As we get deeper into 2021, I have heard from many of you asking when the application periods for the CDFI Fund’s various programs will open. I understand that in this difficult economic climate our programs are needed now more than ever. I also understand concerns that I have heard about the possibility that CDFIs and other community development organizations may have to work on multiple applications at the same time. In total, the CDFI Fund will have eight program rounds to administer over the course of this year—our six existing programs; the new Small Dollar Loan Program (SDL Program); and the $1.25 billion CDFI Rapid Response Program (CDFI RRP) for COVID-19 pandemic relief. In addition, we are also partnering with AmeriCorps on the Economic Mobility Corps, and taking initial steps to develop the new Minority Lending Program.
I also know that CDFIs are endeavoring to access and deploy resources made available by other federal offices, such as the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Treasury Department’s Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP), among other programs.
At the CDFI Fund, we know that it takes time and effort to complete and submit competitive applications. Unfortunately, avoiding overlap between this many program rounds is a nearly impossible task. However, I would like to take a moment to assure you that we are diligently working to accommodate your concerns by providing as much advance notice as possible of our anticipated program schedule, as well as taking steps to mitigate or minimize the burden on applicant organizations. Below I have outlined key updates and information on the rollout of these programs over the coming months.
CDFI Rapid Response Program (CDFI RRP): Our immediate priority is opening the CDFI RRP and making $1.25 billion in funding available to CDFIs, as quickly as possible, to assist communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CDFI RRP application will be made available later this month, and the CDFI Fund will use a formulaic approach to award funds to Certified CDFIs. As has been noted earlier, only Certified CDFIs will be eligible to apply for a CDFI RRP award. The application window will also be relatively brief. However, the application will focus on targeted financial data and information and will look quite familiar to those that regularly apply for a CDFI Program Financial Assistance (FA) or Technical Assistance (TA) award. This was an intentional effort to ensure that CDFIs can leverage their experience and familiarity with the FA and TA application process in requesting a RRP award.
The CDFI Fund will be conducting application webinars, soon after the application window is open, to provide applicants with an overview of the CDFI RRP application process. This timeline will allow the CDFI Fund to expedite its review process and make awards before this summer.
In the meantime, CDFIs are encouraged to take steps now to complete the prerequisites needed to apply for a CDFI RRP award. Completing these steps will ensure that applicants will not experience any delays in submitting a CDFI RRP application. To help further prepare interested applicants and provide additional information, the CDFI Fund will be holding a pre-application webinar on Thursday February 18, 2021.
Bank Enterprise Award Program (BEA Program): The CDFI Fund is not scheduled to open the fiscal year (FY) 2021 application until the second quarter this calendar year. The BEA Program application window is being shifted to minimize the number of program rounds that are open at the same time.
CDFI Bond Guarantee Program (BG Program): We expect to open the BG Program application the first quarter of this calendar year. The CDFI Fund, as we typically do with each new round of the BG Program, will hold application workshops for interested participants.
Capital Magnet Fund (CMF): The FY 2020 awards will be announced this month. The timing of the FY 2021 application round is still being planned. In addition, the CDFI Fund is currently seeking comments to the CMF Application as well as the Annual Performance Report, which are due March 1, 2021.
Community Development Financial Institutions Program (CDFI Program) & Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program): The FY 2021 CDFI Program and NACA Program applications for FA, supplemental FA, and TA awards will open soon. Unavoidably, the application window will be open during the same time as the CDFI RRP application. However, to minimize burden on organizations applying for both FA/TA and CDFI RRP awards, the data that will be collected in the CDFI RRP application is a subset of the data collected in the FA/TA application.
Further, the CDFI Fund will be holding the application window open for an additional two weeks (for roughly 75 days) to ensure organizations have ample time to submit a complete and thoroughly developed application. Interested FA and TA applicants are urged to begin preparing now to apply for the FY 2021 CDFI Program and NACA Program round.
New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program): The calendar year (CY) 2020 allocation awards will be announced in the summer. At this time it is unclear when the CY 2021 Allocation Application will be made available. However, the CDFI Fund is currently requesting comments on changes that are being proposed to the application—comments are due March 1, 2021.
Small Dollar Loan Program (SDL Program): The inaugural round of the SDL Program, with approximately $13.5 million available for awards, is scheduled to open in the spring. Awards will be announced before the end of the FY 2021.
Economic Mobility Corps (EMC): Applications for FY 2021 funding were due to AmeriCorps on January 6, 2021. AmeriCorps and the CDFI Fund are in the process of reviewing applications. Awards will be announced in the summer.
Minority Lending Program: Later this year, the CDFI Fund will begin the process to deploy additional resources ($1.75 billion) provided in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (P.L. 116-260) to support lending in minority communities and minority lending institutions.
I hope this provides a clear sense of the CDFI Fund’s operating plan going forward. However, as with any plan unexpected detours can arise. In the event there are large-scale revisions, we will work to provide updates and information on our programs as we are able. Again, we look forward to our continued partnerships and collaboration with CDFIs, CDEs, and the community development finance community.