The Opportunity Finance Newsletter
In this Issue:

Q&A: HPN's Thomas Bledsoe

Q&A: HPN's Thomas Bledsoe  
As affordable housing continues to exceed the reach of many low- and moderate-income households in the U.S, the 2014 Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance is focusing exclusively on The Future of Housing Finance.

One of last year's Awardees, Housing Partnership Network (HPN,) won a NEXT Opportunity Award for its innovative strategy to expand its real estate investment trust (REIT).

HPN's president & CEO, Tom Bledsoe, talked about the impact of its NEXT Award.

"Winning the NEXT Award was huge. The funding we won went straight to the bottom of the capital structure, which means it creates a leverage effect that magnifies the overall impact of the REIT."

"The practical impact (of the NEXT Award) is that itís helpful in developing reputation among key partners."

Read the interview.

Growing Microfinance to Scale Webinar Series

OFN is offering a series of free technical assistance webinars to provide CDFIs with best practices and tools they can use to determine appropriate strategies to grow their microfinance portfolios to scale. These webinars will be held from February to July 2014 and are made possible with generous support from Capital One. All CDFIs and CDFI partners interested in microfinance are invited to attend. Register now.

Hottest Headlines on CDFI Connect

OFN's mobile news platform, CDFI Connect, showcases news by CDFIs for CDFIs, features job openings, funding opportunities, staffing items, and advocacy trends. Some of the latest hot headlines:

  In Obama's State of the Union, Themes Deeply Familiar to CDFIs
"Opportunity. For all."
  $33M CDFI Infusion From the JPMorgan Chase Foundation
Three-year program "to leverage additional capital sources, expand to new geographies or asset classes, and create a shared infrastructure."
  CDFI Fund Publishes Reviews It Sought From the Industry
See the 15 letters and emails on data requirements and quality of service.
View the full mobile site.

Wanted: CDFI Success Stories

OFN invites our Members to help tell the CDFI story nationally. We're looking for recent borrower stories with great human-interest angles and borrowers who are willing to—and good at—sharing their story. We're especially interested in those stories with significant impact on the community, be it job creation, families benefitting from health-care services, students who are lifted up by CDFI activity or families that benefit from CDFI-financed housing programs. We will work with you to showcase your work on our Web site, in our email blasts, and in press pitches. Submit your stories now.
  SPOTLIGHT: Forward Community Investments
Forward Community Investments
The founders of Madison, Wisconsin-based FEED Kitchens (Food Enterprise & Economic Development Kitchens) envisioned the program as a unique provider of kitchen facilities for small business owners and as a space for job-skills training and community activities. Few lenders saw the potential in this unique business model. Forward Community Investments did, however, and it provided the $400,000 loan that opened FEED, which immediately filled a gap in the local economy by helping farmers, food-cart vendors, caterers, and other entrepreneurs get their products to market. FEED has also helped create jobs and has contributed to the expansion of sustainable agriculture in Wisconsin.

Public Policy News

An Increase in Support for the CDFI Fund

While Congress cut many domestic-spending programs, it increased core funding for the CDFI Fund in the FY 2014 Omnibus Spending Bill. The bill also increased authorization for the CDFI Bond Program from $500 million in FY 2013 to $750 million in FY 2014.

The CDFI Fund received $226 million in funding (up from $221 million), including $22 million for Healthy Foods, $18 million for Bank Enterprise Awards, $15 million for Native CDFIs, and $1 million for Capacity Building efforts.

OFN is very pleased with the outcome of our FY 2014 appropriations work in such a difficult political environment. We congratulate Members for their success in educating key members of Congress on the importance of CDFI Fund programs, and we extend a special thanks to OFN Members who participated in OFN's 2013 Advocacy Day (this year we're doing even more, and we encourage you to save the date for OFN's 2014 Advocacy Day on May 21). For more information about how you can participate in Advocacy Day, or if you have questions or suggestions regarding OFN's advocacy strategy, contact Michelle Levy-Benitez.

Senators Urge New FHFA Director for Funding

In late January, 33 Senators, led by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), wrote to new Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt urging him to resume contributions to the Capital Magnet Fund and the National Housing Trust Fund, a policy position strongly supported by OFN.

The Capital Magnet Fund is an affordable-housing program created under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and administered by the CDFI Fund. The fund provides competitively awarded grants to CDFIs and qualified nonprofit housing organizations that can be used to finance affordable housing activities as well as related economic development activities and community-service facilities.

The Capital Magnet Fund and the Housing Trust Fund, which was created by the same legislation, were originally funded through a fee on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Shortly after the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 became law, however, Fannie and Freddie went into conservatorship and the FHFA suspended the obligation to contribute to these funds.

The Capital Magnet Fund is an important source of enterprise level capital that can help high-capacity CDFIs address the national shortage in affordable housing. OFN will continue to push the FHFA to fund the program and to see it included in any reformed housing-finance system. For more information on the Capital Magnet Fund or OFN's advocacy strategy please contact Shannon Ross VP, Public Policy at 202.618.6103.

Also in this Issue:

OFN on the Road: CDFI Fund Healthcare Training

Calling all certified CDFIs with a desire to launch or expand lending to Community Health Centers (CHCs)—The CDFI Fund and OFN are seeking applications to the Financing Community Health Centers Capacity Building Initiative training workshops. The free two-day events provide in-depth training and technical assistance for CDFIs aiming to develop the skills to finance and provide services to CHCs in medically underserved communities. Register today to attend a training in Atlanta, Portland, Chicago, or Boston.

Raising Debt and Equity for CDFIs

Back by popular demand, OFN presents a webinar on capitalization, which is a common challenge for small and emerging CDFIs. Join us to explore various sources of capital available to CDFIs. Michael Swack of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire will lead this webinar on Tuesday, February 25. Register today.

OFN's Job Bank

Looking for a job in the opportunity finance field? Or are you hiring? OFN's online Job Bank lists positions with CDFIs across the country. Check the OFN Job Bank often (it updates frequently). And post your openings!

Opportunity Finance Network


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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