CONVERGENCE Columbus Celebrates New ‘Rise Up’ Homebuyer Program

CONVERGENCE Columbus recently celebrated the launch of Rise Up, a program funded by $5.5 million from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati.

Rise Up offers $25,000 grants for down payment, closing costs or principal reduction assistance for households in Franklin County, Ohio. The program will be administered by Homeport, a leading non-profit developer of affordable housing in central Ohio and a CONVERGENCE Columbus stakeholder.

For over a year, CONVERGENCE Columbus, FHLB Cincinnati and the Mortgage Bankers Association worked together to identify strategies to close the homeownership gaps in central Ohio. Combing through the data, the team found an immense and growing need to better support first-generation homebuyers and investigated how other cities tackled this challenge. Through this partnership, the team built a powerful infrastructure to engage the community and leverage the expertise of stakeholders. To be eligible for the Rise Up program, homebuyers must be a first-generation and first-time buyer, participate in homeownership education and meet the program’s income guidelines.

“Through the Rise Up downpayment assistance pilot program approved by the FHLB Cincinnati Board of Directors, 200 families in Franklin County will have the opportunity to become homeowners for the first time in their family’s history,” said Andy Howell, President and CEO of FHLB Cincinnati. “By focusing on first-time, first-generation home ownership, we look to help create generational wealth among those who have previously encountered barriers that excluded them from the opportunity to own a home.”

During the launch event for Rise Up, speakers talked about the significant and lasting impact the program will have. “Rise Up is a catalyst for prosperity. Today’s investment will be tomorrow’s college degrees,” said Anna Teye-Kasongo, Director of Community Partnerships at the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio. “Today’s grants will be tomorrow’s retirement plans. And today’s hope will be tomorrow’s future.

Teye-Kasongo also said CONVERGENCE Columbus is proud to support FHLB Cincinnati’s Rise Up program, “which will transform the lives of first-generation homebuyers and expand our shared work to create more equitable housing opportunities for our entire community.”

Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO Robert Broeksmit, CMB, said the Rise Up program exemplifies the power of the CONVERGENCE collective impact model. “This major investment by the FHLB of Cincinnati underscores how CONVERGENCE is a platform for attracting stakeholder investments and engagement aligned with our mission of closing the racial homeownership gap,” he said.

The FHLB Cincinnati commitment to Rise Up includes $500,000 for Homeport’s administration of the program. “Homeport is committed to expanding household equity in central Ohio, not only through our development of affordable homes but also through the administration of down payment assistance and homebuyer education services,” said Homeport President & CEO Leah F. Evans. The organization also administrates the CONVERGENCE Columbus Maude Hill Growing Homeownership Fund, which launched earlier this year. “Homeownership is a key factor in building generational wealth, and programs such as FHLB Cincinnati’s Rise Up fund are critical in making homeownership more accessible to first-generation buyers, including those earning low to moderate incomes,” she said.

The Rise Up Program will begin accepting applications at the end of May 2024. To learn about the full eligibility requirements for the program, contact and visit Homeport’s website for more details. Rise Up will also be featured on, CONVERGENCE Columbus’ consumer-facing website and homeownership resource for Columbus’ Black and minority communities.