A Canadian Bank That Supports U.S. Housing Projects for Low-Income Families

The Canadian lender TD Bank was one of the good guys during the housing boom. It didn't gorge itself on subprime loans and end up in the crosshairs of government investigators. The bank prides itself on being a responsible company, and puts out an impressive corporate responsibility report discussing its work. Among other things, its philanthropic arm, the TD Charitable Foundation, funds in the housing sector, giving away $2.5 million a year in a competitive grant award program called "Housing for Everyone."

Rather than give money to an intermediary nonprofit, like Habitat for Humanity, the foundation gives money directly to community organizations that are seeking to build. With $2.5 million to give away, they provide it in $100,000 chunks to affordable housing projects. This year's giveaway is directed at the "preservation of rental housing units for families with children" whereas last year's was focused on "stabilizing communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment."

The focus on families means that the TD Foundation is looking favorably on projects that address the needs of families—things like access to parks, transportation, shopping and schools. Preferential treatment also goes to projects with features attractive to families such as on-site day care and community space.

TD Bank Group is twice as large in Canada as it is in the U.S., with roughly 57,000 Canadian employees and 27,000 American employees. It also has offices in Europe and Asia-Pacific. Since 2002, when TD started its foundation, it has awarded $119 million to a wide variety of causes from outdoor classroom support learning to financial literacy and education. Its work in "creating opportunities for young people" is directed to Canada, whereas its affordable housing work is focused on the United States.

The TD Foundation looks for ways to invest in initiatives that touch on two or more of its giving prioritieslike the outdoor classroom support learning, which is considered both environmental and educational. Currently, it is doing innovative work with financial literacy tools for children, and it has a long history of supporting Aboriginal communities in Canada.

But in the U.S., its focus is mainly housing. These housing grants are focused exclusively on the East Coast of the U.S., with qualifying metro areas that run from Florida to Maine. Grant-seekers: Make sure you check the list here.

The Housing for Everyone program is in its eighth year and going strong. The TD Charitable Foundation has invested nearly $12.2 million in the program since its inception and estimates that it has helped to create or maintain nearly 10,000 affordable housing units.

One of last year's winners was the Fairthorne in Philadelphia, a senior living complex for folks age 62 and older whose incomes are under $33,000 for a single and $38,000 for a couple. Other grants have been awarded for renovation of foreclosed homes in Gainesville, Florida, among other places, helping to revitalize neighborhoods hit hard by the Great Recession.

This year's recipients are set to be announced in Mid-November.