OFN partnered with The Jessie Ball duPont Fund to encourage colleges and universities to explore innovative investments in their communities, using the financial resources of higher education and the lending expertise of community development financial institutions.
Through a publication and a series of presentations, the two organizations wished to engage leaders in higher education and community development finance, inspire their thinking and encourage their collaboration in community development opportunities.
The report—Partnerships for Community Impact: Higher Education and CDFIs Working Together—highlights five examples of higher education-CDFI partnerships, involving projects in Philadelphia (TRF and LaSalle University), Chicago (IFF and University of Chicago), Durham, N.C. (Self-Help and Duke University); New Orleans (Hope and Delgado Community College), and multiple communities in North Carolina (LCCU and University of Virginia).
The projects ranged from development of child care facilities, housing, and grocery stores to encouraging small business development and providing research and evaluation support for community projects.
“These partnerships have multiplied opportunities for low-income and low-wealth people to access education, to open a small business, to eat healthy, affordable food, and to own a home,” said Mark Pinsky, president of Opportunity Finance Network. “We appreciate the Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s leadership in identifying and actively highlighting these collaborations as examples CDFIs and schools can emulate across the country.”
“The work of building more vibrant and equitable communities demands creativity, knowledge and a commitment to place — qualities that are abundant in institutions of higher learning,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “It also requires capital that is not intimidated by innovation and that is committed to the greater good — qualities that community development financial institutions (CDFIs) exemplify.”
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund works with more than 65 colleges and universities and, for many years, has encouraged these institutions to look beyond the campus and become actively involved in their communities.