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East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation applies arts, culture in equitable community development

Arts & Culture

For 47 years, the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) has advocated for healthy neighborhoods where all residents have a place to call home and have the resources they need to thrive.

Based in Oakland, California, EBALDC is a non-profit community development organization that builds vibrant and safe neighborhoods in Oakland and the East Bay region. EBALDC is widely known for developing and managing diverse, mixed-income complexes while providing social and financial services to help long-time, low-income residents stay in their neighborhoods.

The Kresge Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program was recently honored with the Healthy Neighborhoods Pillar Award, presented during EBALDC’s 47th Annual Gala Celebration at the historic Preservation Park.

View photos from the gala

“Kresge’s support has transformed the way EBALDC thinks about arts, culture and creativity – from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential component of community development,” said Annie Ledbury, EBALDC senior manager for creative community development.

Andy Madeira, CEO of EBALDC, added: “Creative community development has been integral in supporting resident leadership, creative engagement, and place-keeping as a tool for action toward equitable community outcomes. The application of arts and culture to strengthen our neighborhood collaborative partnerships, real estate projects, and resident service programs was especially important during the pandemic and as we recover from it.”

The Healthy Havenscourt Collaborative worked with an artist to create this traveling installation that asked Oakland residents to share their dreams, strengths, barriers, and hopes around jobs and housing.

Building and Supporting Equitable Development

While some of Kresge’s funding has come in the form of general operating grant support to help bolster EBALDC’s Creative Placemaking activities, one specific project is a partnership through Kresge’s BASED Initiative, which stands for Building and Supporting Equitable Development.

EBALDC was one of 11 grantees selected to participate in BASED, launched in 2019 to advance community development through arts and culture. In July 2020, Kresge expanded the program to invite six additional organizations to join the BASED cohort.

While there are a substantial number of community development organizations that have successfully integrated Creative Placemaking into their broader neighborhood strategies, many of these organizations have faced staffing, policy or funding hurdles.

Kresge’s hope when launching BASED was to strengthen these organizations and expand efforts that integrate Creative Placemaking into place-based work happening in cities across the U.S. The primary goal behind the initiative was to develop a platform for continued learning of both leading practitioners and Kresge staff around emerging field priorities, such as strengthening racial equity and inclusion best practices within the community development sector and positioning culture and creativity as drivers of more equitable communities.

Michelle Johnson, senior program officer with Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program, has worked closely with EBALDC throughout the years to incorporate equitable Creative Placemaking into its strategy, which positions culture and creativity as drivers of more equitable communities.

“Our team is honored to have been a partner and funder to EBALDC for several years and to support this incredible work in building healthy, vibrant, and safe neighborhoods,” Johnson said. “EBALDC provides strong models of integrating arts and cultural programming as tools to engage residents’ voices and priorities to shape equitable community development.”

‘Tale of two cities’

Like many cities across the country, Oakland is facing the tale of two cities where longtime residents are being priced out of their homes due to gentrification and systems of inequity. Many residents who have lived in neighborhoods for years are no longer able to afford sky-rocketing prices.

“We’ve seen extraordinary work from EBALDC in bringing forward arts and culture practices to create more equitable approaches to the core components of community development,” Johnson said. “Organizations like EBALDC that are able to merge arts and culture with racially equitable approaches to economic development, housing and community services do a better job of creating opportunities that are tied to residents’ priorities.”

Andy Madeira, EBALDC CEO; Vicki Shu, EBALDC director of resource development & communications; and Kaniqua Welch, Kresge Foundation communications officer.

Kaniqua Welch, communications officer with The Kresge Foundation, attended the gala on behalf of Johnson and the Arts & Culture Program to accept the award.

“For more than 40 years, you have helped residents to lead self-determined lives…you have consistently showcased that culture and creativity are the levers that can contribute to stronger connections to place; to create a bridge across racial and cultural divides; and to activate individuals to take action and mobilize for change,” Welch said during the awards ceremony. “One thing is for certain, at Kresge – we take pride in learning from our partners. And we’ve learned a great deal from EBALDC.”

To learn more about EBALDC, visit or follow EBALDC on Twitter at @ebaldc. You can also subscribe to EBALDC’s newsletter by clicking here.