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Formerly Opportunities
MONTHLY DIGEST   |   June 2016 Edition

Voicing Our Opposition to the Duffy-Marino Amendment
OFN Leadership Transition
Venturize: Connecting Small Business Owners with Smart Financing Options
Congratulations to the 2016 Wells Fargo NEXT Opportunity Awards Finalists!
A Small Business Finance Forum Recap
Spotlight on: Clearinghouse CDFI
Advocacy Day Recap
In Other News

Voicing Our Opposition to the Duffy-Marino Amendment

This Wednesday, the House was scheduled to debate H.R. 5485, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. This bill contains the House Appropriations Committee $250 million request in funding for the CDFI Fund. In addition, there were several amendments on the schedule including an amendment from Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) that would reduce CDFI Fund appropriations by $20.7 million. OFN put out a call to our Members and Allies to demonstrate to House members our industry's strong opposition to the amendment.

OFN Members and Allies answered the call, and led incredible outreach efforts with less than 24 hours' notice. As a result of your efforts, OFN heard back from multiple congressional offices confirming their support for CDFIs and opposition to the Duffy-Marino amendment. The House did not vote on H.R. 5485 or the Duffy-Marino amendment as originally planned, and is now in recess until July 5. They have not yet rescheduled debate on H.R. 5485.

OFN will continue to advocate on behalf of CDFIs during the congressional recess to ensure we secure sufficient support to stop the Duffy-Marino amendment, as well as preserve strong funding for the CDFI industry in FY 2017. Please be on the lookout for further updates. If you have any policy questions, please contact Liz Lopez at


OFN Leadership Transition

Earlier this month, OFN announced a significant transition. After more than 20 years at our helm, Mark Pinsky stepped down as OFN President and CEO to explore new challenges. The CDFI industry is what it is today thanks in part to Mark's vision and leadership. At this time, the Board and OFN staff are thoughtfully considering when and how best to recognize Mark and his important legacy.

The Board, including Board Chair Lori Chatman, President of Enterprise Community Loan Fund, and Board Vice Chair Dave Glazer, President of Montana-Idaho CDC, has named Fran Lutz as Interim CEO. Beth Lipson, who brings 19 years of leadership with OFN, will resume her former role as CFO on an interim basis. Reflecting its commitment to OFN and its work, the Board has also asked Penelope Douglas, a longtime OFN board member and CDFI founder, to serve as Senior Advisor during our transition.

The Board is laying the groundwork for a national CEO search—a board-led search committee will be active by July 1st. Our goal is to engage multiple perspectives and have a new CEO on board at OFN as soon as possible.

We are excited about the opportunities in front of OFN. We look forward to communicating with you throughout the next few months about our transition and ongoing work.


Venturize: Connecting Small Business Owners with Smart Financing Options


On June 14, OFN announced our commitment at the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America to promote access to capital for 250,000 women small business owners and small business owners of color through Venturize. This CGI Commitment to Action also includes securing commitments from 10 for-profit entities to promote responsible and transparent capital options for small business owners, and the launch of an online technical assistance program that will reach 1,500 small business owners.

Venturize, which launched on June 8 at the Small Business Finance Forum, with support from Sam's Club Giving Program, is a new, nationwide campaign that gives small business owners access to clear, trustworthy loan information and powerful resources—no strings attached. Venturize is an easy-to-use, online platform with mobile-friendly resources and a loan comparison tool that offers small business owners the straightforward information they need to compare financing options and borrow with confidence. Venturize does not lend money, recommend loans, or accept advertising from lenders.

Read more here and here.


Congratulations to the 2016 Wells Fargo NEXT Opportunity Awards Finalists!

NEXT Awards

With nearly 60 percent of Americans struggling with financial health, and a growing number of households turning to high-cost alternative financial products and services, CDFIs are needed more than ever to expand their role and provide this market with affordable and responsible products. With financial support from Wells Fargo and Prudential, the 2016 NEXT Awards continue a second year devoted to expanding consumer financial services in disinvested communities across the U.S. Join us in congratulating these CDFI finalists for their innovative consumer finance strategies: Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union; Justine PETERSEN Housing and Reinvestment Corporation; Rio Grande Valley Multibank Corporation.

Click here to learn more about the finalists.


The Small Business Lending Environment: A Small Business Finance Forum Recap


OFN held the fifth annual Small Business Finance Forum in Chicago—our best attended, most productive forum yet! Throughout the event we live-blogged key messages and moments, including inspiring words from City of Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers, whose passion about stopping predatory online business lending practices was a perfect segue into the opening plenary discussion, The Small Business Lending Environment: Putting the Borrower First. At lunch, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet captivated us with her personal story and her commitment to helping the nation's small businesses, particularly those in disinvested markets.

Breakout sessions covered an array of topics, from the latest CDFI efforts to compete with online lenders through technology partnerships (e.g., Excelsior and Mirador; Accion and CloudLending), to how CDFIs can reach more under-collateralized businesses through the SBA's Community Advantage loan guarantee, to helping reentering citizens move from prison to entrepreneurship.

Prior to the event, the Small Business Finance Collaborative met to share best practices, and later the Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital Knowledge Network kicked off its inaugural meeting.

The full recap with photos and sessions is available here.


Spotlight on: Clearinghouse CDFI

Spotlight Image

The historic Apache Railway, which has operated since 1917 and serves as a critical piece of infrastructure in rural Arizona, was on the brink of closure. Despite a multi-year effort to save the railway, which was went into bankruptcy after the Catalyst Paper Mill shut down in 2012, it was not until the 11th hour that a collaborative state and local effort secured the needed financing to save this vital community resource, which is now poised for growth.

Clearinghouse CDFI, in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, provided $2.5 million in financing to help make the project possible.

"This project is vital to many rural communities, businesses, and families in Navajo County, Arizona and surrounding areas," said Douglas Bystry, President & CEO of Clearinghouse CDFI.

"The case of the Apache Railway demonstrates how public and private interests should work together. In saving the Apache, both gave full measure so that our community might live well and prosper. A fully-functioning Apache Railway will attract new businesses, and gives Navajo County the necessary underpinnings for job growth and the resulting economic benefit for the entire community, now and into the future." said Steve Brophy, President of the Apache Railway Company.

More about Clearinghouse CDFI here. Learn more about this #CDFIstory here.


Advocacy Day Recap

2016 Advocacy Day

Thanks to OFN's Members and Allies our 2016 Advocacy Day on May 25 was our best yet! With more than 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 of the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program through FY 2017.

The event began on May 24 with a bipartisan Congressional Awards Reception, where 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.

On May 25, Participants kicked off the 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. Throughout the day, OFN live-blogged the event, showcasing the many meetings OFN Members had with their Congressional representatives. Members and Allies also joined us in our Virtual Advocacy Day campaign. By participating in the #CDFIstory campaign, you helped us reach nearly two million impressions across social media!

Advocacy Day concluded 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.

In Other News

Going Beyond Simple Job Creation

There's a growing buzz in the CDFI industry about quality jobs. What is a quality job? Why should CDFIs care about a distinction between quality jobs and other jobs? What can they do about it?

With support from the Surdna Foundation, OFN and InSight at Pacific Community Ventures (PCV InSight) are studying this issue, talking to CDFIs that are passionate about it, and attempting to answer these questions so that ultimately, more people in CDFI markets can benefit. Our research effort began in May when PCV InSight published Moving Beyond Job Creation: Defining and Measuring the Creation of Quality Jobs. Through interviews with CDFIs and others, PCV InSight defined five elements that put the "quality" in jobs: wages, basic benefits, career-building opportunities, wealth-building opportunities, and a fair and engaging workplace. They then provided practical tools for measuring these quality elements so CDFIs know if they are supporting them.

More here.

The Move to Feature the SBA Small Dollar Lending Training at the Forum

Before starting a new role with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Grady Hedgespeth shared insights into the collaboration between OFN and the Small Business Administration at the Small Business Finance Forum. Grady shared, "Many of the participants don't just do this as a job but as a calling, and sometimes it can be difficult and frustrating work. The connections they are able to make with like-minded folk in different parts of the country carry over to strengthen their resolve, even in between conferences. We've seen it happen in our training, and it will only increase as the program connects with OFN and this group of mission-driven lenders."

You can read his full interview here.

An Intersection of Corporate Social Responsibility and Emerging Talent

Net Impact is now a community of 100,000 students and professional leaders committed to making a difference through their careers. Over the years, OFN's relationship to Net Impact has expanded, from sponsorship to committing to send a cohort of OFN's emerging leaders to attend the conference. If you haven't already tapped into your local Net Impact chapter, the Net Impact Conference is a great chance to connect with students that are interested in having an impact in their work, and to educate them about the industry.

Learn more here.

Net Impact Image

Regional Meeting

Join us on Wednesday, June 29 in Los Angeles, CA for the 2016 OFN Western Regional Meeting! This meeting will offer OFN Members, other CDFIs, banks, foundations, and other industry stakeholders the chance to engage in peer exchange and training to improve their effectiveness in increasing low-income and low-wealth communities' access to responsible financial products and services. Expect to hear from Pacific Community Ventures about how technical assistance played a key role in their partnership Super Bowl 50. Learn about the Small Business Landscape from Opportunity Fund, who will speak to their new report Unaffordable and Unsustainable.

Register today!


If you are looking for a rewarding career where you can make a real difference in your community, a job with a CDFI (community development financial institution) might be right for you. With jobs that span skillsets—from finance to communications, program development to administration, and training to leadership, just to name a few—you can use your expertise toward creating opportunity. For all. Explore openings in the industry and with OFN!


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We Believe in Opportunity. For All.


Opportunity Finance Network® (OFN) is the national network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)—private financial institutions that are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream.


Opportunity Finance Network
620 Chestnut Street, Suite 572 | Philadelphia, PA 19106
P 215.923.4754 | F 215.923.4755 |


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