$3M in Loans to Help More Philly Residents Jumpstart Their Development Careers

A Reinvestment Fund investment makes it possible for graduates of any Jumpstart program in the city to obtain easy access to capital to fund their first projects.

jumpstart philly funding announcement infill rehab in east germantown

Infill projects like this rehab on East Chelten Avenue in Germantown restore rundown houses and return them to the tax rolls. Jumpstart graduates specialize in projects like this, and thanks to a $3 million Reinvestment Fund investment, more of them will get financing for their first projects. | Photo: Sandy Smith

Does becoming your own rehabber appeal to you? Would you like to follow in the footsteps of revivalists like Rachel Street and Kelly Straka? Do you believe you have what it takes to make your own neighborhood a better place to live, one house at a time? Or maybe you have ambitions of wholesale transformation, emulating the duo who launched Bloyd Street Capital by rebuilding almost an entire block of houses at once.

If you live anywhere west of the Schuylkill or in a broad swath of North Philly stretching from Hunting Park to Brewerytown, you now have a chance to Jumpstart your desire with a bankroll after taking a basic training course.

That’s because the Reinvestment Fund has made available $3 million in funding for project loans through Jumpstart Philly, the latest offshoot of the Jumpstart network.

Helping residents be the change in their neighborhoods

Andy Rachlin, managing director of the Reinvestment Fund, described the commitment as a means to counter the ill effects of gentrification.

“I suspect that when people talk about ‘gentrification,’ they use that word to mean a lot of different things,” Rachlin said at the Oct. 30th news conference announcing the investment. “But one thing I think it often means is that growth in a given neighborhood isn’t being driven by people in and from that neighborhood. They aren’t designing the change, and in too many ways, they aren’t the beneficiaries of the change either.

“And that’s what we like about the Germantown model — that it offers people the tools and the capital to effect their own change. We hope that what we’ll see with this investment is a new generation of entrepreneurs building and earning and growing wealth in their own communities.”

At the outset, Jumpstart Philly loans will be available to graduates of the five Jumpstart programs that were launched in North, West and Southwest Philadelphia last year with seed money from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and a grant from the Barra Foundation.

jumpstart philly funding announcement bloyd street capital renovation

Hundreds of small developers are turning trash to treasure the way Bloyd Street Capital partners Brian Grimes (left) and Travis Robert-Ritter did through the Jumpstart programs in Germantown and Kensington. The Reinvestment Fund money will enable graduates of the other Jumpstart programs to do the same. | Photo courtesy Bloyd Street Capital

Enabling the small fry to compete with the big dogs

If the experience of Jumpstart West Philly co-founder Tya Winn is any guide, the additional loan money should be snapped up pretty quickly by eager would-be developers. Within a week of launching its website for submitting applications for the training program last year, her group had received 190 applications. 77 West Philadelphia residents to date have gone through the training program.

Winn said that aspiring West Philadelphia developers faced an additional challenge in getting their first projects off the ground: They’re competing against bigger fish in an increasingly hot neighborhood. “They were competing against cash buyers, and prices were really high in the neighborhood because it was already beginning to change because of other real estate pressures around it. So we’re really excited that TRF has boldly stepped up to meet this challenge.” The loan funding will enable Jumpstart West Philly graduates to compete more effectively against outside buyers for properties.

To date, nearly 900 people have gotten their start in the development business through the various Jumpstart programs. The original Jumpstart Germantown program has made $15 million in loans to its graduates to date, financing more than 150 redevelopment projects in Germantown and Mt. Airy at an average loan amount of $111,000. The loans cover 85 percent of the project costs.

Local money fueling local revitalization

To date, 99 percent of all Jumpstart loan recipients live in the Greater Philadelphia area, and 79 percent live in the city. The programs favor those with some sort of residential or employment tie to the neighborhood where they want to pursue projects, but anyone can apply to any of the programs save Jumpstart West Philly. Because of the high level of interest and demand in its area, that program restricts participation to those who live in, work in, or have established ties to West Philadelphia in general and the West Philadelphia Promise Zone in particular.

Graduates pursuing projects in the territories of Jumpstart Hunting Park, Jumpstart Tioga, Jumpstart North Philly West, Jumpstart West Philly and Jumpstart Southwest will apply for loans from Jumpstart Philly. Graduates planning to rebuild houses in Germantown or Mt. Airy can apply for funding through Jumpstart Germantown, and Kensingtonians can pursue loans through Jumpstart Kensington, which is sponsored by Impact Services, the local community development corporation, and Shift Capital, another local impact investment firm.

Jumpstart Philly ultimately aims to make these loans available for projects in just about every part of the city. Jumpstart Germantown administrator Angie Williamson said that Jumpstart Philly is pursuing additional sources of funds to achieve this goal. This means that someday in the near future, you too may be able to get a bankroll from the program Philly Mag named “Best Way to Become Your Own Rehabber” this year.

For more information about Jumpstart Philly, visit its website.

Updated Nov. 8th, 1:47 p.m., to properly identify the two sponsors of Jumpstart Kensington.