Community Solutions

Empowering Communities

Creating Lasting Economic Impact

CRF designs innovative, community-centric financing solutions that drive exponentially greater and more sustainable impact. We work side-by-side and hand-in-hand with community stakeholders and partner organizations to create a more fair, responsive and accessible community finance ecosystem.

In an effort to create persistent change, CRF brings together civic leaders, financial institutions, foundations and other community stakeholders to create new strategies that build stronger local economies, create jobs and support upward economic mobility. We work to coordinate and improve awareness of capital and resources in communities while growing the capacity and capabilities of local lenders and support organizations.

Every community is different; we listen and work with the community to understand the need.

Who We Create Solutions For


Creativity and problem-solving is at the heart of our work. We listen and learn from all stakeholders in a small business community ecosystem, including small business service organizations, incubators, accelerators, CDFIs, neighborhood associations, local governments and other mission-driven nonprofits working in the community. Then, we recommend unique solutions that help drive responsible capital and resources to the small businesses that need it most.


CRF’s work in housing always puts the needs of a community first when recommending strategies and solutions for systemic housing challenges. We listen and learn from the local community stakeholders, then recommend unique solutions. We focus on single-family housing because safe, accessible and affordable homes are essential for stabilizing families and revitalizing neighborhood economies. By empowering people through home ownership, we are creating healthier, more vibrant communities for all.

Who we have deployed solutions for

CHICAGO: Understanding Chicago’s Small Business Ecosystems

Despite the city’s long history of business growth and entrepreneurship, there has never been a comprehensive data analysis and synthesis of the small business landscape across Chicago. That’s why CRF and a half-dozen local partners documented the needs, challenges and opportunities experienced by Chicago businesses owned by women and people of color. This assessment – part of a multi-phase approach to invigorating Chicago’s small and mid-sized business environment – will serve as a key input point for improved collaboration, coordination and execution across the entire ecosystem, with the ultimate goal of bringing new benefits and resources to the business owners who need it most.

DETROIT: Home Ownership for the Motor City

In 2015, CRF led the development of an innovative community solution to make home ownership more accessible to Detroiters. The result – Detroit Home Mortgage – launched in February 2016 – is helping hundreds of people in Detroit build equity and invest in their futures through home ownership. The housing and credit crisis greatly reduced home values and the number of home sales in Detroit, essentially turning it into a cash based real estate market. As a result, many potential homebuyers have good credit scores and stable incomes, but could not get a mortgage because the appraiser could not find a similar home nearby with a large enough comparable sales price


Box with meter, graph line, and mock-data

Step 1: Assessment

CRF and its local partners listen and learn about the community economic landscape, including the key players, business environment, challenges and gaps in financial services.

Box with meter, graph line, and mock-data

Step 2: Design

After gaining a deeper understanding of community needs, CRF creates a strategic plan to address specific challenges and seize opportunities for business growth and community improvement.

Two hands holding three hexagons with a line over the top.
Circle with a Gear in the middle, middle of gear contains a checkmark

Step 3: Implementation

We work hand-in-hand with our partners to execute on community-specific plans, outlining roles and responsibilities for all players and ensuring collaboration throughout all project phases.

Circle with a Gear in the middle, middle of gear contains a checkmark

Step 4: Evaluation

We’re always seeking to improve the way we work with communities, so CRF evaluates each solution during and after implementation to measure success and impact, modifying the strategy as appropriate for best results.

Piechart with an arrow poiting out towards the right, and a bar graph above the line.


Developer looking at laptop with code on screen. Two monitors with code behind laptop


Row of colorful houses, beautiful gardens and side walk in front.


Busy office environment


Share This Page

Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Envelope Icon LinkedIn Icon