Since its creation in 1994, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has awarded a total of $864 million to promote economic revitalization and community development through the CDFI Program, Bank Enterprise Award (BEA) Program, and Native Initiatives, which includes the Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program. CDFIs have provided significant amounts of loans, investments, financial services, and technical assistance to underserved populations and low-income communities across the nation.

In addition, the CDFI Fund has allocated $16 billion in tax credit authority to community development entities (CDEs) through the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program. These allocations have helped to support private-sector investments in businesses and real estate projects located in distressed urban and rural communities.

In order to better assist CDFIs, CDEs, and those organizations interested in certifications or applying to our programs, last year the CDFI Fund held 32 application workshops across the nation. These application workshops are intended to increase the quality of applications, and to allow CDFI Fund staff interaction directly with community and economic development professionals in the field.

Unfortunately, not everyone interested is able to attend an application workshop, especially potential applicants who are located in rural areas or closely involved in the day-to-day operation of their organizations. In order to accommodate these individuals and organizations, the CDFI Fund has been using technology to make information available to the public. We now provide Đ on the CDFI Fund's website Đ live and archived webcasts of application workshops for the CDFI Program, NACA Program, NMTC Program, and on the CDFI certification process. In total, these webcasts were viewed by over 3,000 people in 2007. We hope that you will continue to view the webcasts throughout the year. In addition, we are exploring other outreach strategies to reach those organizations that are interested in CDFI Fund programs.

The CDFI Fund has now completed its application intake for the FY 2008 funding rounds for all programs. Approximately $80 million will be awarded through our monetary programs, and $3.5 billion in tax credit authority will be made available through the NMTC Program.

I was very pleased to see, once again, the CDFI Fund has had a significant response from organizations requesting funding through the CDFI Program. We received 225 applications, which is a 22 percent increase over last year's round when we received 186 applications. Applicants requested a total of over $205.5 million in assistance, which is a 46 percent increase from last year's round when approximately $141 million was requested. In addition, we received 45 applications under the NACA Program, requesting a total of $17.1 million in funding to support Native Communities. Through the BEA Program, the CDFI Fund received a total of 59 applications.

The CDFI Fund has accepted 239 applications for the FY 2008 round of the NMTC Program, requesting a total of $21.3 billion in tax credit authority. In this round, there was no set-aside for investment in the Gulf Opportunity Zone. As in all of the prior rounds, the demand far outstrips the availability of tax credit authority.

We are currently reviewing applications for our four programs. The pools of readers for this year's applications have significant experience in the understanding of CDFIs, CDEs, the CDFI industry, and the field of community and economic development.

As the readers complete their application reviews and scoring, we will assess their recommendations, and complete the required compliance and internal checks. We received a significant increase in our FY 2008 appropriations (roughly double the programmatic funding that the CDFI Fund received last year), and we hope to make more and larger awards than last year, while still ensuring institutional and geographic diversity.

We expect to announce FY 2008 CDFI Program and NACA Program awards this summer. The NMTC Program allocatees will be announced in October, and the BEA Program awards will be announced in the Fall, or sooner.

As you know, we have been looking at ways in which we can shorten the time from application submission to award disbursement. Through this review of our internal processes, we aim to position the CDFI Fund and its programs for long-term growth. The staff is working diligently to build upon and improve the existing infrastructure so that we can most effectively administer our existing programs. These efforts will ensure that our awardees, and the communities that they serve, receive the resources that they need in a timely manner.

In addition, we have been focusing on improvements to the CDFI certification processes. Recognizing that the CDFI certification designation is a valuable "brand," we appreciate your willingness to comment so extensively on the questions recently posed in the Federal Register notice. Our objective in examining the CDFI certification process is to strengthen and continue to maintain the integrity of the CDFI certification brand. It is also a way for us to get your best thinking in order to provide clear and consistent guidance on CDFI certification, and to protect the designation's value. Now that the comment period has closed, we are currently reviewing all comments that we received. I would like to thank all of you who provided comments. I assure you that they will be used to develop a new certification application and update the policies and procedures for future CDFI certification applicants.

In closing, I would like to thank and recognize the CDFI Fund staff for their hard work and dedication. From the outside looking in, you may not fully understand or know how dedicated the staff is to serving the CDFI Fund's mission and in working with you. In a short time as the Director, I have seen firsthand the dedication of the CDFI Fund staff toward ensuring that CDFIs, CDEs, financial institutions, and others have the much needed capital and tax credits in order to benefit the country's low-income communities.

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