is focusing the lion share of its revitalization efforts. Now, he spends his days mapping out plans with residents and community leaders, raising investment capital for housing and economic development projects and working on new programs to reduce crime, clean up streets and support youth through recreational programs and job training.
“Nationally, so much of the talk around community development seems to focus on our largest metro areas,” Holmes explained. “But, in many ways, small and mid-sized cities have an even greater need for innovative plans and new investment activity. Being part of this year’s Vanguard class gives me the chance not only to contribute to the debate about what cities need, but to learn more deeply about what works in other areas and bring that back to Peoria.”
Since opening its doors on Adams Street, LISC has made initial grants to neighborhood nonprofits around early-action projects—small-scale efforts that help demonstrate impact. LISC has also invested more than $300,000 in capacity building and operating grants for local non profits, brought LISC’s AmeriCorps program to Peoria, and helped bring in $3 million from the state to spearhead foreclosure relief in hard-hit communities.
“A big part of what we’re doing here is creating coalitions that not only tackle block-by-block challenges but also go after the kind of investment capital that might not otherwise be available to our communities,” Holmes explained. “That’s what LISC does. We’re a catalyst for change. We’ve been doing this work all over the country for more than three decades, and we’re building the kind of momentum here that can make Peoria’s neighborhoods safer and stronger in the years to come.”
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has invested $12.9 billion to build or rehab 298,300 affordable homes and apartments and develop 49 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit www.lisc.org.
About Next City/Vanguard
Next City is a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Each year, Next City selects 40 applicants whose bright ideas for cities, experience in the field and ambition for the future all show great promise to become members of the new Vanguard class. For more on Next City/Vanguard, visit http://nextcity.org/vanguard.