Dear Friends, 

Earlier this year, amidst a global pandemic and civil unrest, the organization I co-founded quietly turned 25 years old. Since 1995, East LA Community Corporation has been dedicated to serving the residents of Los Angeles’ Eastside. It doesn’t feel like too long ago that we – an urban planner, attorney, community organizer, and real estate developer – decided it was up to us to form an organization that would advocate for economic and social justice in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. As we celebrate 25 years of ELACC’s impact on our community, I remember our ambitious dream, and as ELACC president am inspired by my team’s tenacity as we launch into the next chapter of our work. 

2020 has been a challenging year for many reasons. We’ve been through ups and downs as an organization and have had to make some hard choices this year. The COVID-19 pandemic still looms large and we continue to change the way we interact with community members in this new era of social distancing. 

However, ELACC is resilient and our dedicated staff innovates creative ways to bring high-quality services to our tenants and neighbors. Our Community Wealth & Services team continues to provide a wide slate of financial capability programming like homeownership workshops, health and wellness classes, and our monthly food pantry. Read more about their work below. 

I’m also happy to share that we continue to make progress on affordable rental and homeownership units for families on the Eastside. See below for a breakdown of 2020, by the numbers. 

All this work could not have been possible without the hard work of our dedicated staff and our generous supporters throughout the years. We are looking forward to moving ahead with the same passion and vision my co-founders and I exhibited 25 years ago. ¡Adelante!

With gratitude, 
Manuel Bernal

Can we count on you?

In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are looking for 25 supporters to become Friends of ELACC and make a monthly gift of $25. Your donation will help us continue to strengthen our work and address the changing needs of families in our community. Make a gift to ELACC and advance our mission of developing affordable housing and economic development opportunities on the Eastside. Will you support our efforts? 

Special words from our founders 

Reflections on ELACC’s 25th Anniversary

By Maria Cabildo and Joaquin Bernal

Has it been 25 years? Wow, it feels like last week that we signed our incorporation documents and prepared our first funding application. When I left ELACC in 2015, after serving as its leader for nearly sixteen years, I often referred to the organization as something akin to my first-born child. I knew it was necessary for it to go on without me. Today, I am as proud of ELACC as I am of my own children. These last five years, I have watched it from a distance and at times felt deep pangs of sadness and moments of joy as it went through the kinds of growing pains that are so normal for organizations. Read more.

25 years 

By Manuel Bernal and Joaquin Bernal 

Our 25th anniversary is an important milestone. The reality is that not many organizations are able to survive five years, and the fact that an organization like ours that has survived for twenty-five years is something to be proud of and celebrated. It’s certainly well-deserved, as the work accomplished over the past twenty-five years is tremendous and has changed the community in so many ways. I’d like to give my thanks to the many ELACC staff, both past and present, who have made such a huge imprint and have, overall, made the community a much better place. Read more.

Promoting financial empowerment in our community

We introduced our Community Wealth Department in 2001 to help create pathways to homeownership for low-income families on the Eastside. ELACC created foreclosure prevention classes and resident capacity building as a strategy to help families preserve the assets and wealth they worked hard to build. Nearly two decades later, our slate of financial and homeownership education and counseling programming still play an integral role in how we promote financial empowerment in our community.

ELACC’s reputation for delivering impactful financial services to our community encouraged our now Board Treasurer, Daniel Rodriguez, to join ELACC as a Housing Counselor in 2008. At the time, predatory lending practices locked countless Eastside residents into unsustainable mortgages as the foreclosure crisis was beginning to devastate local families. Daniel was soon promoted to Director of Community Wealth and began growing the department to expand our services to include products and programs that helped more than just homeowners, adding financial counseling and engaging in local and federal consumer protection advocacy efforts.

“We understood that what our community really needed was a comprehensive strategy to help residents not only navigate the complex processes required to save their homes or part from them with dignity, but programming to help build and sustain wealth and policy advocacy to change the systems that created economic instability at the root,” said Rodriguez.
In 2010, Daniel hired our current director, Elba Schildcrout, to serve as a Foreclosure Prevention Counselor. Five years under her leadership, the department’s services now include financial coaching for small businesses and emerging entrepreneurs, permit application assistance for street vendors, matched savings accounts, and peer lending circles that allow participants to build credit safely. Elba also oversees our services to our tenants and neighbors, including social and wellness programs like our monthly food pantry program, online yoga classes, and new this year, a virtual flu season workshop.

“Ten years later, I am still with ELACC because I see myself and my family in the people we help. I was raised by a single mother and entrepreneur who supported four kids on her own while running a small business,” said Schildcrout. “When I work with a community member struggling to build their business and care for their family, I remember what it was like growing up in a single room with five people—I lived in a lot of the same conditions folks here experience. I want to have an impact on people like me.” 

For more information on our services and information on how to register, please visit our website.

Follow our 25th anniversary online!

Join the conversation online as we celebrate 25 years of impact. Share with us your favorite memory of ELACC or of being an ELACC supporter. Do not forget to use the hashtag #ELACC25!