Last Monday marked the beginning of my tenure as the new Director of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund). I am truly honored to have been chosen for this critical position, and I am eager to work with the dedicated and talented staff of the CDFI Fund as our organization embarks upon its third decade of service to communities throughout the nation.
In my first staff meeting with the CDFI Fund's employees, I shared my belief that the CDFI Fund is a national treasure. Over the past twenty years, the CDFI Fund has fostered the growth of a community development finance industry that has been built through the innovation and determination of countless individuals dedicated to an inspired vision of the common good.
Since its creation, the CDFI Fund has awarded more than $2 billion to CDFIs all over the country. These institutions have used that money to provide capital to businesses and organizations, which has helped improve communities and grow local economies. And because of the CDFI Fund, financing and investing at the local level has been transformed.
When the first CDFI Fund awards were made, there were only 173 certified community development financial institutions in the United States and only two official CDFI Fund programs-the CDFI Program and the Bank Enterprise Award Program. Today there are nearly 1,000 certified CDFIs, and they are often the only sources of capital for borrowers in the communities they serve. In addition, due to its successful track record the CDFI Fund has also expanded its program offerings to include the Native American CDFI Assistance Program, the New Markets Tax Credit Program, and the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program.
We have built a strong foundation. Yet, despite all that we have accomplished, much more remains to be done. As those who work in low-income communities every day know all too well, our work will not be complete until economic opportunity is a reality for all.
So this is our challenge for the next decade-to create ways not only to protect the precious asset that we have created but also to leverage it for further progress.
As the Director of the CDFI Fund, I am committed to doing everything I can to help the CDFI industry progress through the next stage of its evolution. And I look forward to working with all of you who share the CDFI Fund's vision to bring opportunity and hope to America's distressed communities. I know that, working together, we will accomplish great things.