CDFI Impact Blog



CDFI Fund Weighs Public Input from Listening Tour Fund Weighs Public Input from Listening Tour<div class="ExternalClassD7001069D8E146B68268D5AB6DD80CB9"><p> <em>​This was originally posted on <a href="" target="_blank">Treasury's Notes blog</a> on August 28, 2015.</em></p><p>This month, Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) wrapped up its National Listening Tour. We spent the summer soliciting public input regarding a new strategic framework for the CDFI Fund. These forums provided an opportunity for constructive dialogue that will build on the growth and success of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Community Development Entities (CDEs), and the communities that they serve. Using what we heard, we will be creating a “<em>Framework for the Future</em>,” which will be a set of strategic directives to guide our work over the next five years.</p><p>At the CDFI Fund, we are mindful of the tremendous responsibility that we play in promoting economic revitalization in our nation’s low-income communities. That is why we convened these sessions to hear from stakeholders firsthand their thoughts on our strategic direction over the next five years. More than 300 people attended sessions in five cities and over 70 others joined me on two conference calls for those serving rural communities in the continental U.S. and in Hawaii, Alaska, and the territories.</p><p>We asked participants to weigh in on six areas of inquiry, including: </p><ul><li>​How can the CDFI Fund support the use of data to strengthen the industry and increase our impact? </li><li>How can we best support CDFIs to continue to innovate? What will it take to scale solutions we know work? </li><li>What more can we do to reach communities that need CDFIs but are either not being served by them, or have limited access to CDFI Fund support? </li><li>Are our programs effective and working optimally for communities? </li><li>How is our customer service? What needs to be improved? </li><li>What issues should be on our radar screen but are not?</li></ul><p>Some highlights of what I heard are:</p><ul><li>​CDFIs appreciate the flexibility and usefulness of our programs, especially financial assistance awards; </li><li>CDFIs use our awards to support a wide diversity of community development strategies, from consumer services and credit, to micro and small businesses, to community facilities and affordable housing; </li><li>CDFIs appreciate the knowledge and responsiveness of our staff; and </li><li>CDFIs would like more transparency, to shorten our award cycle, and to make our data collection system easier to use. </li></ul><p>This feedback comes at a pivotal time for the CDFI Fund. Next month will mark the end of our 20th year, and we have accomplished so much over that time. We’ve grown a nationwide network of almost 1,000 certified CDFIs, and we’ve awarded over $46 billion in monetary awards, tax credit authority, and bond guarantees. The CDFIs and CDEs that received these resources have delivered vital lifelines to communities. As we look to the future, we know that there is so much more to be done to bring economic opportunities to underserved urban and rural areas of the nation.</p><p>We thank those who participated in and hosted our Listening Tour, especially the Federal Reserve Banks of San Francisco, Kansas City/Denver, Chicago, New York and Atlanta.</p><p> <em>Annie Donovan is the Director of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund at the U.S. Treasury Department.​</em></p></div>Annie Donovan2015-08-28T17:36:00ZFramework for the Future10GP0|#6739e502-ad8d-4e57-bade-8d5d363e66c7;L0|#06739e502-ad8d-4e57-bade-8d5d363e66c7|In the Field;GTSet|#52f34ab0-6f81-4fe6-b393-2715c7089532
The CDFI Fund's Guiding Principles CDFI Fund's Guiding Principles<div class="ExternalClassD8FB58389F624801BD7767F0E82968CE"><p>Today I spoke at the 2016 CDFI Coalition Institute to discuss the CDFI Fund’s recent accomplishments and our upcoming objectives. You can read my<a href="/Lists/CDFI%20Speeches%20%20Testimony/DispForm.aspx?ID=47" target="_blank"> full speech here</a>, but I wanted to take a moment to emphasize an important development for the CDFI Fund that I discussed: the CDFI Fund’s Framework for the Future and our new Guiding Principles. </p><p>Continuous growth in the community development field requires ever increasing support and input from CDFIs and CDEs across the nation. To that end, in FY 2015 we began a strategic effort to develop a comprehensive plan to support this growth. Weighing the generous public input we received from our Listening Tour last summer, we have created the Framework for the Future – our strategic roadmap. This Framework is built upon five Guiding Principles that drive our strategic efforts to increase impact in underserved communities:</p><ol><li><p>Increase the impact of the CDFI Fund network by supporting the growth, reach, and performance of CDFIs and CDEs.</p></li><li><p>Foster a diversity of CDFI and CDE activities and geographies while holding certified CDFIs and CDEs to high standards of integrity.</p></li><li><p>Build the capacity of the CDFI Fund and its network to capture, produce, and utilize data to improve decision-making, performance, and accountability.</p></li><li><p>Ease the customer experience and create on-ramps for new and emerging CDFIs and CDEs to access CDFI Fund programs. </p></li><li><p>Promote awareness of CDFIs in order to expand their access to new resources.</p></li></ol><p>The CDFI Fund is moving at a rapid pace to help CDFIs and CDEs improve the lives of people living in distressed communities throughout America. Our efforts are all geared to help our network of financial institutions maximize economic impact critical to creating an inclusive economy that helps every American prosper. We will be utilizing our five Guideposts as we develop a five year strategic plan. I thank everyone who has provided us with input over the past year, whether through the Listening Tour or otherwise. This input is driving our efforts. I look forward to continued engagement in the year to come!</p> </div>Annie Donovan2016-03-09T16:26:00ZFramework for the Future14
On Cue: The CDFI Fund's Innovation Challenge Cue: The CDFI Fund's Innovation Challenge<div class="ExternalClassAA5A0048A703431BB57CF197AE8E35E4"><p> <i> By: William Girardo</i> </p> <p>In November 2015, the CDFI Fund <a href="/news-events/news/Pages/news-detail.aspx?NewsID=185" target="_blank">announced</a> that the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) had won its 2015 Innovation Challenge. The CDFI Fund created the Innovation Challenge to seek new ways to expand or increase investments in underserved communities across the country. AEO won the Challenge with a proposal to develop a screening and assessment tool to connect small businesses searching for loans with a CDFI that may be able to meet their needs when a bank or other lenders cannot.</p><p>The Innovation Challenge directly supports the first of the <a href="/news-events/Pages/story-detail.aspx?StoryID=4" target="_blank">CDFI Fund’s Guiding Principles</a>: “Increase the impact of the CDFI Fund network by supporting the growth, reach, and performance of CDFIs and CDEs.” AEO proposed to design, build, and demonstrate a web-based solution that allows financial institutions and other lenders to direct small business credit applicants they can’t serve to CDFIs that can provide safe and affordable loans and financial education opportunities. If successful, the solution may expand the reach of CDFIs and provide more small businesses with a path to capital. </p><p>The one-year initiative is structured in three phases: solution design, proof of concept, and lessons learned. To date, AEO has completed the solution design phase and is moving into the proof of concept phase. More than a dozen banks, non-bank lenders, and industry experts shared insights in the design phase about their processes and what “pain points” need to be solved to allow AEO’s solution to work for them. Banks and non-bank lenders need the solution to avoid “double-declines,” wherein clients they refer to another lender are declined again: it’s an experience that frustrates clients and can affect how they feel about the lender. CDFIs need the solution to lower their costs of customer acquisition and support the scaling up of their own application processing: it reflects their goals of better meeting the needs of different customer segments in their target markets. All stakeholders expressed a need for more and better data to make investment and resource allocation decisions. </p><p>Now, as the project moves into the proof of concept phase, the AEO team has started working with four “early adopter” CDFIs to test the viability of a shared-services platform for CDFIs and other financial institutions. The participating CDFIs are Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (Georgia), the Intersect Fund (New Jersey), Justine PETERSEN (Missouri), and LIFT Fund (Texas). The goal is to develop a platform that could be adopted or replicated as an industry-standard solution. </p><p>At the end of the project, AEO will share lessons-learned to strengthen future efforts to meet needs in low-wealth communities, mobilize investment, and make better use of scarce resources. If the developed platform proves to be viable, it will be made available to any certified CDFI who wants to use it, expanding access to capital for small businesses operating in economically distressed areas.</p><p>The CDFI Fund will provide another update on the Innovation Challenge later this year. In the meantime, follow along with AEO’s efforts (which they have named Connecting Underserved Entrepreneurs, or Project CUE) by reading their <a href="" target="_blank">blog series</a>. </p><p> <i>William Girardo is a Portfolio Manager for the CDFI Fund’s Community Development Financial Institutions Program and Native Initiatives.</i></p></div>2016-04-15T12:00:00ZFramework for the Future15GP0|#0eabfb68-e7e3-40d3-8ca9-949a19428ed8;L0|#00eabfb68-e7e3-40d3-8ca9-949a19428ed8|Innovation Challenge;GTSet|#52f34ab0-6f81-4fe6-b393-2715c7089532