Case Study: PROPEL Fund

The Challenge

Year after year, public and private-sector data show that communities of color do not have adequate access to capital to expand homeownership, grow businesses, promote health and create jobs—especially in areas where long histories of discrimination have contributed to persistent poverty.

The lack of financing contributes to significant gaps in health, wealth and opportunity. Black families, for instance, own an average of 23 cents for every $1 of white family wealth, while Hispanic families own an average of 19 cents.* Since 2000, inequality in income, business ownership and homeownership for Black residents has cost the economy $21.3 trillion.**

People living in low-income communities are also more likely to encounter barriers to overall well-being. In fact, there is an annual community investment gap of $156 billion between communities with poverty rates above 20 percent and those with poverty rates below 20 percent.*** As a result, residents with low incomes experience more chronic disease than do more affluent people, and their communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate events. They are more likely to live in food deserts and in medically underserved areas. And they are more likely to be affected by the compounding effects of disinvestment, which can impact the quality of housing, jobs, education, safety and other critical social determinants of health.

The Opportunity

The Providing Real Opportunities for Progress by Edwards Lifesciences (PROPEL) Fund is a $25 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) equity fund that was created to bridge gaps in capital access for high-value economic development plans, particularly for projects designed to promote economic opportunity, racial equity and improved health. The fund reflects the priorities of the federal NMTC program to direct private-sector investment to distressed communities.

Edwards Lifesciences capitalized PROPEL as part of its broader $100 million social impact investment commitment. The fund is the company’s first foray into NMTCs and was the first in what has become a series of Broadstreet-managed NMTC investment funds that are directing more than $130 million to address gaps in health, wealth and opportunity across the country.

Investments and Outcomes

The PROPEL Fund has invested in six projects to fuel more than $87 million in development activity—all in communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment, as well as large populations of people of color. Project partners are creating nearly 400 full-time jobs, alongside hundreds of temporary construction positions, and their projects are expected to offer health services to nearly 50,000 people, most of whom are medically underserved.

Project investments include:

  • Autism Community Network (San Antonio, Texas): Development of a new facility to expand the organization’s diagnostic, therapeutic, and interventional services for children with autism and their families. Located in a community with a 23.5 percent poverty rate, ACN is one of only a handful of providers in the county that provides autism services to people who qualify for Medicaid.
  • Bronx Community Health Network (Bronx, N.Y.): Building a new health facility to offer integrated medical, behavioral and oral health services as well as pharmacy, education, outreach, care coordination and chronic disease management services, all under one roof. More than 75 percent of the network’s current patients have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and the new facility will support 27,000 more patient visits a year than does the network’s existing space.
  • College Park (Jacksonville, Fla.): Revitalizing a deteriorating shopping center to provide health, education, job training and grocery services to a community where low incomes and low food access significantly impact the well-being of residents. Without the NMTC investment, the developer would not have been able to include the grocery store or offer below-market rents to local entrepreneurs, which are vital to its strategy to spur jobs, economic activity, and community-based wealth-building.
  • Native American Health Center (Oakland, Calif.): Redeveloping a vacant lot into a five-story building that includes affordable housing, a cultural community center and a community health center focused on dental care. The dental clinic will support 20,000 more patient visits per year than is possible in NAHC’s existing space. It will serve a community where 39 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
  • PATH Center (Philadelphia, Pa.): Renovating PATH’s former headquarters building so it can offer expanded services for people with intellectual disabilities. The upgraded space means services, like PATH’s Adult Day Program, can be consolidated and offer clients comprehensive support in one place. Clients are all Medicaid-funded, and many live with elderly parents and caregivers who need additional support.
  • Skills Center Collaborative (Tampa, Fla.): Expanding a newly acquired facility to house local nonprofits offering education and employment services, increasing the local capacity to serve 3,000 people. The project is located in a severely distressed census tract, with more than 39 percent of residents living in poverty. Expanded access to skills training is expected to help alleviate the area’s labor gaps, so that more people can access quality jobs and employers can find the workers they need to grow.

Broadstreet NMTC Funds

Broadstreet was founded two decades ago to manage NMTC investments for our parent, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which has the largest allocation of federal NMTCs in the country. In the subsequent years, we drew on that extensive experience to administer NMTC investments for other organizations, as well as to create and manage NMTC investment funds and multi-investor loan funds. Broadstreet offers services ranging from fund modeling and capital raising to investment decision-making, investor reporting and impact measurement.

In the case of PROPEL, the Broadstreet team worked closely with Edwards to identify investment opportunities, structure and close those investments, provide asset management support, and manage NMTC compliance and reporting requirements.

Importantly, results are measured against both financial benchmarks and impact objectives.

PROPEL’s NMTC equity benefits borrowers by closing funding gaps, lowering their cost of capital, rates and offering loan forgiveness at the end of the NMTC compliance period. Specific impact goals include:

  • Expanding access to capital for small businesses and nonprofits, particularly those led by and addressing the needs of low-resource communities and underserved people of color.
  • Helping owners/operators develop new facilities, expand existing ones and offer services that they could not otherwise provide
  • Increasing asset ownership by business owners, particularly with regard to real estate, to help build wealth in under-resourced communities

Construction on the portfolio of PROPEL projects is expected to be completed in 2026.