About Advocacy Day
OFN Advocacy Day participants meet with Members of Congress and their staffs, and Administration officials to share their experiences in creating access to capital in urban, rural, Native communities. OFN schedules participants’ meetings, coordinates advocacy trainings, and prepares all advocacy materials. Advocacy Day is open, at no cost, to all OFN Members and OFN CDFI allies.
In 2015, OFN established a bipartisan Congressional Awards reception to recognize Congressional champions for their support of the CDFI industry and of the policies that foster economic growth in distressed communities nationwide. Past CDFI champion award recipients include:
- 2015: Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), and Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY)
- 2016: Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
- 2017: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)
Advocacy Day 2017 Recap
From May 16-17, 82 OFN Members and Allies from 59 different CDFIs across the country came to D.C. to participate in OFN’s 2017 Advocacy Day. This year was our largest Advocacy Day yet. We could not have done it without the enthusiasm and dedication from our Advocacy Day participants. Visit our photo gallery and blog to see some of the highlights.
Advocacy Day began with the bipartisan Congressional Awards Reception on May 16. We OFN honored Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) for their support of the CDFI industry and of the policies that foster economic growth in distressed communities nationwide. Enjoy the recap here.
On May 17, participants kicked off a day on Capitol Hill with a breakfast that included welcoming remarks from OFN’s President and CEO, Lisa Mensah. Lisa spoke on the importance and power of our network to share borrower success stories to educate lawmakers about the positive impact CDFIs have on their constituents throughout the country.
Our Advocacy Day included over 110 congressional meetings with Members of Congress and their staff in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle. OFN Advocacy Day participants met with nearly half of the House and Senate Appropriation Committee as well as with members from home state congressional delegations. During these meetings, participants asked Members of Congress to support FY 2018 appropriations funding for the CDFI Fund at $250 million and a continuation the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program through FY 2018 with $500 million in guarantee authority.
Advocacy Day activities concluded with meetings at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Small Business Administration (SBA). Participants met separately with USDA and SBA officials for a discussion on the programs used by CDFIs in each agency and identified key challenges and opportunities in order to ensure CDFIs continue to have access to flexible capital.
Our message also echoed outside of Congressional offices through social media. Since February, we have encouraged everyone to join our #CDFIsInvest campaign on social media to advocate for full funding for the CDFI Fund. Just before Advocacy Day, we reminded OFN Members, borrowers, and CDFI supporters to keep posting about the impact of our work. By leveraging social media, OFN Members and Allies had the opportunity to participate in Advocacy Day even if they were not in D.C. The total number of #CDFIsInvest campaign impressions increase by 25% alone during Advocacy Day. Through the #CDFIsInvest campaign, we have generated a total of 6.6 million impressions this year, and we plan to continue that momentum.
Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, we were able to advocate in support of the CDFI Fund at a time when the Administration has proposed to zero out funding for the CDFI Fund in FY18.
Advocacy Day 2016 Recap
At this year's bipartisan Congressional Awards Reception, OFN honored Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) for their support of the CDFI industry and of the policies that foster economic growth in distressed communities nationwide.
Participants kicked off Advocacy Day with a breakfast featuring Michael D. Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother's Keeper. Mr. Smith shared President Obama's gratitude to our Members for their commitment to youth, particularly young men of color. Our Members’ investments have supported and uplifted the work of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
Our Advocacy Day included over 100 Congressional meetings with Members of Congress and their staff in both chambers, and on both sides of the aisle, as well as meetings with federal agencies. Participants asked Members of Congress to support FY 2017 appropriations funding for the CDFI Fund, as well as a continuation the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program through FY 2017.
Our Virtual Advocacy Day campaign helped us engage with Members and Allies in DC and across the country. Their #CDFIstory tweets reached over two million impressions across social media—that's 500,000 more than last year!
Advocacy Day activities ended with a briefing with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House. Participants met with senior OMB officials for a discussion on the impact our industry makes on communities across the country.
Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, we were able to expand the support for the CDFI industry!
Advocacy Day 2015 Recap
Thanks to OFN's Members and Allies, our 2015 Advocacy Day on May 20th was our best yet! This year we added three new elements to Advocacy Day, all of which contributed to our success: the first-ever bipartisan Congressional Awards Reception, an OFN briefing at the White House with senior Administration officials, and the launch of OFN's Virtual Advocacy Day complete with a social media toolkit in our Member Portal.
At the Awards reception, OFN honored four Members of Congress for their support of CDFI policies that foster economic growth in distressed communities nationwide. Our awardees were Representatives Harold Rogers (R-KY), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), and José Serrano (D-NY), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Participants kicked off Advocacy Day this year with a breakfast featuring Alejandra Y. Castillo, National Director of the Minority Development Business Agency (MBDA). Ms. Castillo talked with participants about the pivotal role that CDFIs play in supporting minority-owned businesses, helping to motivate all for a day of meetings with legislators and staffers on Capitol Hill.
Advocacy Day participants from 48 CDFIs in OFN's network met with over 60 Congressional offices in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle, including all of the Senators on the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the CDFI Fund, and half of their House counterparts. Participants asked for $233.5 million in FY 2016 appropriations funding for the CDFI Fund, as well as a continuation the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program through FY 2016 with up to $1 billion in guarantee authority.
Advocacy Day concluded at the White House where CDFI leaders and staff met with senior Administration officials for a discussion on the impact our industry makes on communities across the country. The briefing addressed a range of CDFI-specific issues with officials from Presidential Cabinet Affairs, the White House's Office of Public Engagement, the Office of Management and Budget, the Small Business Administration, and the CDFI Fund.
Last, this year we made it possible for you to participate even if you couldn't travel. Our "Virtual Advocacy Day" launched earlier this month, and our #CDFIstory campaign that reached 323,943 Twitter accounts or 1.5 million impressions!
Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, we were able to increase awareness and expand support for the CDFI industry.
Advocacy Day 2014 Recap
The 2014 Advocacy Day was more important than ever. Scores of CDFIs met with Congressional representatives to highlight the growing demand for CDFI financing and demonstrate how CDFIs transform lives and neighborhoods across America.
With approximately 100 meetings—a dozen of which were with Members of Congress—CDFIs made a big impact on Capitol Hill during OFN’s 2014 Advocacy Day. Representatives from 44 CDFIs boarded planes, trains, and automobiles to travel to DC to fight for the CDFI Opportunity Agenda and help provide opportunity for all.
On May 21, Cheryl Neas, Senior Vice President and Acting Director for Public Policy for OFN, Mark Pinsky, President & CEO of OFN, and Keith Bisson, OFN Board and Public Policy Committee Member from CEI Maine kicked off a busy day by rallying CDFIs and OFN staff to fight for:
- Congressional backing for a $226 million budget request for the CDFI Fund.
- One billion in guarantee authority for FY2014 and at least a one-year extension for the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program.
- Extension or permanent reauthorization of New Markets Tax Credits.
- A dedicated funding stream to support CDFIs engaged in mortgage finance through reforms to the national housing finance system.
After remarks, CDFIs took their OFN bags, and armed with materials, knowledge, and enthusiasm, stormed the Capitol.
In addition to meeting with local elected officials, participants had the rare opportunity to attend a Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee hearing—the first such hearing for the CDFI Fund budget in three years. During this hearing, Amias Gerety, Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions from the U.S. Treasury testified about the importance of the CDFI Fund and fielded questions from the subcommittee. OFN will email its constituents when funding levels for the CDFI Fund have been determined.
The meetings were conducted with Republican and Democratic legislators alike—a good indication that CDFIs have nonpartisan congressional support.
Meetings with offices of the key legislators who have influence over the resources that matter to CDFIs included:
- Sixteen of 17 members of the House and Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittees, the legislators with the most direct influence over CDFI Fund appropriations. Those meetings included in-person conversations with Senate Subcommittee Chair Tom Udall (D-NM), Ranking Member Mike Johanns (R-NE), and House Subcommittee Chair Ander Crenshaw (R-FL). We also met with the Chair of the full House Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers (R-KY).
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Senate Finance Committee with oversight over the New Markets Tax Credit; and staff of the corresponding committee in the House of Representatives.
- Leaders of the Senate Banking, House Financial Services, and House and Senate Small Business committees.
- We also secured important face time with agency officials, including Anne Marie Melhum, Associate Administrator for Capital Access at the Small Business Administration; Sandra Gordon, Deputy Director for Mission and Goals at the Federal Housing Finance Agency; and Barry Wides, Deputy Comptroller for Community Affairs at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
In addition to fighting for the CDFI Fund budget and advocating for issues important to CDFIs, Advocacy Day enabled attendees and OFN to build on our relationships with key leaders; we continued conversations with politicians who know us and began new conversations with elected officials we just met.
Through these meetings, CDFIs made a huge impact in Washington, and we thank all Members who participated on the Hill—or supported the day’s efforts through social media. You helped make our industry’s voice heard, as well as the voices of the low-wealth, low-income, and distressed people and communities that we serve across the country.
View the Advocacy Day photo gallery now.
Advocacy Day 2013 Recap
OFN’s third Advocacy Day on May 22 was an exciting, energizing, and fruitful day in which the OFN Board of Directors and other OFN Members stormed Capitol Hill to raise awareness of CDFIs, move the CDFI Opportunity Agenda forward, and connect projects politicians care about with the CDFIs that fund them, to show the impact of CDFIs in their state.
After the meetings concluded, we celebrated the opening of the new OFN D.C. office with a lively reception featuring food, drinks, and important guests, such as the CDFI Fund’s Director, Donna Gambrell, as well as Don Graves, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development and Housing Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
As the day wound down, the attendees agreed it was a day of hard work—but worthwhile work—and that their meetings proved effective in getting the message out about the importance of CDFIs.
OFN Board member Eric Belsky, Executive Director at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, said, “Advocacy was unifying and galvanizing. At the end of the day you are tired, but it was well worth it for the positive feedback and useful information that we gleaned.”
Julia Nelmark, Director, NMTC Financing, at Member Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation and OFN Board member, said, “By doing this as a group I found we could talk as almost the same organization. It’s the same in Detroit as in small town PA.”
Ruth Louie, President and CEO of Baltimore Community Lending, added, “I had a wonderful experience participating in Advocacy Day and welcome the opportunity to help out again.”
Thanks to the below attendees for making the day a success!
- Eric Belsky* - Joint Center for Housing Studies
- Leslie Benoliel - Entrepreneur Works
- John Berdes* - Craft3
- Keith Bisson* - Coastal Enterprises
- Donald Bowen* - Urban Empowerment Fund
- Joan Brodhead* - Community First Fund
- Lori Chatman* - Enterprise Community Loan Fund
- Christine Coady Narayanan* - Opportunity Resource Fund
- Penelope Douglas* - Mission HUB
- David Glaser* - Montana CDC
- Julie Gould - Mercy Housing
- Jeannine Jacokes - Partners for the Common Good
- Jim King* - Fahe
- Caitlin Kovalkoski - Low Income Investment Fund
- Daniel Kravetz - New Jersey Community Capital
- Trinita Logue* - IFF
- Inez Long - Black Business Investment Fund
- Ruth Louie* - Baltimore Community Lending
- Dan Lowenstein - Primary Care Development Corporation
- Wayne Meyer - New Jersey Community Capital
- Julia Nelmark* - Midwest Minnesota CDC
- Vicki Parker* - The Support Center
- Celina Pena - Acción Texas
- Eleanor Reid - The Support Center
- Mary Rogier* - Northern California Community Loan Fund
- Patricia Smith - The Reinvestment Fund
- John Wiechmann - Midwest Housing Equity Group
- Eva Wingren - Mercy Housing