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Community Highlights

Community Development Convenes CDFIs

CDFI Survey

The Richmond Fed launched its fourth annual Investing in Rural America Conference recently with a half-day workshop that educated attendees about rural-serving Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and their unique role in the community development finance landscape.

Nearly 100 policymakers, funding organization staff members, community development finance leaders and others participated in the April 11 workshop, which preceded the formal daylong conference. They received an overview of rural-serving CDFI operations across the Fifth District, including how important these institutions are to providing funding opportunities that other lenders may forgo – such us offering pandemic-era programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – and loan access that has made it possible for customers to become homeowners, start or sustain a small business, and secure reliable transportation to work. CDFI leaders also shared their challenges, which has included retaining staff due to a competitive employment market and staying abreast of rapidly changing technology.

The Bank’s Community Development staff reviewed key findings from the 2021 CDFI survey during the session. The Federal Reserve fields the survey every other year, and is currently soliciting participation in the 2023 survey. Following the report, workshop participants engaged in facilitated conversations that explored key areas of CDFIs’ work – securing operational funding and lending capital, developing partnerships, and evaluating performance and measuring impact.

“CDFIs have been providing access to financial products and services to underserved low-income communities with formal government support since 1994,” said Richmond Fed Community Development Regional Manager Jarrod Elwell. “During COVID, they demonstrated their potential impact in the stabilization, growth and recovery in neighborhoods across the nation’s urban and rural communities. CDFI’s are a critical resource in underbanked communities, and with additional funding could serve a greater role in closing gaps in access to capital and credit.”

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