Rural Gateway Case Studies

Nogales Community Development Rural Innovation Fund Colonia Continuum of Services

Project Summary

  • FY2011 Grant Award: $1,999,177
  • Grant Category: Comprehensive
  • Applicant Type: Nonprofit
  • Grant Activities:
    • Commercial facility rehabilitation
    • Homeownership counseling
    • Job training and business development
    • Green housing rehabilitation
    • Continuum of services
  • Projected Impact:
    • 60 individuals receiving housing counseling and maintenance training
    • 120 individuals receiving job training
    • 60 individuals receiving training and a job
    • 30 households establishing an education IDA


Nogales map

Nogales, Arizona

Key Outcomes

  • Creation of the Nogales Rural Innovation Consortium and a central location
  • Financial assistance to hundreds of residents
  • 77 individuals received housing counseling and maintenance training
  • 411 individuals received job training


Briggit Baez
(520) 397-9219

Nils Urman

Community Description

Nogales is a rural colonias community and Arizona's largest international border community, with a population of under 21,000. Approximately ninety-five percent of the population is Hispanic or Latino. The poverty rate is 38.5 percent, in large part because of high unemployment and low-skill, low-paying jobs. As of September 2010, the area had a high unemployment rate of 16.0 percent, with an underemployment rate of 52.8 percent. Only 21.9 percent of residents have training or education beyond a high school diploma, and over half of the adult population in the area has not completed high school. The city's housing stock is old and in need of repair; 25 percent were built before 1939 and 92 percent are over 20 years old. Approximately 40 percent of owner-occupied units are multi-generational, overcrowded, and owned without a mortgage. New housing construction is difficult due to the natural terrain of Nogales, making housing rehabilitation a more viable approach to affordable housing.

The Organization

The Nogales Community Development Corporation (NCD) began approximately 20 years ago as a grassroots organization composed of downtown merchants and property owners dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Nogales through a Main Street program. It is still focused on the long-term economic growth of the Nogales central business district, but it has expanded to include the surrounding neighborhoods and the preservation of the unique culture and heritage of Nogales and Santa Cruz County. It has an active board of directors and a staff of five full-time and three part-time personnel.

Project Overview

NCD requested fiscal year 2010 RIF funding under the Category 1 Comprehensive Grant component. NCD, along with seven partners, led the Nogales Rural Innovation Consortium (NRIC) as the direct applicant agency, assuming fiscal responsibility and project coordination among the members.

The project was designed to enable NRIC to revitalize the downtown core of Nogales by developing a multiuse training and resource center, addressing the gaps in asset services, and creating a comprehensive continuum of services referral system.

  • Development of a multiuse training and resource center: This center provides downtown residents with needed self-sufficiency services while spurring revitalization of historic buildings in the downtown core. At the time of the grant, no comprehensive training space existed in Nogales to help low-income residents acquire the skills and financial resources to become self-sufficient. NCD acquired and redeveloped a building site for these purposes and moved their offices to this training center site.
  • Addressed gaps in asset services: Although NCD's partners provided a range of county-wide asset services, they had never done so in a concentrated way for the residents of the downtown census tracts. The RIF grant enabled these organizations to deliver targeted services to these residents by implementing a highly-focused outreach strategy carried out by "promotores," or lay outreach workers. The services provided included affordable housing, business development, education, and other self-sufficiency supports.
  • Created a comprehensive continuum of services referral system: The referral system created by NCD through the RIF grant bundled client housing, business and workforce development, public health, education, and related services (including access to public transportation and child care) together into one referral network while improving the capacity of local organizations to track progress at the levels of client self-sufficiency, census tract, and consortium partnership. This referral network not only better coordinated resources, but it also improved the knowledge and skills of housing staff from various local agencies and created a system that helps residents quickly resolve housing problems.

Nogales recreation
Downtown Nogales Recreation Area

Project Resources

NCD's leveraging of resources is particularly impressive. With its group of partners, NCD has developed an umbrella group of local service organizations called the Nogales Rural Innovation Consortium (NRIC) based around the RIF project and the future NCD headquarters. Most of the resource leveraging is in-kind and based on sharing information. The NRIC exceeded its commitment by nearly three times the amount promised, with NCD alone securing nearly $3 million in leveraged funding. Management and technical staff for the local service organizations meet regularly to exchange ideas and opportunities for collaboration, for example. The following chart identifies the many sources of funds used by the NRIC.

Source Amount Details
Rural Innovation Fund $1,999,177  
Federal Match $1,128,182
  • 2012 EDA international training needs grant - $135,000
  • 2013 HHS Commercial Kitchen incubator - $800,000
  • 2014 CDFI Treasury Technical Assistance grant - $96,728
  • 2015 USDA Rural Micro-entrepreneur assistance program for business training of NCD clients - $35,806
  • 2015 USDA Rural Business Development Grant for business training of NCD clients - $60,000
Non-Federal Match $789,226 43 individual sources, including $188,000 in private donation pledges through capital campaign fund.
Mortgage Debt Secured (for redevelopment of multi-use Training Center) $805,000
  • 2014 Kory Trust private funding - $155,000
  • 2015 Raza Development Fund Construction Loan - $650,000
Total Leverage $4,721,585  

In addition to the leverage shown, partners leveraged these additional resources:

  • NRIC partners committed more than $35,000 in staff time towards the needs assessment and follow up process and engagement in the consortium activities.
  • Citibank committed $25,000 in cash leveraging resources in June 2013. At the inception of this grant, Citibank only had pledged its staff time in technical resources to help extend the partners' annual VITA sites, so the actual investment was much greater.
  • Mariposa Community Health Center (MCHC) was able to secure a $750,000 5-year Healthy Start home-visitation grant as a result of the partnership. Through that grant MCHC was able to add seven new full-time positions, three of which are community health workers (case managers). Susan Kunz, chief of health and wellness for the organization, credits the NRIC needs assessment and partnership efforts as essential in helping craft their winning grant proposal.

Program Outcomes

Through the RIF grant, NCD acquired a building in which to house its offices and training resources and provide a physical base of operations for the NRIC. The most powerful outcome from the RIF grant was the creation of the NRIC itself. The cross-referencing of clients and the leveraging of their skills and resources allows NCD to focus on its core service lines. Once the headquarters site was completed, it provided the partner organizations with a space in which to house their operations, expand, and coordinate with the other partners. For example, the Maricopa County Health Center holds screenings and health information sessions in the NCD building so that residents can receive training and health screenings.

NCD and NRIC serve hundreds of community members through their VITA program and other financial and counseling services, including education regarding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), thereby enabling residents to increase their financial stability. Through this same EITC program, NCD is also offering a matching savings bond to people who receive a tax refund. NCD also promotes staff development and cross-training by including staff training in every grant application, including RIF, for which they apply. In so doing, they have been able to retain talented staff for long periods and thereby increase organizational stability and consistency. In addition, the staff is also highly qualified and cross-trained, with certifications as economic developers, financial counselors, housing counselors, VITA volunteers, and more.

NCD office sign
Nogales Community Development Corporation's New Building

NCD exceeded all of the original performance projections, in some cases, substantially including: housing counseling and maintenance training to 77 individuals; 411 versus the 120 projected individuals receiving job training; 62 individuals receiving training and a job; and 31 households establishing an education Individual Development Account (IDA).

Lessons Learned

NCD has developed a strong network of partnerships with other local service providers. This leveraging of resources and activities may be its most lasting impact on the community. NCD has built its capacity by training its staff and expanding its board and offerings, but it may need to build additional self-sufficiency into its organization going forward. In addition, the loss of its long-time Executive Director, Yvonne Delgadillo, was a challenge to the organization, especially during the implementation of the RIF grant. The organization was able to weather this loss through the appointment of a long-serving Board Member, Nils Urman, as the new Executive Director due to his knowledge and history with the organization. A major hurdle for NCD was learning how to use HUD's Disaster Recovery Grant Reporting system of record.

the Nogales community
Revitalized Downtown Nogales