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Where Next?

There are some key points where this case study and framework development have potential in helping the CDFI industry in the future.

1. Program Design. The asset-building framework offers a way to develop more holistic programming, asking questions about what credit is doing in a community. The asset-based theory articulates areas of asset development that can benefit communities, offering a linking mechanism to bring departments within organizations, or possibly from different organizations, together across sector and specialty silos to create innovative partnerships.

2. Program Financing. In a recent speech at a Federal Reserve Board community affairs conference in Washington, D.C., Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that future changes to the CRA should include incentives for banks to provide transformational services for loans made in low-income communities (Bernanke 2007). He was talking about technical assistance, such as housing counseling and small business counseling. If CRA moves in this direction, it could offer a legislative framework for CDFIs to work with banks, providing the transformational services to the banks for a fee.

3. Measurement. Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and current chairman Bernanke have called for increased research in community development finance (Bernanke 2007). As noted, measurement based in the asset framework involves more in-depth data collection focusing on the qualitative, as well as quantitative, elements of credit. While federal funders expect ongoing outcomes measurement, there are limited resources available (Dickstein and Thomas 2006). Funders could build into grants and loans funding to allow more in-depth evaluation of CDFIs, enabling helpful program feedback and useful knowledge about the value of CDFIs to communities.

 
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