Russell is a historically Black neighborhood located in Louisville, Kentucky, just west of the central business district. The neighborhood boundaries are S. Ninth Street (east), W. Broadway (south), S. 32nd Street (west) and W. Market Street (north). Russell was once a vibrant and diverse hub of Black-owned businesses that served the neighborhood, created jobs and contributed to neighborhood resilience, and was a center of Black homeownership.

Redlining practices in the early 1900s and urban renewal efforts in the 1950s-60s decimated Russell’s residential and business community, destroying opportunities for generational wealth building. Since then, a host of facially neutral but racially discriminatory institutional and state actions and policy decisions have perpetuated these patterns, keeping families from preserving and building wealth. Over the past several years hundreds of millions of dollars in planned and underway investment are changing the neighborhood, and Russell is poised to experience a neighborhood renaissance. It is essential that these changes are paired with intentional and innovative strategies focused on Black wealth building and investment to prevent displacement of existing residents and businesses.

Russell: A Place of Promise launched in 2018 as a project incubated by Cities United and Louisville Metro Government with fiscal sponsorship by the Community Foundation of Louisville. Through RPOP’s incubation, these partners have provided a variety of resources to support our foundational development.

Fiscal sponsorship refers to a contractual relationship that allows an initiative or a project that lacks its own nonprofit status to advance charitable or other exempt activities with support from a   nonprofit sponsor organization. The Community Foundation's fiscal sponsorship of RPOP has allowed us to seek and receive grant funding, manage grant dollars, and benefit from the support of an existing nonprofit organization as we have grown through our incubation period.

RPOP is working to launch out of incubation and in 2024 will incorporate as a nonprofit, defined and led by Russell residents.

Cities United's Contributions

Development of the Place of Promise (POP) framework and consulting with other cities interested in implementing similar strategies in their community
Access to a national network of Mayors, city leads, young leaders, and organizations working towards safe, healthy, and hopeful communities
Guidance in developing strategies informed and led by the people most impacted including community engagement approaches, organizing principles, and leadership development tools
Staff support, including processing payroll, providing benefits, and managing HR needs
Office space, supplies, technology, communication tools, and other materials

Louisville Metro Government's Contributions

Property, including up to 75 residential sites and the 5-acre property located at 3025 W. Madison Street, directly south of the Louisville Urban League's Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Complex
Ongoing property management of these sites pending RPOP's ability to take ownership
Access to key LMG staff members working in areas connected to RPOP's work
Procurement, including access to LMG's purchasing power for technology, printing needs, and holding contracts or agreements related to properties that remain in LMG's ownership
Staff support, including processing payroll, providing benefits and managing HR needs
Miscellaneous resources including access to mapping services and similar data tools

Community Foundation of Louisville's Contributions

Managing RPOP's grant funds and donations in dedicated accounts
Processing invoices and holding contracts and insurance related to RPOP's work
Providing a staff contact who serves on RPOP's Advisory Board and supports RPOP's administrative needs

RPOP's 4 Roles

We connect residents, faith leaders, community based organizations, and small businesses to resources for stability and growth.
We organize existing resources to best support residents, faith leaders, community based organizations, and business owners in their individual and community wealth building goals.
Gap Fillers
We fill in the gaps residents, faith leaders, community based organizations, and small business owners have identified to reach a collective vision of Black wealth for Russell.
We advance the efforts led by residents, faith leaders, community based organizations, and small business owners to learn, build, lead, and grow Black wealth in Russell.

Our Vision of building Black wealth through investment without displacement includes sharing decision-making and leadership with residents; connecting individuals and families to resources leading to homeownership and traditional and nontraditional business ownership; building pathways and opportunities to strengthen existing Black-owned businesses; creating innovative connections to career-track jobs; and community ownership of neighborhood assets.

RPOP partners to build new housing to increase homeownership in Russell and to provide home repairs for existing homeowners to preserve their ability to pass their homes to future generations. RPOP works to preserve affordability in Russell so existing residents can remain in the neighborhood and benefit from its growth.
Small Business
RPOP hosts a monthly small business breakfast to share resources and foster networking for Black business owners and entrepreneurs and offer a small business accelerator that pairs business-101 curriculum taught by an all-Black faculty with financial support in the form of a friends and family-style investment.
Workforce & Job Placement
RPOP partners to explore innovative programs, policies and practices aimed at creating a more equitable and just economy.
Community Ownership of Neighborhood Assets
RPOP believes that all its investments in Russell should provide multiple options for resident ownership. RPOP's flagship project, a 5-acre development at 30th and Madison Street, will offer commercial and residential opportunities for residents, provide missing goods and services, and offer space for relaxation, recreation and restoration in a space designed by and for the community.

People and Place

Cassandra Webb
Director of Place of Promise Initiative (Cities United), Russell: A Place of Promise Co-Lead
Theresa Zawacki
Executive on Loan
(Louisville Metro Government)
Russell: A Place of Promise Co-Lead
Doneah Marshall
Administrative Support Specialist,
Cities United
Daphne Walker
Communications Outreach Specialist

Founding Board

Jackie Floyd
Dr. Gabe Jones
Charlene Kimbro
Frank McNeil
Ruth Daniels

Promise of People

We believe the people of Russell are assets to their community and our city. They are whole, creative, and capable of maintaining partnerships that lead to equitable investments and build increased levels of Black wealth and ownership. Russell residents not only occupy positions on our team, but their opinions, desires, and necessities are reflected in all decisions as a result of a high degree of community outreach and engagement.

Promise of Place

Our place-based investments are a foundation of our connection with and accountability to the people of Russell. We believe investments in Russell must add more value to the  community than they extract. As an organization committed to building Black wealth, we must fairly balance risks and rewards among all stakeholders, starting with residents, and give options for multiple types of ownership to guard against displacement.

Advisory Board

RPOP's Advisory Board is made up of Russell residents, business owners, community members, and partners. During RPOP's incubation, the Advisory Board participates in meetings and decision making and supports community engagement.

Ruth Daniels

Russell Resident
Rene Douglas

YES, Former Russell Resident
Kevin L. Dunlap

Mary Grissom

Community Foundation of Louisville
Haven Harrington III

Russell Resident
Russell Business Owner
Alice K. Houston
HJI Solutions
Cecoiya Johnson

Byck Elementary School
Lyndon Pryor
Louisville Urban League
Paul Resch

Blacksmith Ironworks
David Shadburne

Park Community Credit Union



Legal Aid
Louisville Urban League
Metro United Way
New Directions
Repair Affair
Perkins & Will Architects
Play Cousins Collective
R.E.B.O.U.N.D. Inc.
The Vision Group
Youth Resistance Collective

Past and Current Funders

Accelerator for America
Brown Forman
Casey Family Programs
Cities United
Club Cedar
Community Foundation of Louisville
Fifth Third Bank
First Harrison Bank
Goodwill, KY
Humana Foundation
Jack Harlow Foundation
James Graham Brown Foundation
Joshua Communtiy Connectors
JP Morgan Chase Advancing Cities
Louisville Independent Business Alliance
Louisville Metro Government
Lousville Metro Housing Authority
LISC Louisville
Metro United Way
Moriah Group
Leaf Clinic
Norton Institute for Health Equity
The Palm Room
Park Community Credit Union
Public Welfare Foundation
Render Capital
The Rockefeller Foundation
Water Front Park
William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust

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