From May 16-17, 82 OFN Members and Allies from 59 CDFIs across the country came to D.C. to participate in OFN’s 2017 Advocacy Day. This year was our largest Advocacy Day yet, and 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.
The two days began with the 2017 bipartisan Congressional Awards Reception on May 16. 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 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.
Throughout the day, Advocacy Day participants attended more than 110 congressional meetings with members of Congress and their staff in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle. They also 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 FY18 appropriations funding for the CDFI Fund at $250MM and a continuation the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program through FY18 with $500MM 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 increased by 25% 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.