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
Local Impact of CDFIs in Milwaukee and Chicago Impact of CDFIs in Milwaukee and Chicago<div class="ExternalClass2FE67FA13C5143AFAEAF5FEAF6B800CA"><p>Just before Thanksgiving, I visited Milwaukee and Chicago and had the opportunity to witness the impact that CDFIs are making in those great cities. CDFIs nationwide are building businesses, creating jobs, and developing housing, and the CDFIs in Milwaukee and Chicago are no exception.</p><p><img class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="Image of Next Door in Wisconsin" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Project%20Images/Next%20Door%20WI%20Nov2015%20small.jpg" style="margin:5px;" />In Milwaukee, I visited Next Door, Inc. Next Door is an early education provider that has worked with thousands of children and families to give them the skills they need to achieve sustainable success in school and in life. Next Door’s mission is to support the intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional development of children so they become self-sufficient, contributing members of the community.</p><p>Forward Community Investments, a Wisconsin-based CDFI and CDE, provided New Markets Tax Credits to help Next Door expand its Head Start and Early Head Start programs into a larger building. When the renovation of the 103,000 square foot building is complete, there will be space for 20 new classrooms, a children’s kitchen, a drama and art studio, and multi-purpose rooms.</p><p>What was most impressive to me about Next Door’s programming is that it goes beyond the child to include the whole family. They start with pregnant moms and support them through birth and the critical early years of their child’s development. They also have programs targeted specifically to dads!</p><p>I also met the inspiring <a href="" target="_blank">Genyne Edwards</a>, who runs P3 Development Group. P3 Development Group is a small consulting business that is focused on community development solutions for Milwaukee. Organizations such as United Way and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee have used P3 Development Group’s services to help them identify gaps and opportunities in the programs they provide to the local community. And now Genyne has been able to purchase her own office space, with the help of Legacy Redevelopment Corporation, which will enable her to continue to facilitate transformative change in Milwaukee.</p><p><img class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="Image of Bronzeville Jerk Shack" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Project%20Images/Chicago%20Tour%20Nov2015%208_small.jpg" style="margin:5px;" />In Chicago, I experienced a wide range of CDFI projects on the South Side of the city because many CDFIs collaborated to plan and execute the tour. We all hopped on a big bus and toured over a dozen sites. For example, Bronzeville Cookin’s Jerk Shack, the home of delicious Jamaican street food. Founder Bernard Loyd is a visionary leader who is using food as a tool for community development. He has said, “the path to good community goes through good food.” We also saw Stony Island Arts Bank, a formerly abandoned building turned into a neighborhood space that serves as a repository for African American culture and history. Both of these projects wouldn’t have come to fruition without the patience and persistence of Chicago Community Loan Fund.</p><p>We also visited Pullman Park in Chicago, a mixed-use development that will bring new retail, affordable housing, and park space to an historic part of the South Side. Pullman Park is possible thanks to New Markets Tax Credit investments from Chicago-area organizations, such as the Chicago Neighborhood Initiative, and will address the needs of an underserved area.</p><p>It is so energizing to see the impact CDFIs make locally, and how communities and lives have been transformed by CDFIs. At every project I visited, it was clear that CDFIs are working at the intersection of people and place, not just financing tangible assets, but seeding opportunities for future generations to thrive.</p></div>Annie Donovan2015-11-30T21:00:00ZLocal Impact13GP0|#5c568afc-7fff-4133-ab30-b833f3fd3a3f;L0|#05c568afc-7fff-4133-ab30-b833f3fd3a3f|Illinois;GTSet|#52f34ab0-6f81-4fe6-b393-2715c7089532;GP0|#78de02a6-ea08-4eec-90a2-57d6bb226cb7;L0|#078de02a6-ea08-4eec-90a2-57d6bb226cb7|Wisconsin;GP0|#6739e502-ad8d-4e57-bade-8d5d363e66c7;L0|#06739e502-ad8d-4e57-bade-8d5d363e66c7|In the Field
Community Development Financial Institutions Finding Innovative Ways to Build Climate Resilience Development Financial Institutions Finding Innovative Ways to Build Climate Resilience<div class="ExternalClassB3799676ECF648E1997925A5E2CF4851"><p><i>This blog was originally posted on the <a href="" target="_blank">White House Blog </a>on May 26, 2016.</i></p> <p>Last month marked an historic moment in the global fight against climate change. On Earth Day, Secretary Kerry joined nearly 170 countries in signing the Paris climate agreement. That’s the largest number of countries that have ever signed an international agreement in one day. While the signing of the agreement is a great turning point in our global fight, there’s more work to do. Communities across the globe are having to make difficult decisions daily as they experience the impacts of climate change. Not only are these impacts immediate and relevant to all Americans today, but our most vulnerable populations continue to bear the worst impacts, despite having the least resources to cope with them.</p><p>Increasingly extreme weather, wildfires, drought, sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change have exacerbated impacts on vulnerable populations - including children, the elderly, urban and low income communities, pregnant women, outdoor workers, and people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, studies showed that minority and low-income populations were not only among the worst affected, but also required much more time to recover from the storms due to limited resources, capacity, and other challenges.</p><p>As we think about the pressing needs of these vulnerable populations, there are three realities that we should keep in mind: (1) low-income communities cannot be forgotten, (2) we should use every tool in our toolbox, including innovative partnerships to finance resilience, and (3) our work should be community-driven and locally-specific. </p><p>There is one group that is uniquely poised where these three realities intersect: Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). </p><p>CDFIs come in a diversity of forms. They can be banks, credit unions, loan funds, or venture capital providers. They support a wide range of projects and activities. Regardless of their form, CDFIs share a common goal of promoting economic revitalization and community development in low-income communities through mission-driven, locally-informed investments. With over 1,000 CDFIs operating nationwide, there are significant opportunities for CDFIs to build climate resilience into ongoing projects and support local efforts to adapt to a changing climate. Many CDFIs are already doing so – in many different ways. Here are just three examples to illustrate that point. </p><p>Issues of climate change have long been central to the work of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a CDFI based in Maine, where changes to the temperatures and salinities of the Gulf of Maine waters are disrupting normal ecological systems. Many fisheries have declined to unsustainably low levels, so CEI has focused efforts to address the economic survival of fishing-dependent communities by investing to support a diverse aquaculture that supports alternative income streams for fishing families. </p><p>Many CDFIs have long been partners in our national efforts to reduce the carbon pollution that is causing climate change – through energy efficient retrofits and transit oriented development – but there are examples where CDFIs have taken that work one step further to also help communities adapt and prepare for future impacts of climate change. Following Hurricane Katrina, AMCREF Community Capital, a Community Development Entity based in New Orleans, provided nearly $13 million of New Markets Tax Credit financing to create 150 affordable homes that used environmentally safe materials and reduced homeowner energy costs by 75% (LEED Platinum). The homes were also raised to avoid floods and built to withstand hurricane force winds, rebuilding in a way that will be safer for the long term. </p><p>Craft3, a nonprofit CDFI working in Oregon and Washington, partnered with The Freshwater Trust in 2013 to finance a project to restore 30-miles of streamside vegetation in Oregon. Rivers across the country are increasingly too warm for native fish. Historically, to address this problem, cities have built cooling towers or chillers to cool the discharge from wastewater treatment facilities, but The Freshwater Trust’s green infrastructure solution of planting trees to create shade and offset the temperature impacts of the warm, but clean, water being discharged provides long-term environmental benefits not achieved with traditional, more expensive grey infrastructure solutions. </p><p>These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Projects like these serve as models for how CDFIs can help communities become more resilient. This Administration wants to continue working with the CDFI community to lift up and learn from promising and innovative practices. One approach that is under consideration by the CDFI Fund is to offer training in resilience financing through its Capacity Building Initiative so that even greater numbers of CDFIs will understand and help address the vulnerabilities that the communities they serve face as a result of climate change. There’s much work ahead but we are hopeful that our continued partnership with CDFIs will provide critical lessons that will help build the business case for resilient investment, and more importantly, help support our nation’s most vulnerable residents. </p><p><i>Annie Donovan is the Director of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. <br> <i>Christy Goldfuss is Managing Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.</i></i></p><i> </i></div>Annie Donovan2016-05-26T15:00:00ZLocal Impact16GP0|#6739e502-ad8d-4e57-bade-8d5d363e66c7;L0|#06739e502-ad8d-4e57-bade-8d5d363e66c7|In the Field;GTSet|#52f34ab0-6f81-4fe6-b393-2715c7089532