CDFI Impact Blog



Welcome to the new CDFI Fund website! to the new CDFI Fund website!<div class="ExternalClass074C17A5D0564DEC857FFA1BD0FAA1EC"><p>I hope you enjoy the new site, which was designed to better serve YOU, the CDFI Fund’s applicants and awardees and members of the public, as you look for more information about our programs. There may be a whole new look and feel, but the same in-depth information you’ve come to expect from the CDFI Fund is still here.</p><p>If you’ve come to the website before in the past year, you most likely encountered a survey asking your opinion on our old website. We listened to you, and took your feedback into account as we designed this website to be more user-friendly and to have a greater emphasis on the story of CDFIs and CDEs and how they are revitalizing our nation’s low-income communities. </p><p>One way we’re going to do that is through the CDFI Fund’s new Impact Blog. The blog is where we will be showcasing success stories from CDFIs and CDEs across the country, as well as highlighting areas of interest for our award programs. Expect to see stories of the impact CDFIs and CDEs make across the country featured here in the coming months.</p><p>Other improvements include: </p><ul><li>The introduction of “How to Apply” steps for our programs to organize our guidance based upon the stages of the application or award processes; </li><li>Clear navigation through the site and different pages; and </li><li>Robust search and filter functions to help you find the exact document you need.</li></ul><p>Stay tuned as we continue to improve the site and our virtual tools in general, especially in the near future as we officially launch our new Awards Management Information System, AMIS. AMIS will be replacing myCDFIFund, and will allow for the submission of online certification and program applications and the easy maintenance of organizational data. Expect to see more information about AMIS soon. </p><p>One more thing – you may still encounter that feedback survey popping up on the new website. If you do, I hope you take a minute to provide us some additional feedback on the new design. We are continually striving to improve our customer service, and this coordinated effort to bring you modern tools for interacting with and receiving information from the CDFI Fund is a big step forward.</p> </div>Annie Donovan2015-09-16T12:00:00ZPrograms and Initiatives11
Program Notes: Checking in with Native Initiatives Notes: Checking in with Native Initiatives<div class="ExternalClassD20E0A45160B4D609466FA461EF2C3F2"><p>As we come to the end of National Native Heritage Month, I want to take a moment to highlight the CDFI Fund’s recent activities dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities nationwide. </p><p>I recently was honored to participate in the <a href="" target="_blank">2016 Native Convening in Atlanta</a>. It was an opportunity to have a fantastic, engaged conversation around community development in Native Communities and the work of Native Community Development Financial Institutions (Native CDFIs). </p><p>One of the topics for the Convening was the new <a href="/programs-training/Programs/native-initiatives/Pages/native-communities-study.aspx" target="_blank">“Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities” report</a> (the Report), commissioned by the CDFI Fund and published by the Native Nations Institute with support from the Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. The CDFI Fund commissioned the Report as a follow-up to its 2001 Native American Lending Study, which analyzed access to capital and financial services in Native Communities, identified barriers to access, and provided options to address the barriers.</p><p>At the Convening, I found that the Report sparked discussion around how we can better coordinate with Tribal entities and governments and encourage the development of Native entrepreneurs, as well as the overall state of the Native CDFI industry.</p><p>One of the key takeaways from the new Report is that while barriers to capital and credit still exist in Native Communities, Native CDFIs are playing a critical role in raising the financial capability of their communities and increasing local access to credit. Native CDFIs are truly making a difference.</p><p>I am proud of that, and of the role the CDFI Fund has played in supporting the growth and ability of Native CDFIs to provide critical financial services, business and homeownership loans, and financial education in Native Communities. </p><p>The Report also found that data on financial barriers and financial services in these communities is still difficult to come by, which will be a challenge for the CDFI Fund and for CDFIs going forward. We are making progress on that front, however. In 2016, the CDFI Fund awarded First Nations Oweesta Corporation a prize through our <a href="/news-events/news/Pages/news-detail.aspx?NewsID=230" target="_blank">2016 CDFI Prize Competition </a>for their proposal to develop Opportunities Through Impact System (OTIS), an impact tracking platform designed specifically for Native CDFIs. The goal of the OTIS platform is to provide the technological resources—combined with the technical assistance of First Nations Oweesta—to help Native CDFIs demonstrate their impact in their communities. I look forward to seeing what they are able to achieve. </p><p>I believe the Report will continue to drive discussion about the best ways to spur economic growth in Native Communities, and the CDFI Fund is thoughtfully considering the Report’s findings as <a href="/news-events/Pages/story-detail.aspx?StoryID=6" target="_blank">we plan our initiatives for the next few years</a>. </p><p>I don’t want us to lose sight of what we have achieved so far, however. We are still finding success and impact with our Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program). We had eleven first-time awardees in the <a href="/news-events/Pages/news-detail.aspx?NewsID=231" target="_blank">2016 round of the NACA Program </a>– a sizable achievement considering there were only 38 awardees in total. And our “Building Native CDFIs’ Sustainability and Impact” training series, which wrapped up in 2016, provided more than 2,300 hours of direct technical assistance and coaching to Native CDFIs. As we look to 2017 and beyond, I am dedicated to providing quality training and assistance to Native CDFIs, and to finding new ways we can encourage economic growth and prosperity in Native Communities nationwide. </p><p>Be sure to check out the “<a href="" target="_blank">Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities</a>” report and the CDFI Fund’s <a href="/news-events/Pages/story-detail.aspx?StoryID=6" target="_blank">Strategic Plan </a>to learn more. </p><p> <i>Amber Kuchar-Bell is the CDFI Fund’s Program Manager for the CDFI Program and Native Initiatives</i></p></div>Amber Kuchar-Bell2016-11-29T19:00:00ZPrograms and Initiatives20GP0|#12da016b-d497-4568-a2bf-23bc3f22d03c;L0|#012da016b-d497-4568-a2bf-23bc3f22d03c|Native Communities;GTSet|#52f34ab0-6f81-4fe6-b393-2715c7089532
Why We are Re-examining CDFI Certification We are Re-examining CDFI Certification <div class="ExternalClass4149CA318681437AA4D120AC2026F4C9"><p>In October 2016, the CDFI Fund released a five-year strategic plan.  <a href="/Documents/Final%20Strategic%20Plan%20102516.pdf" target="_blank"> You can read the plan here</a>.  One of the opportunities we saw was the need to re-examine our CDFI certification policies so that the certification reflects the flexibility needed to reach effectively into every community that CDFIs can serve - to more nimbly respond to changes in the financial services sector while still adhering to the primary mission of community development.</p><p>We believe that engagement of the CDFI Fund network, practitioners, and the public is a vital part of this effort, so we are calling for the public’s thoughts and ideas about CDFI Certification.  On January 6, the CDFI Fund issued a Request for Information (RFI), which was published in the <a href="" target="_blank">Federal Register</a>. </p><p>Certification as a CDFI is the first step many community–based organizations take to access CDFI Fund programs and training.  Since the CDFI Fund certified its first CDFIs more than 20 years ago, their population has grown from just under 200 certified organizations in 1997 to more than 1,000 today, with total combined assets in excess of $100 billion.  While this is great news, the financial sector continues to evolve and there remains room for growth of the CDFI Fund network. Having the right certification policies will aid in this effort.</p><p>CDFI investment and lending activity touches just about every facet of finance—including lending to microenterprises and entrepreneurs; commercial and residential real estate; infrastructure investment; and financial literacy training and counseling—all of which focus on providing access to critically needed capital and credit to businesses and families overlooked by the greater economic mainstream.  Last year alone, CDFIs originated over $3.6 billion in loans and investments; financed 33,500 units of affordable housing; and made loans to over 11,000 small businesses.  This growth is a reflection of the critical demand for the vital financial services provided by CDFIs, as well as the impact they have in underserved communities. </p><p>CDFIs have matured and evolved over the past two decades, as have the tools and opportunities available to them.  The processes and policies of CDFI certification, originally established in the 1990s, need to ensure that CDFIs are able to develop operating models, products, and services to take advantage of these new tools and opportunities in order to meet the needs of underserved and distressed communities while still meeting the statutory requirements for certification.</p><p>The CDFI Fund has heard from organizations that are having difficulty utilizing new tools and growing to scale while still maintaining their CDFI certification under existing policies.  For example, new financing technologies create the potential for mission-driven organizations like CDFIs to extend their reach and impact in order to improve access to financial products and services for underserved communities and populations wherever they are. </p><p>This raises questions, however, of whether CDFI certification – particularly in terms of a CDFI’s ability to define a Target Market and demonstrate accountability to that Target Market – is currently designed to enable such scope, which was neither possible nor envisioned when the certification criteria were first established. </p><p>For instance, there may be a certified CDFI that has long worked in a local or statewide Investment Area that is growing in volume of activity as well as in the sophistication of their financing operation.  However, if this CDFI upgrades its technical ability and begins to underwrite products for customers nationwide, in areas far beyond its historic geographic footprint, it may create a challenge for the CDFI to maintain its CDFI certification. </p><p>To meet the accountability test for CDFI certification, CDFI Fund policy currently requires the CDFI to include members on its governing and/or advisory board(s) who are residents or otherwise that can represent the needs of the residents of the CDFI’s Investment Area and/or the CDFI’s Targeted Population(s).  Although the CDFI in this example historically has provided appropriate accountability through its governing board, it now would be challenged to include sufficient representation to demonstrate accountability to the communities it would be serving with a nationwide Investment Area.  However, the CDFI is still a mission-driven organization, and the increased volume from an expanded geographic market will likely strengthen their ability to further achieve their mission. </p><p>To help explore circumstances such as this one, the CDFI Fund is seeking feedback on questions such as “How should a CDFI demonstrate accountability to a national Target Market, in particular an Investment Area national in scope?   Should there be a requirement to have local accountability to supplement a national governing or advisory board?  In this context, how should the term “local” be defined?”</p><p>The CDFI Fund will tackle these and other questions – such as how the primary mission test should be met or what the criteria should be for serving Investment Areas and Targeted Populations -- when reviewing the certification criteria. </p><p>CDFI Certification represents the backbone of the nation’s on-the-ground community development finance infrastructure, and there is an enduring need to ensure this network is relevant, responsive, reliable, and representative of the CDFI Fund’s community development mission.  We hope to receive thoughtful feedback from CDFIs, community development practitioners, and the general public on how we can improve and modernize the CDFI certification process.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">View the full Federal Register notice here</a>.  Comments are due by March 10, 2017. </p><p><i>David Meyer is the Manager of the CDFI Fund’s Office of Certification, Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation. </i></p> </div>2017-01-18T20:06:00ZPrograms and Initiatives21GP0|#381b3368-a6d1-4ab9-9f3d-370d1a7e113c;L0|#0381b3368-a6d1-4ab9-9f3d-370d1a7e113c|Framework for the Future;GTSet|#52f34ab0-6f81-4fe6-b393-2715c7089532;GP0|#c8a5d5bc-32cc-47a9-88a8-702f1f974786;L0|#0c8a5d5bc-32cc-47a9-88a8-702f1f974786|CDFI Certification