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Part 1 Community Development Financial Institutions

2. Evolving Roles of Mission-Focused and Mainstream Financial Organizations: Implications for the Scale and Sustainability of CDFIs

Robin Newberger, Michael Berry, Kirsten Moy, and Gregory A. Ratliff

In 2005, the Federal Reserve System and the Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunities Program launched a national conference series to explore the state of the community development finance industry. A further goal was to document lessons and practices primarily from the for-profit sector and introduce product-, organization-, and industry-oriented innovations to increase the impact of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and other community development organizations.[1] Prior research by Moy and others formed the basis for the series. This research showed that environmental changes related to public policy, changes at the point of community development impact[2] (where, how, and why community development investments occur), and sweeping advances in the mainstream financial services industry have significant implications for community development financial intermediaries. Research identified strategic partnerships and creative business models that the industry should consider to achieve greater scale (though not necessarily organizational size) and effectiveness. The conference series and attendant industry design and discussion sessions among practitioners, researchers, and policy groups have given rise to new research initiatives, of which this is one.

  • [1] We use the acronym CDFI in some instances to refer broadly to organizations that provide their financial services to lower-income or special-needs populations or to organizations that serve those populations, whether or not they have the Treasury Department designation of Community Development Financial Institution and its benefits.
  • [2] Borrowing from the TRF motto, “Capital at the Point of Impact."
 
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