Mission & History

LEAF is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to promote human and economic development by providing financing and development assistance to cooperatives and social purpose ventures that create and save jobs for low-income people. Since its founding over 30 years ago, LEAF has invested and leveraged over $112 million, resulting in the creation or retention of more than 10,000 jobs.

LEAF is one of only three Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in the country with a focus on cooperatives. We lend nationally, with a focus on community-owned natural food cooperatives that create high quality jobs and provide access to healthy food in urban and rural communities; low-income cooperative housing developments; and worker-owned firms and other community-based businesses and social enterprises, such as Alternative Staffing Organizations (ASOs). These ASOs have placed over 8,000 low-income people with barriers to employments into temporary or permanent positions.

Additionally, since 2015 LEAF has expanded its services to create a local program in the Boston Area. The LEAF Technical Assistance Program (L-TAP), provides free-of-charge business development services to disadvantaged microentrepreneurs in the Greater Boston Area. In its last fiscal year, LEAF provided over 30 diverse small businesses with high-quality technical assistance. In the current FY, LEAF has added a lending component to provide financing and leverage other sources of growth capital.

LEAF’s development services are provided through partnerships with a range of sector-specific organizations, including other CDFIs, The ICA Group, ROC USA (cooperatively-owned manufactured home parks), National Coop Grocers (NCG), The Food Co-op Initiative, and the Alternative Staffing Alliance. These partnerships allow LEAF to provide exemplary services to our borrowers, helping them to thrive and ensuring they can serve their communities for years to come.

Since 2001, the U.S. Treasury has certified LEAF as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). This certification assures investors that capital invested in LEAF helps the organization carry out its mission of job creation for the benefit of low and low-to-moderate income people.