Sep 12, 2022
New York – The Citi Foundation today announced the 12 nonprofit organizations selected as the recipients of the $50 million Community Finance Innovation Fund. Building on Citi and the Citi Foundation’s long history of promoting financial inclusion, these grants will help bolster the work of these specialized organizations that have been an economic lifeline for communities across the U.S. hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.
According to the Financial Health Pulse 2022 U.S. Trends Report, also supported by the Citi Foundation, financial health in America declined across many demographic and socioeconomic groups over the past year. As the economic challenges of American households increase, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) play a critical role delivering credit and other asset-building financial services to unbanked and underbanked households and entrepreneurs in low-income communities and communities of color.
“Investing in Community Development Finance Institutions has been a long-time priority,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Head of Citi Community Investing and Development. “Through this new initiative, the Foundation is deepening this commitment by investing in the groundbreaking ideas that will help scale the community finance sector through innovation and capacity building.”
“With the Citi Foundation’s game-changing support, the National Bankers Community Alliance will have the resources and encouragement to invest in the crucial technological advancements MDIs need to better serve their communities,” said Nicole A. Elam, Executive Director of National Bankers Community Alliance and President and CEO of the National Bankers Association. “We are honored to work alongside the other visionary organizations of our cohort to pursue and run with the big ideas that will push the community finance sector forward.”
Through the Community Finance Innovation Fund, these organizations will work across four key areas to help positively transform community finance: technology and operational efficiencies; financial and risk-sharing models; human capital and talent development; and thought leadership and research.
“Like the constituents they serve, many community finance organizations have been challenged by the pandemic and need more resources and capacity to have greater impact.” said Donna Gambrell, CEO of Appalachian Community Capital and Board Chair of Opportunity Finance Network. “The Community Finance Innovation Fund is seeding bold ideas that have the potential to transform community finance in ways that will create exponential positive impact for these CDFIs, their clients, and the communities they serve.”
The following organizations and projects, listed by focus area, have been selected for the Community Finance Innovation Fund:
Technology and Operational Efficiency
Aeris Insight will add new functionality to its Aeris® Cloud, the most comprehensive database of CDFI loan fund performance. The new functionality will enable collection of custom datasets, aggregation and querying at the industry level that will provide the data necessary to meaningfully evaluate the effectiveness of CDFIs in delivering capital to diverse communities and projects.
California Association for Microenterprise Opportunity (CAMEO) will launch the country’s first CDFI shared services center offering emerging and mid-sized CDFIs a centralized resource to build their internal capacity in the areas of Human Resources, IT and Finance.
Credit Builders Alliance will establish a consumer lending bootcamp to work with CDFIs serving consumers located in credit deserts and interested in offering a responsible small dollar loan product to address the lack of affordable, entry-level, small dollar loan products for consumers with no or low credit scores.
National Bankers Community Alliance (NBCA) will launch a groundbreaking effort to help MDIs pursue digital modernization through access to tailored consulting, technical assistance, and custom technology solutions that are designed to reduce operational costs and increase product offerings for underserved communities and small businesses.
Financial and Risk Sharing:
African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs will increase membership in its growing network of Black-led CDFIs; and launch a new technical assistance and human capital development program to increase the capacity of its members.
Inclusiv will assist minority-designated credit unions to securing CDFI certification and implement plans to improve their operations and financial viability, increasing access to responsible products at the community level.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) will implement a two-pronged human capital strategy to expose diverse candidates to the field of community development finance. The Economic Mobility Corps, in partnership with AmeriCorps and the CDFI Fund, will place adult professionals in one- year positions at certified CDFIs. Additionally, LISC created an innovative internship program with HBCUs that will place students of color in paid internships with LISC offices and other CDFIs.
National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) will launch a technical assistance program to assist Latino-led nonprofit loan funds in securing CDFI certification, a critical first step in building credibility for future investments from funders to help them grow and serve their community.
Opportunity Finance Network will establish a new CDFI career center to help attract the next generation of a talented and diverse CDFI workforce, as well as create tailored training and professional development opportunities to help existing CDFI professionals advance within the industry.
Research and Thought Leadership:
The Center for Impact Finance at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy will launch a groundbreaking CDFI research consortium that will convene CDFI practitioners, intermediaries, policy groups, funders, government entities, and academic institutions to define and drive an industry-wide community finance research agenda.
The organizations were selected following a competitive RFI process earlier this year. The Citi Foundation’s support for a number of the fund’s organizations and projects contributes to Citi and the Citi Foundation’s Action for Racial Equity, which has already invested more than $1 billion in strategic initiatives to help close the racial wealth gap in the U.S. since its launch in 2020.