The beginning of a new year is always a good time to pause a moment to reflect on the journey we have just completed as well as on the road that lies ahead. I am particularly pleased to look back on the performance of the CDFI industry and the CDFI Fund as 2011 has been another outstanding year for CDFIs.

At the same time, I am also aware that, for all of our accomplishments in 2011, we have so much more to do in 2012. Indeed, this past September, the U.S. Census Bureau issued a report that confirms something that those of us who support work in low-income communities know all too well-that, despite clear signs of economic recovery in the United States, poverty is on the rise.

According to the report, our nation's poverty rate increased from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.1 percent in 2010. And from 2009 to 2010, the number of Americans living in poverty rose from 43.6 million to 46.2 million-which is the largest number ever recorded in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.

The report also reveals that some of our most vulnerable populations have been among the hardest hit. For example, the number of families living in poverty rose from 8.8 million in 2009 to 9.2 million in 2010. In particular, the poverty rate during the same period increased for Hispanics (from 25.3 percent to 26.6 percent), for African-Americans (from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent), and across the board for children under age 18 (from 20.7 percent to 22 percent).

These statistics are certainly disheartening. But while they reveal the magnitude of the challenges facing the CDFI industry today, they also show just how critical the work in low-income communities has become. Indeed, by financing new businesses, creating new jobs, building affordable housing, and supporting community-based social service organizations, CDFIs are extending lifelines to communities that have struggled for generations and have had to bear even heavier burdens since the recent economic downturn began.

I am very pleased to report that, at a time when the work of CDFIs is more important than ever, the CDFI industry is stronger than ever. As of December 31, 2011, the number of certified CDFIs is approaching 1,000, the most in the history of the CDFI Fund. In the past year, the CDFI Fund made the largest single round of monetary awards in our history through our flagship program, the CDFI Program, and saw very strong performances in our New Markets Tax Credit Program, Native Initiatives, and Bank Enterprise Award program. We also launched a number of innovative new initiatives, including the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, the Capacity Building Initiative, and we are diligently working on the implementation of the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program.

In 2011, the CDFI Fund also took important new steps to quantify the impact of the work of CDFIs. In December, we released seven years of data provided by CDFIs to our data collection system, the Community Investment Impact System. This collection of data-the most comprehensive we have ever released-provides detailed information about the activities and impact of hundreds of CDFIs, and offers clear evidence that CDFIs across the nation are fulfilling their mission to deliver financial products and services in underserved communities.

As the impact of the CDFI industry continues to grow, so does the appreciation for our work. The FY 2012 federal budget that was passed in December includes strong appropriations for the CDFI Fund and stands as a clear endorsement of the critical work that CDFIs are doing to create opportunity in communities where opportunity is needed most. I would like to thank the Administration and Congress for their continuing support.

2011 has been a very productive year for the CDFI industry, and I offer my heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of CDFIs throughout the country that have done so much to help the industry reach new heights this year. I would also like to thank the entire staff of the CDFI Fund, which has shouldered an even heavier workload in 2011 with extraordinary grace and skill.

May we all continue working together to help the CDFI industry grow even stronger in 2012.

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