In my Message from the Director in January 2011, I stated that, as remarkable as the CDFI FundŐs accomplishments were in 2010, we were committed to reaching even higher in 2011. I am very pleased to report that in the first half of 2011, we have continued to build upon the impressive record we established last year and, indeed, are reaching new heights.

In July, I traveled to Chicago to join U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S Representative Danny Davis to announce the awards for the fiscal year 2011 round of our flagship program, the Community Development Financial Institutions Program (CDFI Program). The awards totaled $142.3 million and were made to 155 CDFIs headquartered in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

This represents the largest single round of monetary awards in the history of the CDFI Fund. We set our previous record-$104.8 million, which was also awarded through the CDFI Program-just last year. With the announcement of the 2011 awards, we have now awarded more than $1 billion through the CDFI Program since the CDFI Fund was created in 1994.

We have reached another important milestone this year. In the past year, we have certified nearly 150 CDFIs. As a result, on June 30, 2011, the number of certified CDFIs reached 957-the most in our history and an increase of 18 percent since this time last year. We anticipate that the number will continue to grow, as more organizations recognize the benefits of certification. We also recognize that, as it does grow, we must continue to work closely with new and existing CDFIs to ensure that they fully appreciate the responsibilities that come with being a certified CDFI.

The New Markets Tax Credit Program has continued to grow as well. Under the 2011 round of the program, we received a total of 314 applications, which is the most we have received since 2002 and an increase of 26 percent over last yearŐs total. The aggregate total of $26.6 billion in NMTC allocation authority requested by the applicants for calendar year 2011 is an increase of 14 percent over the amount requested last year and is more than seven times greater than the $3.5 billion of NMTC allocation authority available under the 2011 allocation round.

I will add that the NMTC Program was recently selected as a Top 25 government program in the competition for the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award administered by the Harvard Kennedy SchoolŐs Ash Center. This tremendous honor is a testament to the NMTC ProgramŐs success in attracting critically needed private capital into our nationŐs low-income communities.

We have also made significant progress in a number of other areas in 2011. In June, we began soliciting comments regarding the design, implementation, and administration of the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, a new program enacted through the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. The program authorizes the Treasury Department to guarantee bonds issued by CDFIs to make loans and investments in low-income communities, and thus will offer CDFIs a new source of long-term, patient capital. The CDFI Fund is now moving expeditiously to administer this program and recently hired staff to lead the effort.

Also in June, the CDFI Fund began presenting a series of expanded and enhanced workshops to promote economic development in Native American communities. Entitled Growing Economies in Indian Country: Taking Stock of Progress and Partnerships, the series builds upon the workshops we offered last year and is being co-sponsored by the CDFI Fund, the Federal Reserve, and a variety of other federal agencies. The free, one-day workshops are being held in six locations around the country and are designed to foster a discussion about best economic and community development practices for Native communities.

The CDFI Fund is also exploring other ways to collaborate with federal agencies with which we share a common vision. At the end of 2010, we joined with the U.S. Small Business Administration to announce the launch of a new loan initiative called Community Advantage. Under this new program, the SBA is opening its flagship 7(a) lending program for the first time to CDFIs and other community-based lenders, and will allow them to originate SBA 7(a) loans up to $250,000.

The CDFI Fund is also looking at ways to partner with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In June I had the opportunity to join Mercedes M‡rquez, HUDŐs Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development (and a member the CDFI FundŐs advisory board) at a conference in southern Texas to discuss efforts to generate economic opportunity in the thousands of very low-income communities, known as colonias, along the stateŐs border with Mexico.

Clearly, 2011 has been a very productive year for the CDFI Fund. What has made me especially proud is that we have performed at such a high level despite working in an uncertain and challenging environment. Throughout late 2010 and early 2011, the CDFI Fund, like other federal agencies, operated under a series of Continuing Resolutions as budget negotiations continued and the prospect of significant budget cuts loomed. Nevertheless, the entire staff of the CDFI Fund met the uncertainty we faced with renewed resolve. Our progress in 2011 is a testament to their dedication and professionalism.

I would also like to express my appreciation to the Administration and to Congress for their support for the work of the CDFI Fund and of CDFIs across the country. Our FY 2011 budget is a solid endorsement of the vital role that CDFIs play in underserved communities.

Despite our outstanding performance in 2011, we remain mindful of just how much remains to be done. We are mindful that the recession has taken a terrible toll in low-income communities that were already struggling, and that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in America is only growing.

And so we will continue to move forward.

In the coming months, we will be making award announcements for the Native American CDFI Assistance Program, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative under the CDFI Program, and the Bank Enterprise Award Program. Training sessions through the Capacity Building Initiative will also be available for hundreds of CDFIs to enhance their ability to serve communities in need.

And within the CDFI Fund we will be focusing on enhancing the CDFI Fund's infrastructure, particularly in the areas of research, certification and compliance, and information technology.

Above all, we will continue to stand with CDFIs and all of our other partners in community and economic development to serve the underserved across the United States and to create opportunity in communities where opportunity is needed most.

I would like to thank the staff of the CDFI Fund, our advisory board, and the countless professionals who work for CDFIs for their commitment and hard work. May we all continue to reach new heights.

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