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Baton Rouge Receives $5 million from JPMorgan Chase’s AdvancingCities Challenge to Implement the Plank Road Masterplan

BATON ROUGE, LA., October 26, 2020 — Build Baton Rouge is a recipient of a $5 million award from JPMorgan Chase’s 2020 AdvancingCities Challenge, a $500 million five-year initiative to drive inclusive growth and greater economic opportunity in cities.

Baton Rouge is one of seven winning cities in the 2020 AdvancingCities Challenge. The competition supports collaborative and imaginative solutions to complex systemic challenges such as racial inequity and income. This year, JPMorgan Chase’s challenge accepted over 150 proposals from 78 communities spanning 35 states. Along with Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, MN, Boston, MA and Philadelphia PA have also announced their 2020 grant awards.

Build Baton Rouge’s 2020 AdvancingCities award will help fund the Plank Road Masterplan. The project includes programs that will eliminate blight, grow small businesses, and preserve housing affordability in North Baton Rouge. To accomplish these goals and deliver the grant’s objectives, Build Baton Rouge has partnered with Metromorphosis, TruFund Financial Services, and Co-City Baton Rouge.

The partners make up the Baton Rouge Collaborative and aim to:
● develop a grocery-anchored mixed use development with over 40 affordable housing units on the new bus rapid transit line;
● renovate a 3,500 sq. ft historic building into a Food Incubator that will provide commercial kitchen space, deliver fresh food and offer job training;
● provide financial and technical support to 15 new and existing minority-owned businesses;
● upgrade 15 building facades along the Corridor;
● transform a 4,000 sq. ft vacant lot into a community pocket park; and
● preserve housing affordability through the formation of a Community Land Trust

“This second year of the AdvancingCities Challenge was more competitive than the first, garnering 150 submissions from 35 states,” said Erika Wright, head of philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase in Louisiana. “We chose the Build Baton Rouge Collaborative because the Plank Road Masterplan embodies everything we look for in the AdvancingCities Challenge. It tackles big problems by beginning with small, impactful efforts. It’s including community members throughout the process. It’s unapologetic about advancing racial equity and closing the gaps that limit opportunity. JPMorgan Chase is thrilled about this partnership and excited to see how the Plank Road Masterplan will enhance the lives of generations to come.”

The collaborative will implement the Plank Road Masterplan over the course of three years, aiming to use place-based development principles that recognize existing community assets while prioritizing the community’s expressed needs for change. “This partnership features deep technical expertise, authentic community connections and a rigorous race and class consciousness…that ensures the delivery of components of the plan while centering the community’s voice and making measurable change,” said Christopher Tyson, President and CEO, Build Baton Rouge. “It also has the credibility to unite people across a variety of divides.”

Tyson invites community members to join the Collaborative in imagining an unprecedented future for North Baton Rouge. What was once a thriving and vibrant part of town, the Plank Road Corridor has since been overcome by underdevelopment, poverty, blight and crime. In a community that is 97% Black with 37% of households living below the poverty line, Build Baton Rouge hopes to utilize the AdvancingCities award as a catalyst for long-term restoration to the Plank Road Corridor. In 2018, JPMorgan Chase awarded Build Baton Rouge $100,000 to support initiatives in the Plank Road Masterplan. Tyson says that the redevelopment funding Baton Rouge is beginning to see is an indicator that even non-residents are recognizing the value of our community. “Baton Rouge offers ample opportunities for innovative approaches to advancing racial equity and the impacts of systemic disinvestment. Our AdvancingCities award validates that great things are underway and we are a community worth fighting for.”

About AdvancingCities
AdvancingCities is a $500 million initiative that combines JPMorgan Chase’s lending capital, philanthropic capital and expertise to make investments in cities. The program consists of two key features, the AdvancingCities Challenge and large-scale investments in cities.

The 2020 AdvancingCities Challenge leveraged lessons learned from six years of hosting the PRO Neighborhoods competition and the first year of the AdvancingCities Challenge, continuing to emphasize the importance of collaboration, strong leadership, and bold and innovative approaches to help ensure that access to capital and opportunity is more widely shared by diverse communities. This year’s combined challenge sourced solutions that embodied three key factors:

● A powerful vision for the future shaped by deep community engagement and a shared understanding of goals and priorities to ensure alignment across partners;

● Strong leadership and collaboration among a diverse set of actors with unique authority and resources to drive sustainable change; and

● Innovative approaches that are data-driven and evidence-based and that move beyond “business as usual” to change the trajectory of communities that are currently being left behind.

The winning AdvancingCities Challenge initiatives will have access to a wide array of JPMorgan Chase resources, including data and research, employee expertise, and global network.

To learn more about AdvancingCities visit

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $3.2 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands.
Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at

About Build Baton Rouge
Build Baton Rouge began in 2007 as the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority and changed its name in 2019 with the mission to bring people and resources together to promote equitable investment, innovate development and thriving communities across Baton Rouge. The Authority began with a focus on developing the city’s urban neighborhoods and has grown that vision into a more direct engagement with the realities of racial and spatial stratification in Baton Rouge. After several years of dormancy, Mayor Broome revived the agency and in 2017 expanded the Authority’s role to include oversight over Baton Rouge’s community development programs funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Authority currently has a staff of 12 and is actively rebuilding its presence in the local community and its voice in matters related to equitable community development. The Authority’s revival comes as Baton Rouge confronts a number of challenges that will determine the city’s future course. Baton Rouge has been dubbed “a tale of two cities,” a reflection of the divergence in quality of life and quality of place between North and South Baton Rouge.
Over the past ten years the Authority has attempted to bridge this gap through targeted planning efforts and investment intended to reverse the patterns of disinvestment and stimulate growth. These efforts deployed and leveraged over $80 million to create $300 million in projects, including 863 affordable housing units and 3,400 jobs.

The Authority has also led comprehensive planning efforts in five urban neighborhoods, including Ardendale, the centerpiece of a $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods grant awarded in 2019. The Authority has also convened federal, state, and local stakeholders and partners to push for transit-oriented development in the Plank Road corridor, the city’s most blighted and disinvested. Those efforts led to a $15 million federal grant award for Louisiana’s first Bus Rapid Transit system which is currently under development.

For more about Build Baton Rouge and AdvancingCities, follow #imaginePlankRoad and @buildbatonrouge across all social channels or visit

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