In 1992, Heron began fleshing out grant programs to find ways to leverage resources to help people help themselves out of poverty.
Our grants during the 1990s supported community organizations fighting poverty on the front lines throughout the United States. We worked in sectors as varied as farm worker housing, childcare and employment for people with disabilities. The concept of “self-help” influenced these early Heron grant programs, and our work on homeownership created a focus on access to assets.
For the first ten years, we made grants to help people build assets in order to build wealth. We supported Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) working on affordable home ownership, small business development and access to capital. We also tried to help the community finance sector develop more capacity and infrastructure, such as standardized performance reporting and efforts to create scalable financing tools.