Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) play a key role in expanding access to financial products and services in low-income and moderate-income communities. A range of institutions can be designated as CDFIs including banks, credit unions, loan funds, and venture capital funds. An August 2023 analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York documented a 40 percent increase in the number certified CDFIs since 2019. Given their vital contribution to economic opportunity and their rapid growth, these institutions were a logical focus for the IEDC Equitable Economic Development Playbook Program.
Launched in June 2021 by IEDC’s Racism and Economic Development Committee, the multi-year initiative takes a cohort of five entities through an approximately year-long equity planning process. The initial cohort, completed in 2022, consisted of various types of economic development organizations across the country that represented a diverse set of communities, each with unique equity challenges. For 2023, the cohort was comprised of the following CDFIs: the National Institute of Minority Economic Development (based in North Carolina), the Black Business Investment Fund (with multiple locations in Florida), Trufund (headquartered in New York, New York), PeopleFund (serving Austin, Texas), and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (Pennsylvania). Each institution received technical assistance provided by volunteer facilitators during on-site visits. TIP Strategies was engaged to work with each member of the cohort throughout the year, starting with an initial orientation at the IEDC Leadership Summit in Tucson, Arizona, in February 2023. The engagement included five virtual office hour sessions (one per community), where participants worked through the challenges of developing equity action plans, and three peer learning opportunities in which the CDFIs were able to share their experiences and learn from others in the cohort. TIP also designed exploratory exercises to support the CDFIs as they worked through obstacles that arose during the planning process. The participants presented their Equity Action Plans at a pre-conference convening ahead of the 2024 Leadership Summit held February 4-6 in Phoenix, Arizona.