The CITC: An investment in community, a yield of hope

A groundbreaking giving program offers a win/win to donors and the community.

The “up” arrow. It’s the universal sign of success in the business world, a simple, graphical indicator that investments are paying off, capital is rising and the year-end bonus is still very much in play. When the up arrow flashes on the Board Meeting PowerPoint, everyone breathes easier.

But what if that arrow represented something more than dollars or shares or holdings? What if the investment was in the lives of people?


Three years ago, Anna and Sam fled.

Violence was ravaging their home country in Central America, forcing them to seek refuge in the United States.

They arrived in Boston, forced to build brand new lives in a brand new country. They brought with them specific job skills from their previous lives—Anna as an office manager, Sam as a construction worker. But as they soon found out, starting from scratch can be debilitating.

That’s when they connected with Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp. (JPNDC), a United Way partner agency and one of the Community Development Corporations designated to receive funding through the Community Investment Tax Credit program (CITC).

At JPNDC, Anna and Sam participated in the Family Prosperity Initiative, which provides job readiness and family financial skills training. They worked one-on-one with employment specialists to build their skills and develop best practices to seek and secure employment.

“They were both seasoned workers and have some English proficiency,” says Sally Swenson, Fundraising and Communications Director for JPNDC. “As with most of our job seekers, however, the process of finding work in this country was unfamiliar and intimidating. Our staff helped them build their confidence with workshops, practice interviews, and peer support. We worked with them to assess their own strengths and develop career plans with short- and long-term goals.”


And this is why the CITC exists. Behind its intricate name is a simple concept: offer donors the chance to make high-impact gifts that will generate real, tangible results in the community, while returning a generous tax credit that will pay off nicely when it’s time to file those returns.

The CITC delivers a 50% refundable Massachusetts state tax credit and up to a 35% standard federal tax deduction (depending on your tax bracket). Since the CITC kicked off in 2014, United Way’s donors have given over $2.4 million to support Community Development Corporations across the state.

“The CITC gives our donors a tremendous tax benefit, all the while having a meaningful impact on our community,” says Lisa Rowan-Gillis, Chief Development Office for United Way of Mass Bay. “For example a $10,000 CITC donation has an out-of-pocket cost to donors of approximately $1,500 – an incredible and truly unmatched saving of roughly 85%. This gift will go straight back into the communities who need our support the most.”


Two of those better futures belong to Anna and Sam. Earlier this year, Anna began working as a housekeeper at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Sam is working full-time job in property maintenance, earning a competitive wage with benefits. But this isn’t the terminus for their careers—Anna is taking English classes at Bunker Hill Community College and volunteers with JPNDC to hone her office management skills and Sam is enrolled in an HVAC training program.

For these two people, who left behind everything and arrived with nothing, the good will of donors and the good work of the community intersected to create opportunity, to create hope,

For Anna and Sam, the arrow is pointing up.

Learn more about the Community Investment Tax  Credit.