By Lauren Counts, Senior Director, Strategy, Innovation, and Impact Management
Mission-driven organizations face down some of the world’s biggest challenges – systemic poverty, inequality, and racial inequity, to name a few – as a matter of business practice. Certainly these are not easy issues to tackle; they require bold thinking and brave action in order to create transformative change for those underserved communities that experience these inequities.
A veteran of the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) sector, Scott Sporte has helped shape Capital Impact Partners’ lending priorities and has envisioned innovative pathways for supporting our communities. Scott recently transitioned from his role as Chief Lending Officer to a new role within Capital Impact, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer.
In this interview, Scott discusses new focuses for CDFIs, outlines his vision for his role, and describes how championing equity and inclusion can transform the communities that Capital Impact serves.
By Ellis Carr, President and CEO, and Rosemary Mahoney, Board Chair
We believe everyone deserves a voice and economic pathways that allow them to shape their own futures.
We believe that a community’s voice and economic opportunities can be strengthened with the right tools. Our objective is to develop tools for and with our communities that amplified their voices and created hope, shared prosperity, justice and inclusion.
By Ronald Kelly, Director, Impact Strategies
“3. 7. 8. 2. 4. 0. 3. 7. The first thing that happens when you go to prison, they take away your name, and from that moment forward, you’re that number: Hodge, 37824037. It’s the beginning of the dehumanizing experience of mass incarceration.”
The words of Teresa Hodge give a brief and disheartening glimpse into the truth of America’s criminal justice system. What is worse is that, as Teresa alluded to, the dehumanizing experience of incarceration continues beyond the walls of the facility; it has lasting and far reaching impacts on those who have been caught up in the system.
By Emilie Linick, Senior Loan Officer
Equitable access to education provides all children with the chance to live up to their full potential and lead choice-filled lives. With racial and socio-economic inequity growing across the nation, high-quality education is crucial to giving students from low-income communities the opportunity to achieve the same life successes as their more affluent peers.
As a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Capital Impact Partners aims to create communities of opportunity, and education is one cornerstone of that mission. For more than 20 years, we have partnered with and financed charter schools to extend high-quality education to the children who need it most.
By Michelle Betton, Writer
Across the country, unemployment numbers are down and the news talks of economic recovery and the booming stock market. Outside of that news, however, are many people who are still struggling to achieve equal opportunity and prosperity with the rest of the country.
Transformative investments are needed to get struggling Americans into the mainstream economy and working toward a brighter future.
By Nancy O. Andrews, Ellis Carr, Donald Hinkle-Brown and Joe Neri
As leaders of four of the nation’s largest nonprofit community development financial institutions (CDFIs) with the mission of investing in low-income communities and entrepreneurs, we ask Congress to protect the desperately needed flow of investment capital to America’s struggling cities and towns.
In short, we ask Congress to ensure full funding for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), whose support enables us and more than 1,000 other CDFIs nationwide to provide patient, innovative capital solutions to help small businesses, expand educational opportunities, and build affordable homes. These investments provide a tremendous bang for the taxpayer buck: On average, CDFIs leverage every federal dollar with at least 12 additional dollars from other sources, including banks, foundations, and impact investors.
CDFI investments in underserved communities promote economic opportunity and inclusive growth.
Last year, $233 million in CDFI Fund appropriations led to more than $2 billion worth of investments and loans across the U.S. Most importantly, this capital has fueled economic growth in thousands of distressed cities and towns, providing economic opportunity for millions of Americans. In 2016 alone, with support from the CDFI Fund, CDFIs nationwide created 36,000 jobs, made 11,000 business loans, and financed 24,000 affordable housing units in urban and rural communities that need it most.
Yet, despite a solid track record of success and consistently strong bipartisan congressional support since its founding in 1994, the CDFI Fund is on the chopping block. The Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 would eviscerate the CDFI Fund’s vital programs, cutting all but $14 million of its current $248 million budget.
The House voted to restore some of that funding, and although that’s a good first step, we need more than that. The CDFI Fund must continue to operate at full strength. Without the CDFI Fund, small businesses like veteran-owned Honor Capital, which brings affordable grocery stores and jobs to underserved neighborhoods, wouldn’t exist.
Honor Capital’s seven grocery stores in Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Oklahoma have all been financed with CDFI loans. In Wichita and Winfield, Kan., for example, Honor Capital opened two stores that have brought fresh, affordable foods to their communities, created jobs, and attracted new businesses. Each Honor Capital grocery store serves thousands of customers every week.
As part of Honor Capital’s ambitious plan to increase access to healthy foods and support veteran entrepreneurship nationwide, the company will expand to operating a total of 10 stores by the end of 2017, including new stores in North Carolina and Georgia. This growth is made possible by $9 million in innovative financing provided by a partnership of three CDFIs—IFF, Reinvestment Fund, and Enterprise Community Partners. CDFI financing is essential because many start-up and early-stage businesses like Honor Capital have difficulty accessing credit.
In the District of Columbia’s Congress Heights neighborhood, a $14.4 million capital infusion from two CDFIs, the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and Capital Impact Partners (CIP), enabled the Charter School Incubator Initiative to renovate a building that houses two charter schools. Somerset Prep DC and Community College Preparatory Academy serve students in grades six through 12, as well as adult learners. These two schools expand the opportunities for youth and adults to secure high-quality education in their community. Congress Heights, a predominantly African-American and low-income neighborhood, is undergoing pressure from the rapid public and private-sector development in the District. Like other CDFIs, LIIF and CIP are working to ensure inclusive growth by enabling all residents to participate in the revitalization of their community.
The impact of the CDFI Fund’s support goes well beyond dollars and cents.
CDFIs help communities realize their visions of prosperity. They work closely with local nonprofits, businesses, and government to ensure that they are addressing community needs and priorities. They seek out opportunities that traditional financial institutions often overlook: in neighborhoods where median incomes and school test scores fall below national averages, and in businesses like grocery stores that have thin profit margins and higher risk.
CDFI financing is about helping Americans live better lives—through good jobs; safe and affordable housing; access to fresh, healthy foods; high-quality education from early childhood to college; and excellent health care.
America’s cities, towns and rural areas need the CDFI Fund in order to thrive. Congress should ensure that funding for CDFIs is fully restored in the 2018 budget and keep investment capital flowing to vulnerable communities.
Nancy O. Andrews is President and CEO of the Low Income Investment Fund, which is dedicated to creating pathways of opportunity for low income people and communities. Ellis Carr is Capital Impact Partners’ President and Chief Executive Officer and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services and mortgage industries. Donald Hinkle-Brown is President and CEO of Reinvestment Fund, a national CDFI which integrates data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Joe Neri is President & CEO of Chicago-based IFF, the Midwest’s leading non-depository, diversified Community Development Financial Institution, which focuses on strengthening nonprofits and the communities they serve.
By Ellis Carr, President and CEO
The idea of “community” often conjures images of a geographic place, a shared space where people congregate. While true, communities can be so much more. Their true potential can manifest itself when they foster connections between individuals who share mutually beneficial ideals. Through championing those shared values, community members can create a future of shared prosperity.
By Emilie Linick, Senior Loan Officer, and Quanic Fullard, Impact Strategy Specialist
Capital Impact Partners has long been driven by a mission to help people build communities of opportunity that break barriers to success. To that end, we continually look to expand our lending and incubate, scale, and advocate for new ideas that advance community development for those most in need.
By Kimberly Dorsett, Human Resources Director
The concept of identity politics has had a lot of press of late. How do we, as professionals, as voters, as members of our community, as individuals, apply our own identity and personal narrative to our actions and convictions? Given the diversity of our organization and the communities we serve, is the act of presenting and leveraging our own backgrounds an appropriate starting point for our professional work?