On the afternoon September 26, seventy-seven individuals from the CDFI industry represented 59 different organizations in the halls of Capitol Hill. As a result, close to 100 congressional offices in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle heard directly from CDFIs about CDFI impact. This was part of CDFIs Invest on the Hill, a pre-Conference activity that took the opportunity of the Washington, D.C. location to connect CDFIs with members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill.
To kick off this one-day event, OFN provided a lunch training and a chance to hear from OFN 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. After reviewing the “congressional ask” and best practices for congressional meetings, there was a mock hill meeting between a former congressional staffer Angela Manso and CEI President Keith Bisson. Angela and Keith demonstrated what to expect during a congressional meeting and how to make the most of your time with your legislator and staff. With knowledge in hand, everyone was then ready to pack their bags and head to Capitol Hill.
Over the course of the afternoon, participants met with members from their home state congressional delegations as well as with members on the following committees: House and Senate Appropriations, House Financial Services, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Senate Finance. 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. Participants also urged members of Congress to cosponsor the New Markets Tax Credit Extension Act (H.R. 1098/ S. 384).
Throughout the day, participants used social media to share their experiences on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and fellow OFN Conference attendees, using #CDFIsInvest to highlight photos, borrower stories, and impact data.
On Wednesday, September 27, a CDFIs Invest on the Hill Debrief session allowed an opportunity to discuss reactions and responses, as well as share creative strategies on how to stay engaged with congressional offices once back home. Participants stated that throughout their various meetings, members of Congress and staff were supportive of CDFIs and encouraged by the bipartisan support for the industry.
Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, we were able to advocate in support of the CDFI Fund at a time when Congress and the Administration is proposing drastic cuts to the CDFI Fund in FY18.
In addition to this recap, we’ve captured some of the best moments of the 2017 OFN Conference online! See video highlights and access session materials on the OFN Conference Recap page.