OFN member Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union (HOPE) recently released findings of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in the Deep South. The project involved HOPE, a CDFI serving the Deep South region, and two HBCUs–Mississippi Valley State University, located in the rural Mississippi Delta, and Jackson State University, based in Mississippi’s urban capital city. Drawing on the research of national experts, key stakeholders from the universities, the surrounding communities, and local leaders identified critical needs, potential development opportunities, and common goals.
The resulting HBCU-CDFI Economic Mobility Guide outlines key outcomes from the collaboration to address conditions associated with persistent and concentrated poverty in both rural and urban areas. The project’s findings inform future efforts for HBCU-CDFI partnerships across the nation. HBCUs have long played a critical role in moving people along the economic continuum, particularly people of color. Similarly, CDFIs invest in people and places that have been historically underserved.
The guide includes project plans related to business development, healthy food access, and affordable housing. These projects have been launched in Itta Bena, Mississippi, which is located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest regions in America, and in West Jackson, Mississippi, an area poised for renewal. Designed for replication, the guide is being disseminated nationally.
Learn more and download the full guide.