This post was written by OFN Blog guest authors and OFN members BlueHub Capital, Capital Impact Partners, IFF, Nonprofit Finance Fund, LISC, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Reinvestment Fund, and Self-Help
In recent years, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and similar mission-oriented financial services organizations have begun to elevate the importance of explicitly addressing racial equity in lending, investing, and operational practices. While this goal remains urgent, it is also a challenge to determine precisely how to incorporate or operationalize racial equity into our varied work. How do CDFIs incorporate an explicit racial equity perspective into their lending? What work do we need to do as institutions and individuals to genuinely build that racial equity perspective? And how might we collaborate across our industry to successfully achieve that goal?
As of July 1, 2021, Ellis Carr is now the president and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance. Kurt Chilcott, formerly president and CEO of CDC Small Business Finance, is transitioning to Board Chair of both organizations.
In 2020, Kurt Chilcott and Ellis Carr sat down for a video series of conversations about our alliance. You can also watch the whole video series here.
By Ellis Carr, President and CEO
Since 1982, Capital Impact Partners has helped people build communities of opportunity that break barriers to success. We have done that through learning and evolving with a range of investors, donors, community partners, and other Community Development Financial Institutions.
As we looked to the future, we saw a tremendous opportunity to do more, give more, and make a bigger difference. With that in mind, more than a year ago, we began conversations with CDC Small Business Finance. Together, we recognized how our similar visions and complementary expertise, services and financing products could create a change that neither of us could accomplish independently.
Editor’s note: This conversation took place virtually to protect all participants during the COVID-19 pandemic. There may be sound issues, as this was a live webinar.
As COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact communities of color, it is important that supporting developers of color does not stop. As not only business owners, but community builders, developers of color come from, live within, and understand the investments that often disinvested communities want for themselves and future generations. However, because of systemic disinvestment, developers of color have far fewer opportunities to engage in their chosen profession or create the lived environments that would support communities of color.
The events of the past weeks have been incredibly painful to witness. While in the midst of a global health crisis, the disease of racism reared its ugly head to create a crisis within a crisis in which unarmed Black men and women are being threatened or killed.
“Structural racism has always been a pre-existing condition for communities of color.” -Race Forward
People in disinvested communities, often communities of color, understand this statement too well. It has rung true for generations. Structural racism affects more than just health; systemic discrimination has negatively impacted every aspect of life for communities of color, from accessing quality health care and education to qualifying for housing to procuring healthy food within their neighborhood.
By Ellis Carr, President & CEO, and Daniel Varner, Board Chair
Over the past several weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the world for all of us. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been—and will continue to be—affected by this devastating event.
We want to express our deepest gratitude to those who are serving on the front lines during this crisis: doctors, nurses and other health care workers, pharmacists and grocery store employees, restaurant owners and delivery crews and everyone who has sewn masks and donated food and supplies to those in need. We are truly indebted to them for their sacrifice and hard work.
“Those closest to the problem are closest to the solutions.” Bryan Stevenson
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) were first certified by the U.S. Treasury 25 years ago to provide financing in communities left behind by the mainstream financial system. CDFIs have long been “first responders” to many small and growing businesses in communities throughout America and are very much on the front lines of the economic response to coronavirus (COVID-19). There are more than 1,000 CDFIs at work in all 50 states managing $185 billion in loans and investments to historically underserved small businesses, nonprofits, affordable housing projects, unbanked consumers building credit, and farms and grocery stores which provide healthy food.
“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” -President Lyndon B. Johnson when he signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965
For communities nationwide, 2020 will be a big year, a year in which the chance at future prosperity will be determined for many. Social justice depends on a web of rights being heeded and respected by all to work in favor of the populace. From the 2020 elections to the census to the Community Reinvestment Act revisions, many events are taking place this year that will shape disinvested communities, particularly communities of color, for years to come.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy is one of challenging the systems that keep people from benefitting from the democracy that this country is supposed to provide to all of its citizens. The people for whom he fought were often people of color, people with low-to-moderate incomes, people whose struggle for basic social services and equity was historically negated by their own government and fellow citizens. More than 50 years ago, King stated “Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.” His was the chorus of “Yes, we can” that has brought so many together to change the status quo and shape that future that we want to see.