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Kayla Baker
Founder and Principal, Ryse Local Ventures

Kayla Baker is the Founder and Principal of Ryse Local Ventures (RYSE). RYSE accelerates the growth and impact of equity-focused community organizations, businesses, and local governments. We do this by providing high-impact expertise, analysis, solutions, and implementation that sustainably elevate mission and goals. We take a systems change approach to economic mobility, providing additional capacity around strategic planning, impact evaluation, process and program design, and research and grant writing.

Kayla has a wealth of diverse experiences across the economic mobility and asset building industries. Kayla started her career at JPMorgan Private Bank as a Portfolio Manager, where she managed and traded over $3 billion in client assets. Kayla's experiences on Wall Street during the Great Recession refined her interests in pursuing work to ensure that the economy works for everyone; this inspired Kayla’s transition to Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Federal Credit Union (HOPE), a leading community development financial institution (CDFI) focused on providing financial products and services to economically distressed communities. As Executive Strategist at HOPE, Kayla worked to enhance the organization’s mission by building relationships with local and national partners and managing high-priority projects to improve customer experiences and organizational efficiency. Following her time at HOPE, Kayla transitioned to George Mason University, the largest public university in the state of Virginia, as an Internal Consultant on their New Ventures team in the Office of the Provost. There she coordinated public-private partnerships to support skills-based career pathways for nontraditional college students while balancing employer priorities and local labor market demands. In her previous role, Kayla worked for Capital Impact Partners, a national CDFI, as the Director of Washington, D.C Initiatives; during her time there, Kayla oversaw the D.C. market program portfolio of capital-centered, technical assistance programs focused on Black and Brown business owners and real estate developers across the D.C. metropolitan area.

Kayla holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Bowdoin College and a Master of Business Administration degree from Cornell University. She serves on the National Advisory Committee for Admissions for Bowdoin College, and the Advisory Board for birdSEED. She previously served on the Board of Directors for the Women of Color in Community Development (WCCD) and remains an active member. In her spare time, Kayla enjoys reading books, traveling internationally, and mentoring emerging leaders.


Our housing justice program offers down payment grants to qualifying BIPOC first time home buying residents in the DC and Philadelphia areas. Awards range from $5,000 to $15,000 and grants are made multiple times per year until funds are expended.

The application/review process is straight forward and uncomplicated.

Our Board of Advisors reviews applications, interviews finalists and identifies grantees. This is a partnership with the Greater Washington Community Foundation who supports the administrative complexity so we can very simply help people buy homes. *

Applicants must identify as one of the following: American Indian, Indigenous, Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, African American, Hispanic or Latinix birdSEED has made 29 provisional grants to date. The total grant pool available was $215,000. Additional funds have been raised from supportive community members who shared our vision of simple, no strings financial down payment grants that accelerate the home buying process. If you are positioned to give, please do. Needs are great, resources are limited and your help is essential.

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