CDCs are neighborhood-level, nonprofit organizations that implement community development projects ranging from the development of affordable housing and community centers to job training and health services. Community development corporations emerged from what were called community action agencies in the 1960s. These organizations were created to build the capacity of low-income communities as part of the War on Poverty. CDCs range in size and focus and are found in many, but by no means all, neighborhoods across the country. They often function as real estate developers, dealmakers, and intermediaries between community-based service providers, public agencies, and investors like banks, philanthropic organizations, and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). The most recent national survey of CDCs found that there were more than 4,600 nationwide. The National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) and Practitioners Leveraging Assets for Community Enhancement (PLACE) are leading CDC trade associations.
CDCs are located in the low-income communities that they serve. Professional staff operates CDCs with oversight from advisory boards that include neighborhood residents. It is important to note that while CDCs are 501(c)(3) nonprofits, they self-identify as CDCs; there is no discrete tax classification for the category. The work of CDCs is primarily funded through state and federal grants, but the groups can receive funding through Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), intermediary organizations, and philanthropic organizations.