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Full History


Dorothy Richardson leads her neighbors in the Central North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh to fight back against community decay. “The solution was not to tear down the whole neighborhood, but to fix the houses,” she said. The first "NeighborWorks" organization is born, led by Dorothy Richardson.


The Urban Reinvestment Task Force, led by Bill Whiteside, replicates the model fostered by Dorothy Richardson, expanding the work beyond Pittsburgh to serve more cities. By 1976, the Task Force had 14 staff, and there were NeighborWorks organizations (then called Neighborhood Housing Services) in 45 cities.


Congress creates the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation to carry on the work of the Task Force. Signatory of the bill that created the corporation, President Jimmy Carter said, “If we are to save our cities, we must revitalize our neighborhoods first. If we are to save our country we must first give our families and our neighbors a chance." Bill Whiteside became the first CEO of the new organization.


There were NeighborWorks organizations in 126 cities. The organizations began renovating distressed apartment buildings and promoting homeownership among families of modest means.


President Ronald Reagan acknowledged the growth of the corporation and the network by designating October 7 - 13 as National Neighborhood Housing Services Week, the precursor to our current NeighborWorks Week.


To meet growing demand for locally-driven community development, the first National Training Institute is held in Los Angeles with some 180 attendees. All courses are taught by staff members.

The 1990s

At the start of this decade, the NeighborWorks network comprises 161 community-based organizations operating in 270 neighborhoods in 41 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

NeighborWorks starts the Dorothy Richardson Awards in 1992 to honor extraordinary resident leaders.

Also in 1992, 20 NeighborWorks organizations came together to launch the NeighborWorks Campaign for Homeownership. From 1993 to 1997 the campaign grew to more than 100 organizations, assisting 15,880 families into homeownership, and attracting more than $1.1 billion in total investment.

A second, five-year campaign was launched in 1998, which exceeded it goals with 47,648 new homeowners,
$4.5 billion in total investments, and 272,976 homebuyer counseling participants.

In 1994, NeighborWorks solidifies its commitment to rural America by establishing RNA Community Builders, an offshoot of the Rural NeighborWorks Alliance.

In 1999, NeighborWorks hits the $1 billion mark for direct investment in distressed communities. The multi-family initiative launches to promote affordable rental homes.

Throughout the decade CEO George Knight’s commitment to data-driven performance results and homeownership promotion makes its mark on the organizational culture and strategy of NeighborWorks America.


NeighborWorks celebrates its 25th anniversary. The NeighborWorks network consists of more than 220 organizations and more than 4 million people have directly benefited from the work of NeighborWorks.


NeighborWorks America takes a lead role in the Gulf following Hurricane Katrina and other devastating storms with its "Power of 10" initiative led by CEO Eileen Fitzgerald. NeighborWorks makes more than $1 million in grants to more than 20 NeighborWorks organizations in the Gulf Region, providing emergency housing and other assistance to thousands of storm victims.

NeighborWorks becomes the leading nonprofit addressing the growing foreclosure crisis by establishing the NeighborWorks Center for Foreclosure Solutions in 2005. In 2007, Congress designates NeighborWorks America to administer the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program. In 2009, in a continuing effort to assist recovery from the housing crisis, NeighborWorks launches the Loan Scam Campaign and the Stable Communities Initiative.

In 2007 the boards of RNA Community Builders and NeighborWorks Capital vote to merge as NeighborWorks Capital.

NeighborWorks launches our first major green initiative, “Think Green, Act Green” in 2008, to support community-driven green projects. The same year, the first national Community Leadership Institute in San Jose helps train resident leaders alongside nonprofit employees in their communities.

Recent History

There are now more than 240 NeighborWorks organizations operating in urban, suburban and rural communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In the past five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is a leading trainer of community development, financial capability and affordable housing professionals.

NeighborWorks America has helped nearly 1.725 million homeowners through the congressionally funded National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program.

NeighborWorks marked its 35th year in 2013 with a move to its new LEED-certified headquarters in the NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue) neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Following nine years of intensive focus on foreclosure and several new initiatives led by CEO Eileen Fitzgerald, Chuck Wehrwein was named acting president and chief executive officer of NeighborWorks America in May 2014.

In January 2015, Paul Weech began his role as president and chief executive officer of NeighborWorks America.