Supporting Innovation in Education

Over $600,000 in seed funding will be awarded through A for Arizona’s Expansion and Innovation Fund, including the Pima IDA’s gift, empowering innovative school and community leaders, teachers, and families to implement their bold ideas for reimagining learning models, creating and scaling more student-focused programs, and developing better teaching and learning educational approaches. Applications are being accepted for this grant funding June 3 – July 8 at noon.

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StartupTucson IdeaFunding Award Winners

Idea Funding

IdeaFunding, led by our friends at Startup Tucson & Arizona Commerce Authority, was held on April 15, 2021. It was a day-long digital entrepreneurial experience including Southern Arizona’s largest pitch competition, inspirational community Resiliency Awards, and powerful thought-leaders.

Adelante Award

CIC was honored to sponsor the Adelante Award. An award that supports diverse founders, such as women-owned and BIPOC-owned companies.

Originally intended to be one $5,000 award, CIC was so impressed by two founders’ pitches that we just had to support both! 

Learn more and support these powerhouse entrepreneurs:


Obánj is a monthly subscription service that lets you borrow designer and artisan jewelry from designers like Oscar de la Renta and Balenciaga. Depending on your Membership Plan, you can borrow one, two, or three pieces of jewelry per month.

Ku' Panda Skincare

Ku’Panda is a high quality experience with affordable prices. Herbs, Actives and Potent Botanicals hydrate, brighten and treat skin. Our products are kissed by Tucson with wildcrafted herbs sourced by local herbalists. Active ingredients are strategically used to guarantee you results backed by science.

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Loan Success Story -CRU Trucking

“You run into people willing to help you along the way. CIC it has been fantastic, working with you guys. I recommend that when people have that itch to start something, to move forward.
Even though CIC turned me down initially for the first truck/trailer purchase, they were positive, helpful, and guided me so I could qualify six months later with proven financial history. You were such a blessing.” – Chuck Ugalde, Owner

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Kiva Tucson Making an Impact

The rate that entrepreneurs are starting new businesses in the US has been flat for almost 20 years. While there are many factors, lack of access to capital is a barrier that is difficult for many would-be business owners to overcome. This trend of stagnant new business growth is fueled by the reality that a significant portion of the population – women, people of color and rural entrepreneursface significant hurdles finding funding necessary to start and grow a new business.

This is problematic because entrepreneurs – not big businesses – are fueling all new net job creation (Kaufman, Start Us Up).

“Supporting and expanding entrepreneurship increases jobs, innovation, and productivity.” Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. This is going to be crucial for the recovery we face in the wake of the pandemic.

At CIC, we’ve been building platforms to offer more options to entrepreneurs to access capital, in many cases creating the first rung on the capital access ladder for small business owners. 

One such platform we’ve activated in partnership with Growth Partners Arizona and the City of Tucson is Kiva – a community backed lending platform for small business owners, offering 0%, zero fee micro loans from $1,000 – $15,000. Since the launch of Kiva Tucson, 23 local business owners have raised nearly $200,000 in funding to grow and develop their business during one of the toughest times for small business, many of which have been drastically impacted by COVID-19.

Another fascinating statistic that confirms the findings of the Kauffman Foundation, these 23 small businesses have added a total of 44 new jobs since July 2020. 

“Without the loan I was able to raise through Kiva, I would never have been able to further develop my business helping to place nurses in healthcare facilities. I’ve been able to hire 15 healthcare workers who rely on my business to connect them where the need is greatest.” Philemon Prescoss, CEO, 3Twelves.

As a restaurant owner during this time, Gada Ghotmi, owner of Med Cuisine, has known the challenges first hand across many fronts. She and her husband were both hospitalized with COVID-19, but she was determined to build her business back, and with the help of a Kiva loan to provide the funding she needed to restock and hire help, she’s been able to hire 6 people since July 2020. “Kiva was the lifeline we needed. No bank was willing to loan money to a restaurant owner in the middle of the pandemic.”

CIC is committed to continued innovation for entrepreneurs to access the capital needed to build and grow business for the community to accelerate recovery, and ensure the US economy has the fuel it needs to grow sustainably.

Pima Eviction Prevention Impact Report

In late August of 2020, Community Investment Corporation (CIC) contracted with Pima County to develop and manage a dynamic online platform that would expedite the distribution of CARES Act funding to prevent evictions in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Within less than 14 weeks $2.8 Million in funds were distributed through 911 completed cases. The unique dual applicant approach, coupled with the use of adapted customer service and engagement software, made the program efficient and effective. We are honored to have stewarded this program and hope you will take the time to review our impact report in full. For questions please contact

Tenants Served Heat Map

The above image shows the locations served by this program.

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BIPOC Community Manage Loan Fund ANNOUNCED

A new resource for BIPOC entrepreneurs and business owners in all stages of business.

UPDATE: Program details announced June, 30, 2021: 

This loan fund is the brainchild of Community Investment Corporation (CIC) staff who wanted to take action in the wake of recent and ongoing national tragedies and calls for racial equity and justice. In partnership and with the support of BLAX Friday and Startup Tucson, CIC will shift decision-making to the community itself about where (geographically), to whom (communities of color underserved by financial institutions and systems), and under what circumstances (measures of risk) capital flows.

Traditional economic structures and capital access mechanisms have deprived too many BIPOC individuals, families, and entrepreneurs of essential financial empowerment tools for too long. We are proposing a new approach and solution to promote holistic societal and economic equity and health.

Purpose: To offer 0% interest loan funding to early stage BIPOC identifying entrepreneurs in the first 5 years of formalized business ownership. This funding will come from an established revolving loan fund” housed and managed by CIC Revolving loan funds are self-replenishing pools of money, typically utilizing interest and principal payments from existing loans to issue new ones. Because the initial loans from this fund will be originated at zero interest, the fund in its nascency will rely on financial and in-kind support from CIC. Funding for the inaugural BIPOC loan has been generated by CIC with all current staff making personal contributions. CIC is also actively fundraising to grow the pool of available funds with an initial goal of raising $100,000 for distribution in 2021. All repayment of loans will be reinvested in the fund – these funds may be loaned out with nominal interest in the future to help offset administrative costs of managing the fund. 

Process:  The BIPOC Community Managed Loan Fund will redefine traditional lending qualifications and decision making. CIC staff will act as educator, facilitator and guide, and will originate and service all loans and manage all monies in relation to this fund.  Decision making will however be done solely by the BIPOC CMLF members. The committee will establish and define underwriting criteria, loan application details and the process for approval, as well as make the final decisions on loan approvals. The committee will meet monthly  

Fundamentals of loan (subject to change based on committee): 

  • Up to $10,000 
  • 3 to 5-year term 
  • 0% interest 
  • No traditional collateral needs to be pledged 
  • Entrepreneur within first 5 years of formalized business ownership 

Estimated timeline and next steps:

  • Establish the Community Managed Loan Fund (CMLF) Committee
  • Educate CMLF Committee on traditional lending practices
  • CMLF Committee to create guidelines, underwriting requirements, application, and decision-making framework for loans
  • Public launch of the program including an open call for loan applicants

Questions? Want to be contacted regarding updates?

This project is made possible with the generous support of the following: