Also by Reinvestment Fund
Success Story

Leon Sullivan Energy Retrofit

Reinvestment Fund financing is supporting the Leon H. Sullivan Trust, improving sustainability for its 43-year-old Human Services Center in Philadelphia, PA.

In 1966, when the Zion Non-Profit Charitable Trust was founded by Reverend Leon H. Sullivan and the members of his church, the purpose was simple: help people help themselves. Now known as the Leon H. Sullivan Charitable Trust (the Trust), the organization has continued to support communities of color through education, scholarships for youth, health services and other programs aimed at social uplift.

The Trust is an organization built by the community, for the community. In 1962, Sullivan–who served as minister and community organizer in equal measure–encouraged his North Philadelphia congregation to invest $10 per month for 36 months in a community venture. The goal of this “10-36” plan was to create both a charitable trust and a for-profit arm for income generation. While the group began with 50 investors, 450 more followed in 1965.

Born out of the Progress Movement, the Trust is designed to support the Black community and combat the systemic issues that negatively impact people of color. Its support includes professional training, financial assistance, real estate, and research and development.

The Trust also operates the Human Services Center, prominently located on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. There, the Trust offers affordable space to nonprofit and for-profit organizations that serve the community. The 67,000 square foot facility is the first and largest office building built by African Americans in Philadelphia. It is currently home to 13 nonprofit and for-profit tenants, including health care providers, financial empowerment agencies, and student and youth services organizations. With more than 200 full- and part-time employees, the Center serves 2500-3000 visitors monthly.

Built in 1978, this beacon on Broad Street stands more than four decades strong. Through the years, it has served as a one-stop shop for social and human services, largely for communities of color. Never has it been more important to preserve facilities like the Human Services Center and the services they provide.

COVID-19 disproportionately impacted the health and financial stability of communities of color, both nationwide and in Philadelphia. Black residents face inequities when it comes to access to care, and many Black Philadelphians are employed in essential jobs that make them vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure. The health and human services found at the Center help mitigate the inequities and foster economic empowerment at a time when it’s needed most.

Thanks to financial support through the Pennsylvania Green Energy Loan Fund (GELF)–managed by Reinvestment Fund and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy–the Human Services Center will undergo a series of improvements to increase its sustainability. GELF exists to reduce energy consumption in buildings, promote energy efficiency and conservation, create and retain jobs, stimulate economic development and leverage private investment in clean energy.

Reinvestment Fund provided a $1.3 million loan for the $1.8 million project. The upgrades will consist of a new HVAC system, including boilers and chillers, a new elevator, an upgraded emergency backup generator, and repairs to some of the pathways, sidewalks, and parking at the site. The energy improvements are anticipated to cut energy use from heating and cooling by more than 25%. Energy retrofits will reduce greenhouse gas and pollution impact of the property, benefiting not only the Trust, but the building’s tenants and the surrounding community.

Improving sustainability for facilities like the Human Services Center will help the Trust cement a future for entrepreneurs of color and non-profit organizations that serve communities of color.