​Since joining the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Develop-
ment Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund as its Director in February of 2007, the CDFI Fund has been focused on a variety of efforts to further our mission of expanding the capacity of financial institutions to provide credit, capital, and financial services to underserved populations and economically distressed communities in the United States.

As I mentioned in my testimony before the U.S. Congress in March of 2007, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's top priority is keeping the American economy strong for our workers, our families, and our businesses. The CDFI Fund has a vital role in helping to fulfill this priority by encouraging and creating more opportunity in America's neediest communities. I would like to highlight just a few of our recent efforts.

We are committed to helping those affected by Hurricane Katrina. In order to better understand the good work of our CDFIs in this area, I requested that the CDFI Fund's Community Development Advisory Board hold its annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was the first time that the Advisory Board has met outside of Washington, D.C., and they saw first hand how the CDFI Fund's CDFI Programs are providing critically needed financial education and services to the Gulf Coast.

Advisory Board Chairman Bill Bynum and CDFI Fund staff also visited Mississippi, where we met with families who received assistance from organizations supported by the CDFI Fund and visited a financial counseling center that is helping Mississippi families as they rebuild their homes.

CDFI Fund Director Kimberly A. Reed (4th from right) meets with Ms. Merle Crenshaw, a resident in Pass Christian, MS, whose new home was made possible through the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta’s (ECD) “Home Again” program. ECD is a certified CDFI participating in the immediate and the long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.(Left to Right: Peter Dugas, CDFI Fund; Jessica Lawson, Home Again/ECD; Scott Berman, CDFI Fund; CDFI Fund Director Kim Reed; Ms. Merle Crenshaw; Bill Bynum, President & CEO of ECD and HOPE Community Credit Union; and Bill Luecht, CDFI Fund.)

During this tour of the Gulf Coast, I also had the honor of participating in the ground breaking ceremony of an affordable housing development in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, made possible through the CDFI Fund’s New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) Program. To date, the CDFI Fund has awarded $600 million in NMTCs focused exclusively on the rebuilding and reconstruction of the Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone, and we will announce the remaining $400 million this October, for a total investment of $1 billion in GO Zone NMTC allocations.

The CDFI Fund also is focused on serving our Native American communities. On July 6, 2007, we announced the first of our 2007 national program awards – the Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program – at the base of the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. Under the 2007 round of the NACA Program, the CDFI Fund awarded more than $3.6 million to 19 organizations serving Native American or Alaskan Native communities in 12 states. These awards provide important financial education, create critically needed jobs, and help Native families and communities build personal wealth. The CDFI Fund is proud that, in five short years, the number of Native CDFIs has grown from 14 to 43 – a 307 percent increase.

Director Kim Reed visited the offices of Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial, Inc., a certified Native CDFI and nonprofit housing loan fund that provides housing and land loans on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. (Standing, left to right: Bryan Mercier, CDFI Fund; Ruth Jaure, CDFI Fund; Carol Lakota, Mazaska; Colleen Steele, Mazaska; Pamela Red Cloud, Mazaska; and Mazaska Executive Director Emma "Pinky" Clifford. Seated, left to right: Kim Reed, CDFI Fund; and Rosemarie Dillingham, Mazaska.)

I want to give the dedicated, hard-working CDFI Fund staff a big thank you for making this day possible, as they fulfilled one of my first requests as the new Director of the CDFI Fund: “Of all the 2007 CDFI Fund award announcements, let's show our support for the Native American community by making the NACA Program award announcement separate, first, and early.” I developed this priority after a discussion with Congressman Dennis Rehberg of Montana during my Congressional testimony, where we both agreed on the importance of financial services in Native American communities.

In addition to our recent NACA Program award announcement, CDFI Fund staff also participated in a “Roundtable Discussion on Financial Education in Native Communities” hosted by Treasury’s Office of Financial Education, and, in June of 2007, we participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Seven Directions Native American Health Center in Oakland, California. This project, which will provide affordable health care services to a needy community, was made possible through investments made under the CDFI Fund’s NMTC Program.

In order to ensure that we continue to strive towards fulfilling our mission, the CDFI Fund is now focused on finalizing the review of applications for the FY 2007 CDFI Program awards, and will announce the recipients in September. We also are busy educating the public about the upcoming round of the FY 2008 CDFI Program and NACA Program.

Individuals interested in learning more about the FY 2008 round of the CDFI Program, NACA Program, and the process to become certified as a CDFI, can do so by either watching a topic specific webcast or by attending one of several CDFI Fund application workshops that will be held in select cities across the nation in September. Information on these events is available at

As Director, I am committed to being citizen-centered and responsive to communities that we serve or should be serving. For example, in response to stakeholder requests, on July 1, the CDFI Fund announced that it would now accept CDFI certification applications year-round. CDFI certification is a designation conferred by the CDFI Fund and is a requirement for accessing financial and technical award assistance from the CDFI Fund through the CDFI Program, NACA Program, and certain benefits under the Bank Enterprise Award Program to support an organization's established community development financing programs.

Our staff has worked hard to increase the number of states in which the CDFI Fund will be providing its annual application workshops, and also are focused on innovative outreach efforts such as webcasts. I appreciate their efforts to reach out to more communities and sharing my vision of ensuring that every distressed community in the nation has the opportunity to benefit from our programs.

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