A community development corporation (CDC) is a non-profit community-based organization that serves money-poor families and neighborhoods.

CDCs are formed by residents, small-business owners, congregations, and other local stakeholders. Some individuals work full-time jobs, then work at the CDC part-time. For others, the CDC is their full-time job.

A CDC helps a community address poverty and its symptoms. It is a tool the community can use to decide what and how to improve living conditions.

For example, many CDCs build affordable housing and create jobs for area residents. Jobs are often created through small-business loans or commercial business projects. Some CDCs also create programs that: tutor children after school, care for senior citizens, organize neighborhood watches, mobilize residents to affect local, state, or national laws.

Much of a CDC's strength comes from its community-based focus. The term community-based means that people who do not live in the neighborhood will not control the work that occurs there. When used, this term is a commitment to justice and a promise to community residents.

A CDC is located in the community it serves, and staffed by residents. At least half of CDC Boards of Directors must be area residents. This model means that CDCs tailor projects and programs to the communities needs, not their own.

History proves that police, government, private, and non-profit forces monitor money-poor communities more than money-rich areas. In spite of good intentions, this surveillance is a form of control, and it can have devastating affects.

For example, studies from places like the Harvard Civil Rights Project show that illegal drug use in rich neighborhoods is equal and sometimes greater than it is in poor areas. But, due to un-equal search and seizure laws and policies, more poor people are arrested for possession of illegal drugs than rich. This means that it is not only drug use, but income that decides whether one person is free while another is in prison. Skin color is another factor that adds to this injustice in the United States, and cannot be ignored.

Like any non-profit agency, a CDC relies on grants, loans, and other forms of aid from government, private companies, foundations, or individuals to help fund their activities. Some CDCs have been successful at creating for-profit ventures that fund their non-profit, work.

CDC's are always looking for help. Contacting the CDC of interest is the easiest way to get involved.