USDA Launches Uplift America Partnership

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives from National Rural Water Association recently attended the launch of Uplift America, a new USDA partnership designed to increase investment in the nation’s poorest rural communities.

Uplift America is a new public-private partnership that aims to boost investment in poor, rural communities to improve employment, education, health and housing. Uplift America will offer a combination of low-interest loans, grants and loan guarantees to community lenders and Community Development Financial Institutions.

“Uplift America is an innovative approach that holds the potential for greatly increasing investment in rural communities that need it most,” Lisa Mensah, Under Secretary of USDA Rural Development, said in a release.

A central part Uplift America is an amendment to the USDA’s Community Facilities Direct Loan program that allows Community Development Financial Institutions to apply for low-cost, long-term loans. CDFIs are private financial institutions that provide financial services to individuals, non-profits and small business for the purpose of improving their communities. Uplift America will provide additional capital to these institutions and their community improvement programs.

Uplift America also offers loan guarantees that cover interest and principal payments for the first five years on the loans from the USDA.

The USDA is already directing up to $500 million for loans for CDFIs so they can re-lend the money to support community programs and infrastructure. The Community Facilities Direct Loan program currently offers loans at 2.75% interest for terms up to 40 years.

“These long term, low-cost loans may be used to finance health centers, school buildings and other infrastructure in rural areas experiencing high levels of poverty and decades of disinvestment,” Mensah said.

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