While the typical bank may be able to promise your money will do well under its stewardship, few commercial options promise your money will do good, as well. That's where community development financial institutions (CDFIs) come in. A CDFI is a private financial institution whose primary mission is to help communities that are traditionally left out of banking and investing options. Banking customers who want to see their money help increase economic independence in underserved communities and help end the racial wealth gap can turn to a CDFI for their banking needs. Here's what you need to know about CDFIs and how they may fit into your financial life.
First Southwest Bank was awarded Community/Rural Lender of the Year by the Colorado Small Business Administration during their virtual conference for National Small Business Week. Sherry Waner, FSWB's Chief Development Officer, accepted the award on behalf of the bank. Examples of rural businesses across the state that FSWB has helped through SBA loans include GEOMAT, Phoenix Recycling, Espinoza Consulting Services, Agile Space Industries, Chinook Medical Gear and Ace Towing. During the ongoing small business impacts of COVID-19, First Southwest Bank has completed 805 Paycheck Protection Program loans through the SBA to small businesses across Colorado to date.
The federal government is cracking down on alleged fraud in the Paycheck Protection Program. The Justice Department recently filed nearly 60 charges involving what it says are attempts to bilk over $175 million out of the program. Meanwhile, legitimate borrowers are working to get their loans forgiven. Now the government’s dilemma is whether to make it easy to get a PPP loan forgiven. One idea is automatically forgiving loans under $150,000, a provision of the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act that’s been introduced to the Senate. Robert James II at Carver State Bank in Georgia said that would help the bank avoid collecting on risky loans. “If the government makes it onerous and difficult for customers to get the loans forgiven, then we’re gonna really have a very unstable, potentially harmful asset on our books,” James said.
Distressed groups — whether Black urbanites or white, rural shopkeepers — have long striven, unevenly, for economic self-sufficiency as a means of mobility. Typically, Wall Street-centered firms haven't had their backs. But, in many cases, smaller banks have. If you want to help minority-owned businesses, the first best thing is to shop local. But there's a next best thing, which is to move your deposits into Black-owned banks or community banks in general. Featuring Carver Federal Savings Bank.
Darrin Williams thinks it was probably a Fox News interview he did in early April that caught the eye of the White House and got him invited later that month to a videoconference with President Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and other top advisers. Williams is one of only a handful of Black CEOs at financial institutions with more than $1 billion in assets. At $1.6 billion, Southern Bancorp is a minnow next to the trillion-dollar-size whales that more commonly have access to Trump. But in this conversation, just four days after the federal government rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program to provide $350 billion in loans to keep small businesses alive, the little bank in Arkansas emerged as the most relevant.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) released the application data for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 round of its Capital Magnet Fund program. A total of 137 organizations submitted applications requesting more than $642.2 million in funding. The applicants propose to serve 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. In total, 53% of the applicants are certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and the remaining 47% of the applicants are non-profit affordable housing organizations.
Mastercard has announced it is launching a massive $500 million investment into Black communities amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit those groups disproportionately hard. The initiative — announced Thursday — also comes on the heels of a summer that has seen nationwide protests and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer at the end of May. Split into three main parts, the investment will focus on making financial tools and services more affordable and accessible for Black communities as well as investing heavily in Black-owned small businesses.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has awarded $25.2 million to 138 community banks and thrifts serving America's most economically distressed communities. Of the awardees, 68 are members of the Community Development Bankers Association (CDBA), who received a total of over $13.5 million in awards (nearly 54 percent of the total award dollars). Over 97 percent of CDBA members awarded this year received the maximum grant amount of $202,898.
When two banks merge, it's often bad news for at least one of those bank's communities. They could be merging because one of the two banks has failed, and regulators from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have brought in one bank to take over for the other. Or it could be a big bank buying up a smaller bank that is having trouble surviving because of regulations that currently tip the scales in favor of big banks. But what happens when two otherwise financially healthy community banks from across the country merge, willingly, to form a national bank? The residents of Black communities and other historically disinvested communities in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. will have their chance to find out, with the announcement of a merger between Broadway Federal Savings Bank in Los Angeles and City First Bank of D.C.
The COVID-19 public health crisis coupled with the protests around the country calling for racial justice have made one thing clear: We must use this opportunity to confront and address long-standing issues of racial equity and access to capital and opportunity in this country. Whether we come out of this moment stronger or not depends on how we take action to change economic and social disparities. This is why Harbor Bank and JPMorgan Chase are partnering to make long-term investments that shift the economic future of underserved communities in Baltimore and across the region.