Shelley Sylva is the head of corporate citizenship at TD Bank. The financial institution is holding its sixth annual TD Ready Challenge to provide $1-million grants to organizations addressing affordable housing. (Photo Courtesy of TD Bank)

By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

TD Bank is awarding 10 $1-million grants to organizations across the country that are working to mitigate the housing affordability crisis. The sixth annual TD Ready Challenge targets nonprofits designing innovative solutions that address systemic barriers and increase access to affordable housing. 

Applications for the challenge close on Sep. 13, and winners will be notified in early 2024. 

“This year’s focus on solutions to address systemic barriers to affordable housing directly aligns with the TD Ready Commitment, our corporate citizenship platform focused on opening doors for a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow,” said Shelley Sylva, head of corporate citizenship at TD Bank. “Having access to safe, secure housing is integral to a person’s financial, mental and physical health, and yet, many Americans today still face significant barriers to affordable housing.”

The applications will be judged based on the feasibility of organizations’ proposed plans and outcomes, how well-positioned organizations are in the community and whether the budget for the plan is realistic. 

“Through the TD Ready Challenge, we rely on the organizations to tell us where the needs in communities are, but we’re looking to align with organizations providing solutions to housing supply challenges, homeownership, financial education programs, addressing construction and development costs and innovative loans and financing, amongst others,” said Sylva. 

The Urban League of Broward County, a South Florida affiliate of the National Urban League, was a 2020 recipient of the TD Ready Challenge. That year the bank targeted organizations that were addressing inequities heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in communities disproportionately affected by the disease. 

During the pandemic, the Urban League of Broward County helped individuals access health care and COVID testing and educated them about proper social distancing. The nonprofit received $770,000 from the TD Ready Challenge for its integrated service model, LYNX, which uses artificial intelligence, data science and strategic partnerships to establish a path for social and economic resilience in underserved communities. 

“While health was one of our main thrusts during COVID, we recognized that families have multiple things happening at one time. Health is one of them, but that impacts people’s ability to work, and if you can’t work it’s hard to afford your housing. It’s all connected,” said Courtnee Biscardi, executive vice president of the Urban League of Broward County. 

“With our LYNX platform we are able to enter a household, assess families for multiple needs and address those challenges by connecting them to services that we offer directly or in partnership with other organizations in our community.” 

The grant from TD Bank allowed the Urban League of Broward County to capture its own data from the families it serves, ultimately helping them to better address challenges and put families in a position to thrive. 

Biscardi applauded the bank’s focus on affordable housing for the 2023 TD Ready Challenge. 

“Affordable housing has to be a top priority because the cost of rent, particularly for low-income families, is just completely unaffordable,” said Biscardi. “ When you have capital, it allows you to implement really creative strategies that solve big problems. I appreciate that there are investors in the community that see this as important and are willing to put dollars behind the investment that it takes to resolve this issue.” 

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.