photo of a black man in a suit, with the san francisco skyline in the background
Trevor Parham is the CEO of Oakstop, an East Bay business that has received a loan from the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

How Federation’s impact lending program helps this Oakland business thrive

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An Oakland-based coworking business has received a $250,000 loan through the impact lending program of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

The loan has gone to Oakstop, a combination coworking, event and gallery space, with five locations in Oakland and one in Richmond. Trevor Parham, the business’ CEO and founder in 2014, describes the venture as a “social enterprise.”

Oakstop rents spaces for work, meetings and training sessions and is used mainly by artists and nonprofits looking for affordable workspaces, according to its website. All locations also serve as gallery spaces, displaying works for sale by local artists.

“[We use] commercial real estate as a vehicle for mobilizing local communities of color through providing affordable and accessible space,” Parham said.

The Federation program aims to put money in the hands of underserved communities by loaning to small, local lenders, said Tanya Shadoan, the Federation’s chief operating officer since October and the founder of the program.

In 2021, the Federation made a loan of more than $965,000 to Pacific Community Ventures, a nonprofit lending partner that supports small-business owners and communities with a focus on economic, racial and gender justice. The Oakland-based venture has used that capital to help make $9.6 million in loans to 133 businesses, including day care centers, real estate businesses and employment services across the country.

Shadoan said the idea behind the program is to get donor-advised funds into the community.

“We wanted to offer something different [to our donors],” she said. “We wanted to do it in a way that was aligned with people’s philanthropic goals, but also move them beyond where they might be on their own.”

The impact lending program began in the early days of the pandemic when Hebrew Free Loan, the S.F.-based nonprofit that offers interest-free loans to those in the Jewish community and beyond, received a record number of loan applications — and reached out to the Federation for help.

A way of repairing the world is making it more equitable — making capital accessible to people who haven’t had access to it.

That was March 2020. By April, the Federation had raised $5 million from donors and supporting foundations and added another $1 million from its own coffers. Hebrew Free Loan was presented with a $6 million loan to be paid back in full after five years, which helped the nonprofit make 359 more loans to the community.

Everyone involved was “just looking for a way to help,” Shadoan said.

As of May 2022, the Federation had pooled a total of $21.1 million for the impact lending program, spreading those funds to 13 community-based lending partners, including Pacific Community Ventures.

The program, like other Federation efforts, is led by Jewish values, Shadoan said.

“A way of repairing the world is making it more equitable — making capital accessible to people who haven’t had access to it,” she said.

Parham, 40, said he plans to use his loan to hire more staff. He got his degree in fine arts from University of Pennsylvania and dabbled in the art world before being employed at a coworking space. At that point, he realized the model’s potential for benefiting a community.

Parham wants Oakstop “to continue to cultivate the local Oakland ecosystem to help both the business community [and] the greater community — and communities of color overall — to grow and thrive. And then, that work unto itself serves as a model for us to inspire other cities to [utilize] the same model.”

Lillian Ilsley-Greene
Lillian Ilsley-Greene

Lillian Ilsley-Greene was a staff writer at J. from 2022-2023.