Meet Anthony Graham, this year’s participant in the Tony Goldman Internship for Diversity in Preservation & Community Development. It’s been wonderful working with Anthony to review NMTC-eligible projects, understand the importance of community impacts, and deploy our existing allocation over the past couple of months.
Recently, we sat down with Anthony to learn more about his background and future in community development.
How did you learn about the Open Access Initiative Opportunity? Why did you want to participate?
Project REAP is the “parent organization” of Open Access, and they sponsor another program that a colleague of mine was chosen to participate in last year. She learned of Open Access & thought it would be an awesome opportunity, if I were chosen, to develop my professional skills with knowledge and a network, coupled with my existing skillset and network, that would allow me to make a purposeful transition into Community Development.
How did you come to be interested in community development finance and/or the New Markets Tax Credit industry?
I started my career in Real Estate 12 years ago, working in various capacities for developers. Being a student of the craft, I’ve always paid close attention to market conditions and the impact on access to capital, especially for developers who represent marginalized communities or are building in marginalized communities. During the pandemic (2020), I attended a Zoom titled “Diversify your capital stack,” and it was all about Tax Credits (LIHTCs, NMTCs, HTCs, etc.). My interest has been piqued since then.
What’s your dream job?
I’m not sure yet. Every day the world continues to present new opportunities to impact change for the better. So, I guess, a job dealing in Real Assets, that lets me make a lot of money and do a lot of good at the same time.
What’s the single most effective tool a city has to affect change in its low-income communities?
People who care.
What will you be working on during your time with NTCIC and what are you most interested in learning/doing?
I will be working in the Compliance department learning New Market Tax Credit Allocation rules, and regulations, and how to make sure an organization remains eligible to continue being designated a CDE or CDFI.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
“Closed mouths don’t get fed.” If you want to learn something, ask. If you need mentorship, ask. If you need skills development, ask. If you are frustrated and could use clarity, ask. In short, there are people all around you who have been where you are and most of the time are more than willing to lend you a hand if you are sincere, gracious, and considerate in your approach. Engaging can make all the difference.
What advice do you have for young people of color wanting to work in this field?
Research companies and create a short list (5 to 10) of those you admire and what positions you would ideally like to have one day, jump on LinkedIn and see if you can schedule a Zoom or coffee meetup with the individuals at those companies who work in that job. People are nice and love to help young professionals find their way. Again, be considerate, gracious, and sincere.
What advice do you have for the industry to better support young people of color wanting to enter the field?
I’d never heard of tax credits except for LIHTCs, which I realize now I didn’t understand too much prior to the Zoom webinar I attended in 2020. I’d been in real estate development for 9 years at that point. Maybe an awareness campaign? College Fair or College Business school tours? This is an awesome way to make a living, and I’m sure many would choose this industry if they knew it was there.
Who is an inspiration to you?
What’s the most rewarding professional project you’ve been involved with?
I worked for a developer who brought to market a 37-unit condo building called Metropolitan Overlook. All the units were sold to first-time buyers. All buyers qualified for the downpayment assistance program HPAP and I was fortunate enough to be their guide through the process and hear their stories. All the units to date have appreciated more than $80k and have allowed every one of those individuals to create a foundation of wealth for themselves that was not available to their familial generation before them.
Why did you choose NTCIC as your sponsored company for the fellowship?
Actually, NTCIC chose me, which I am incredibly grateful for. I applied to this fellowship because I had heard of this company through my volunteering with the local DC Main Streets programs. I love the projects NTCIC has supported throughout the years and wanted the opportunity to learn how to do this work from an organization I truly admire. Also, my interview with Laura Burns sealed the deal. Who wouldn’t want to work with Laura!?