News from CRF

January 9, 2018

Community Reinvestment Fund, USA and U.S. Bank Partner to Expand Access to Credit for Small Businesses

Connect2Capital platform will connect small businesses to responsible lending options from Community Development Financial Institutions

MINNEAPOLIS--Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) - a mission-driven non-profit lender dedicated to improving communities and transforming lives - announced today that it has partnered with U.S. Bank to deliver a new solution for connecting small business borrowers with responsible lending options from community-based lenders across the country.

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, providing jobs, essential goods and services and generating local tax revenue. There are approximately 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S., accounting for more than 63 percent of the net new jobs created between 1993 and 2013. However, the Federal Reserve Bank's 2016 Small Business Credit Survey found the most common challenge facing small businesses was "credit availability or securing funds for expansion."

CRF's Connect2Capital platform is a new way to support small businesses that do not qualify for traditional credit products by matching them with other flexible sources of financing from mission-driven Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs like CRF and its partners play a vital role in the U.S. economy, providing critical access to capital in historically underinvested communities. A network of more than 1,000 CDFIs operates nationwide, united by a common mission to expand economic opportunity and help Main Street businesses and communities grow and thrive.

Along with support from a group of leading CDFIs, CRF developed Connect2Capital to make it easier for financial institutions and their small business customers to navigate a national network of community lenders who operate independently. While referral partnerships between individual CDFIs and banks are common, this program leverages technology to streamline the experience and vastly increase the number of small businesses served by CDFIs.

"CRF has more than 30 years of experience investing in communities and small businesses to create jobs and economic vitality," said Frank Altman, founder and CEO of CRF. "With our new U.S. Bank partnership, together we're helping to fulfill our mission of empowering people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities through innovative financial solutions."

The partnership also allows U.S. Bank to retain business banking relationships with small businesses that don't qualify for traditional lending products, but are good candidates for CDFI lending and advisory services. Ultimately, CDFIs strive to help build the credit and capacity of small businesses so they can become eligible for traditional lending products from the bank in the future. By connecting these borrowers with CDFI lenders, U.S. Bank can monitor progress and results, reaching out to businesses when the time is right for further financing needs.

"We think of Connect2Capital as an online matchmaking service for borrowers and CDFI lenders," said Steve SaLoutos, Metropolitan Bank Division Manager for U.S. Bank. "Any time we can support mission-driven lenders that strengthen local economies in the communities where we do business, it benefits the entire financial ecosystem."

U.S. Bank is one of the first financial institutions to initiate a nationwide referral partnership with CDFIs. Although banks have historically been important sources of capital for CDFIs, U.S. Bank's partnership with CRF and Connect2Capital is a blueprint for broader engagement and impact that will ultimately help thousands of small business owners access the capital they need to create jobs and invest in their communities.

To learn more about how the Connect2Capital marketplace delivers transparent and responsible financing options to small businesses, visit www.connect2capital.com/partners.

About Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF)
Founded in 1988, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) is a national non-profit organization with a mission to empower people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities through innovative financial solutions. A leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CRF supports mission-driven organizations through the development of products and services aimed at increasing the flow of capital to historically underinvested communities across the country. CRF has injected more than $2.4 billion to help stimulate job creation and economic development, provide affordable housing, and support community facilities. For more information, visit www.crfusa.com.

About U.S. Bank
U.S. Bancorp, with 73,000 employees and $459 billion in assets as of September 30, 2017, is the parent company of U.S. Bank, the fifth-largest bank in the United States. The Minneapolis-based bank blends its branch and ATM network with mobile and online tools that allow customers to bank how, when and where they prefer. U.S. Bank is committed to serving its millions of retail, small business, wealth management, payment, wholesale and securities services customers across the country and around the world as a trusted financial partner, a commitment recognized by the Ethisphere Institute naming the bank a 2017 World's Most Ethical Company. In 2016, U.S. Bank contributed $54.2 million to nonprofit organizations across the country through the U.S. Bank Foundation and corporate contributions. Additionally, employees donated more than 219,000 volunteer hours creating opportunities at work, home and play across the country. Visit U.S. Bank online or follow on social media to stay up to date with company news.

Contact:

For Community Reinvestment Fund, USA:
David Hlavac, 612-803-3350
david@belletristcommunications.com

Full press release here.

Posted by: CRFUSA

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September 27, 2017

Community Reinvestment Fund, USA, Issues $100 Million in Bonds under the CDFI Fund Bond Guarantee Program

Program's first issuance designed to finance and refinance residential home mortgages for low-income families

MINNEAPOLIS - September 27, 2017 - Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF), a Minneapolis-based nonprofit and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), issued a $100 million bond on behalf of Aura Mortgage Advisors, LLC (Aura). Aura is an affiliate of Boston Community Capital and part of its Stabilizing Urban Neighborhoods (SUN) Initiative. Aura will use bond proceeds to help low-income families facing foreclosure repurchase their homes with fixed rate mortgages they can afford, stabilizing families and communities in Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

"The housing foreclosure crisis disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color, and many of these communities have yet to recover," said Elyse D. Cherry, CEO of Boston Community Capital and President of Aura. "We are grateful to the teams at CRF and the CDFI Fund Bond Guarantee Program for their pioneering work and unwavering commitment to making this long-term, low cost capital accessible to provide these communities with lasting relief."

For the first time in the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program's history, a private foundation, The Kresge Foundation, provided a guarantee in support of an Eligible CDFI's Bond Loan application, demonstrating a strong collaboration between the public and private sector. "Solving complex social programs, like the impact of foreclosures on communities, requires innovation and collaboration between public, private and community partners," said Joe Evans, portfolio manager at The Kresge Foundation. "Our impact investment in Aura allows us to use the foundation's non-grant resources - a guarantee, in this case - to support sustainable outcomes that are core to expanding opportunity for low-income people." The Kresge Foundation has a $350 million commitment to social investing through 2020, including $150 million in guarantees.

"CRF's goal is to support mission-driven organizations to transform the flow of capital to communities and individuals across the country, said Frank Altman, CRF's president and chief executive officer. "We are thrilled to collaborate with Aura to access long-term, fixed-rate capital that will increase impact in underserved markets."

About CDFI Bond Guarantee Program
The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program was established by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which directed Treasury to, among other things, guarantee the full amount of bonds issued to support CDFIs that make investments for eligible community and economic development purposes. Those purposes include financing for small businesses, rural infrastructure, day care centers, rental housing, healthcare facilities, senior living and long-term care facilities, charter schools, and commercial real estate in low-income or underserved rural areas, among others.

Boston Community Capital and Aura Mortgage Advisors:
Boston Community Capital (BCC) is a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) dedicated to building healthy communities where low-income people live and work. Since 1985, BCC has invested close to $1.4 billion in projects that provide affordable housing, good jobs, and new opportunities in low-income communities, connecting these neighborhoods to the mainstream economy; its investments have leveraged over $7 billion in public and private investment in underserved communities nationwide. BCC affiliate Aura Mortgage Advisors, LLC (Aura) is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and a licensed Mortgage Lender (NMLS #23467) dedicated to helping people understand the mortgage process and own a home they can afford. For more information about BCC and Aura, visit http://bostoncommunitycapital.org/programs-services/sun-initiative or www.sunhomehelp.org.

About Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America's cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2016, the Board of Trustees approved 474 grants totaling $141.5 million, and made 14 social investment commitments totaling $50.8 million. For more information, visit www.kresge.org.

About Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF)
Founded in 1988, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) is a national non-profit organization with a mission to empower people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities through innovative financial solutions. A leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CRF develops products and services aimed at increasing the flow of capital to historically underinvested communities across the country. CRF has injected more than $2.1 billion to help stimulate job creation and economic development, provide affordable housing, and support community facilities.  For more information, visit www.crfusa.com.

About the CDFI Fund
Since its creation in 1994, the CDFI Fund has awarded more than $2 billion to CDFIs, community development organizations, and financial institutions through the CDFI Program, the Bank Enterprise Award Program, the Capital Magnet Fund, the Financial Education and Counseling Pilot Program, and the Native American CDFI Assistance Program. In addition, the CDFI Fund has allocated $40 billion in tax credit allocation authority to Community Development Entities through the New Markets Tax Credit Program, and $525 million has been guaranteed in bonds through the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program. Learn more about the CDFI Fund and its programs at http://www.cdfifund.gov.

press release

Posted by: CRFUSA

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July 31, 2017

Entrepreneurs can receive a grant of up to $5,000 through the Pathway to Success Small Business Grant Program

We're looking for Twin Cities-based small businesses that are making a lasting impact on their employees, customers, and neighbors.

Minneapolis, MN - (July 31, 2017) Twin Cities entrepreneurs have an opportunity to win one of three grants (one $5,000 grant and two $2,500 grants) for their small business by applying through the Pathway to Success Small Business Grant Program sponsored by the Pathway to Success Small Business Collaborative. The funds for the program were made possible by the Wells Fargo Foundation.


A panel of three judges, all economic development practitioners, will be selecting the final grantees.

The Details
- To be eligible, a business must be a for-profit small business located within the city limits of Saint Paul or Minneapolis that has been in continuous operation selling a product or service for no less than one year and has an annual revenue of less than $200,000.
- Small business owners can fill out a simple form online or download the grant application and submit the completed application to lance@crfusa.com, by August 31, 2017, 11:59 pm Central time.
- The evaluation period is September 1 to October 22, 2017.
- Grantees will be announced on October 23, 2017, and will be notified by the contact information provided within the application.
- Grantees will be invited to attend an event hosted by the Pathway to Success Collaborative in late 2017.

Selection of Grantees
Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- A clear, compelling, and engaging business story
- The ability and focus of the business to create positive community impact
- A strategic use of grant proceeds

About Pathway to Success Small Business Collaborative
The Pathway to Success Small Business Collaborative is made up of Wells Fargo, Saint Paul NAACP, and Connect2Capital with non-financial support provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Its mission is to support small business owners and connect them with organizations, systems, and processes that support small business development. The collaborative operates on the belief that sound information and development services are vital to business sustainability.

About Connect2Capital
Connect2Capital is an online small business lending platform, powered by Community Reinvestment Fund, USA. Connect2Capital was developed in response to the rapid growth of online lenders who offer quick and easy access to high-interest rate, short-term loans that are typically paid back by deducting a fixed amount or a percentage of sales directly from the borrower's bank account until the funds, fees, and interest are repaid. Connect2Capital provides small business loans ranging from $50,000 - $4 million. For more information, visit www.connect2capital.com.

Full press release

Posted by: CRFUSA

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