The origin of the Native Initiatives can be traced back to 1994 when Congress mandated, through the CDFI Fund's authorizing statute, a study on the lending and investment practices in Native Communities. The findings revealed that Native American, Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian communities face unique challenges to economic growth. These obstacles include heightened barriers to accessing capital and basic financial services, as well as increased difficultly interacting with private and public sector programs.
With this in mind, the CDFI Fund created the Native Initiatives to further support the creation and expansion of Native CDFIs. Native CDFIs help Native Communities thrive and grow by increasing their access to credit, capital, and financial services. The Native Initiatives program uses a combination of financial, technical assistance, and training to build the capacity of CDFIs serving Native Communities.
Through the Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program),
Financial Assistance awards are made to Native CDFIs. These competitive awards are made in the form of loans, grants, equity investments, deposits, and credit union shares. By multiplying the impact of federal investment, Native CDFIs are able to pursue a variety of goals, from small business creation to affordable housing development, as well as other community development pursuits.
Healthy Food Financing Initiative - Financial Assistance awards are also offered for CDFIs that are interested in expanding their healthy food financing activities.
The NACA Program also provides
Technical Assistance grants, offered to Native CDFIs, Emerging Native CDFIs, and Sponsoring Entities (see eligibility below). Recipients may use Technical Assistance awards to increase their capacity to serve their communities and/or to create, or become Certified CDFIs.
By building the capacities of Native CDFIs, these mission-driven organizations can more effectively help create jobs, housing, and community facilities for Native Communities in need.
For more information, please see our
Native Initiatives Fact Sheet (English /
Español) and our
Healthy Food Financing Initiative Fact Sheet (English /
To be eligible for a Financial Assistance award through the NACA Program, your organization must be a Certified CDFI, and at least 50 percent of your activities must serve Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and/or Native Hawaiian communities.
The CDFI Fund also offers supplemental awards through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. CDFIs that are selected to receive a Financial Assistance award may also receive a Healthy Food Financing Initiative award to expand their healthy food financing activities.
Certified CDFIs, Emerging CDFIs, and Sponsoring Entities (organizations primarily serving Native Communities that propose to create a separate Certified CDFI) are eligible to apply for Technical Assistance awards. Emerging CDFIs must demonstrate that they have the ability to become a Certified CDFI within three years of receiving a Technical Assistance grant. Sponsoring Entities must must demonstrate the ability to create a new entity, which will become a certified CDFI within four years of receiving an award.
For more detailed information, please refer to the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA).
The Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities Report
For a detailed analysis of the local economies of Native Communities, please see
The Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities Report. The report provides quantitative research and analysis that can lead to actionable recommendations for improving access to capital and credit in Native Communities.