Opportunity Finance Network - eNewsletter
February 2011
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News, Innovations & Results:

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Healthy Food Options Training & Technical Assistance
Healthy Food Options

In November, the CDFI Fund announced that OFN will lead a national training and technical assistance program to expand CDFI financing expertise for Healthy Food Options in underserved communities. This two-year initiative will build the capacity of CDFIs to successfully finance the full continuum of access to healthy food options for food production, food-related businesses, and food retailers. In June, OFN will launch the program with the first of eight training workshops to be offered through August of 2012. A variety of resource materials are also in the works.

OFN is eager to establish baseline data regarding what workshop and resource material CDFIs would find most valuable. If you are a CDFI practitioner with an interest in healthy food options, please take a few minutes to share your perspective with us. OFN will collect CDFI feedback through February 28.

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Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses CDFI Growth Collaborative
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

OFN is excited to launch a new initiative in partnership with Goldman Sachs. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses CDFI Growth Collaborative is a three-year initiative to build the capacity and expand the reach of CDFI small business lenders.

Up to 25 CDFI loan funds will be selected to participate in the Collaborative, where they will have access to training, consulting, and peer-learning opportunities that will help them become better, more robust small business lenders. Lessons from the Collaborative will be shared broadly with the CDFI industry through OFN Conference sessions, conference calls, Technical Assistance memos, and a capstone paper that captures the three-year experience.

CDFI loan funds with a track record of providing small business loans of $50,000 to $500,000, or with a plan in place to offer these loans, are eligible to apply for participation in the Collaborative.

Applications will open on February 17 and will close on March 15. Check the OFN home page for a notification.

Don’t miss the opportunity to join this unique and prestigious learning program. Register for the information call today.

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What’s NEXT?
Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards

Only you can tell us what is NEXT for your CDFI! Your team is doing incredible things—funding affordable housing in urban, rural, and Native communities; financing small businesses in opportunity markets; developing new products and services that improve the quality of people’s lives; building charter schools and other community facilities in low-wealth areas; making an impact and strengthening neighborhoods in ways other financial institutions can’t. Now is the time to take your organization to the NEXT level by applying to the 2011 Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance. Two top-notch CDFIs will be awarded multi-million dollar awards, and four stellar CDFIs will be awarded $25,000. Are you NEXT? Look out for the application opening notification in mid-March and the application closing on April 29, 2011. This could be your year!

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OFN’s Financing Fund Wants You!
OFN

Do you have clients asking for products that you don’t offer but would like to? Do you find you’re missing opportunities to make a difference in the lives of families living in low-income and low-wealth communities? OFN’s Financing Fund aggregates and distributes capital in ways that create and foster opportunities for Members and other key financing partners via loans and investments that range from $100,000 to $3 million, in terms lasting from 3 to 10 years. If you have capital needs traditional lenders are not meeting, please contact Wanda Speight, Executive Vice President at OFN, to discuss your options in participating in the OFN Financing Fund. And if you have a need for green financing, small business financing, or fresh foods financing, contact us so we can discuss the development of products like these that better match market-driven demand and reflect the needs of our membership.

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Policy & Advocacy News
Policy

Join OFN in Fighting Cuts to the CDFI Fund’s Budget
OFN is gearing up with our Members to fight to maintain a $247 million appropriation for the CDFI Fund’s programs (FY 2010 level). The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on an omnibus spending bill for FY 2011 that includes only $50 million for the CDFI Fund. While the Senate is unlikely to accept such a dramatic reduction in funding levels, a final CDFI Fund budget for FY 2011 must be negotiated between the House and Senate so the risk for damaging cuts in the CDFI Fund’s budget are very real. Join OFN and take action today. Send a letter to your Congressional delegation urging their support for adequate funding for the CDFI Fund.

In other budget news, President Obama released his proposed budget for FY2012 (beginning October 1, 2011) on February 14. The Administration’s budget includes $227 million for the CDFI Fund, a decrease of $23 million over Obama’s FY2011 proposal and $20 million less than FY2010 funding levels. In the text accompanying the budget, the President states “The Administration continues to support robust CDFI investments within a more constrained budget, through activities that improve the ability of local financial institutions to provide affordable credit in underserved and low-income communities. In particular, the Administration targets initiatives that will increase the availability of healthy foods in areas now lacking them and improve the financial literacy of disadvantaged populations.”

The relatively modest cut proposed by the Obama Administration pales in comparison to the more dramatic cut proposed by the House Appropriations Committee for the FY 2011 budget for the CDFI Fund. Congress and the Obama Administration are likely to be locked in contentious deliberations about appropriate federal spending priorities for much of 2012. OFN Members wanting more information should join us on the February and March “Staying Connected on Policy Calls” on February 17 and March 17. The call this week will provide a brief overview while March’s call will focus on budget and appropriations. Register now.

New Federal Resources for Small Business Lending
On January 14th, the Department of Treasury announced that Michigan and North Carolina are the first states to receive funding under State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Michigan received $79.1 million in SSBCI funding allocations, and North Carolina received $46.1 million. Michigan developed the first CAP in 1986, and since then similar programs have been created in 27 states and three cities.

Read more

OFN Submits Letter to Treasury on CDFI Bond Program
Earlier this month, OFN sent a letter to US Treasury Secretary Geithner on behalf of 94 CDFIs and other organizations encouraging the Administration to move quickly to implement the CDFI Bond Program. OFN would like to thank all the organizations that added their name to this important communication! We appreciate your advocacy and will keep you informed about new developments on the CDFI Bond program.

Learn more about the CDFI Bond Program.

CDFI Fund Releases FY2011 Application Statistics
The CDFI Fund recently released its application statistics from the FY2011 funding round, and demand for funding remains strong. The Fund received 393 applications requesting nearly $465.9 million for the FY2011 CDFI Program funding round, including 273 applications for Financial Assistance and 120 for Technical Assistance.

CDFI Fund Director Donna Gambrell stated: “CDFIs across the nation continue their critical work on the front-lines of bringing economic recovery to all communities. The resources being requested this round demonstrates the strength and resilience of the CDFI industry.”

The Fund is expected to announce the awardees for FY2011 during the summer. View all of the application statistics.

For more information about on how you can become involved with OFN’s advocacy, contact Jennifer Vasiloff, Executive Vice President for Policy.

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Industry & Member News

2011 Midwest Regional Meeting
On February 10, OFN held its Midwest Regional Meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. OFN and its four Chicago-based Members—Chicago Community Loan Fund, Chicago Community Ventures, Community Investment Corporation, and IFF—organized a day-long meeting centered on networking and peer learning. A good part of the day was spent with the 14 participating CDFIs talking about their markets, products, successes, and continuing challenges in today’s economy. Read more.

Small Business Jobs Act Training
On February 9, OFN co-hosted a Small Business Finance Training with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and National Community Investment Fund. The training focused on programs available to CDFIs and community banks through the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the Small Business Administration. Read more.

People on the Move
Mary Tingerthal, President of Capital Markets Companies for Member Housing Partnership Network, will be accepting a new position as Commissioner of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, and will join the cabinet of the newly-elected Governor Mark Dayton. We congratulate Mary and wish her the best in this exciting new appointment. Read more about her new position.

Clara Miller, Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) President and CEO, will leave the organization to head New York's F.B. Heron Foundation on March 1. Longtime NFF board treasurer and former board chair Janet Thompson will serve as the organization's interim CEO. We congratulate Clara on her new position and look forward to her continued leadership in serving opportunity markets in her new role. For more information, view the press release.

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
The Center for Community Development Investments, sponsored and staffed by the Community Development Unit of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, has published a new working paper: Charter School Tax Credit: Investing in Human Capital by Ian Galloway. Read it now.

Social Funds Highlights OFN’s Point of View on New Markets Tax Credits
Journalist Robert Kropp talks with Mark Pinsky about revelations that tax credits intended for underserved communities were used to finance the renovation of a luxury hotel in Chicago. Read more.

Seeking America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs
BusinessWeek.com is seeking suggestions for their annual round-up of promising social entrepreneurs. View details of the project. In short, they want your help identifying the best for-profit, U.S.-based companies that have social or environmental missions as an intrinsic part of their business models.

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Save the Date: OFN 2011 Conference

The premier CDFI industry event—the 2011 OFN Conference—will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Monday, November 14–Thursday, November 17 at the Hilton Minneapolis. The 27th annual Conference will feature thought-provoking learning opportunities and networking events, including breakout sessions, community development tours, the 2011 NEXT Awards ceremony, a keynote address by Mark Pinsky, and more. See photos from the kick-off meeting.

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OFN’s Online Opportunity Finance Industry Job Bank

Are you looking for a job in the field of opportunity finance? Are you a CDFI that’s hiring? OFN’s online Job Bank lists positions with CDFIs across the country. We encourage CDFIs to post their positions and job seekers to check the list regularly. Wherever you are, the OFN Job Bank can help CDFIs and talented professionals connect with each other.

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