Coalition Building and Advocacy in Washington State: A Case Study for CDFIs

Co-Authored by Bruce Brooks & Joe Sky-Tucker

We’ve all seen stories highlighting individual loans that are meeting essential community needs, needs that mainstream or traditional financing often fail to meet.

But creating more widespread and enduring impact often requires broader systems change. One important pathway for this is policy and legislative advocacy, which can help create new laws and policies as well as allocate capital and other resources.

If you’re attending the OFN Conference this October, we encourage you to join us for a panel discussion about one such victory – passage of the Equitable Access to Credit Act in Washington state. That victory was only possible because of the creation of the Washington Community Investment Coalition (WCIC), a group of CDFIs that coalesced around working together for the benefit of all.

This legislation, which passed in 2022 after a three-year effort, will provide up to $8 million a year to support CDFIs so that more people may access an affordable loan, take courses on business practices, and pursue their dream. Its impact is significant, but don’t take it from us. Take it from a CDFI borrower who put it this way in The Seattle Times:

As a Black female entrepreneur, I’ve run into a lot of cold shoulders when I’ve asked for help investing in my businesses. So, when I heard that our state Legislature and governor created a new fund of up to $40 million over the next five years to help broaden access to prosperity for those like myself, I was excited…

…Part of why I’m thrilled that our state created this new fund is that it will help remove that ceiling on prosperity that can hover over the heads of people of color building their own business… The new program created for CDFIs by the Equitable Access to Credit Act is a great next step in our state’s commitment to addressing inequities for accessing capital.

We hope you take a moment to read her full story.

The creation of the WCIC and passage of the Equitable Access to Credit Act offer a case study for CDFIs around the country about how policy advocacy and coalition building can benefit our communities. At OFN, we’ll tell that story from the early days of this legislation to the incorporation of the WCIC and beyond. Joining us on stage will be Brooke Davies, the Coalition’s lobbyist; Rachel Smith, who played a key role in the early days of the California Coalition for Community Investment (CCCI), will moderate the discussion.

We’ll also discuss how CDFIs and the WCIC can use their developing voices and develop deeper partnerships with state agencies and communities. Whether you’re part of an existing coalition of CDFIs in your state, considering starting one, or evaluating policy ideas to take to your state legislature, this is one panel you won’t want to miss.

We hope you can join us!

The panel discussion titled Coalition building and advocacy in Washington state: a case study for CDFIs is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, 4:15 PM – 5:30 PM.

Bruce Brooks is President of Craft3, a CDFI and founding member of the Washington Community Investment Coalition.

Joe Sky-Tucker is President & CEO of Business Impact NW, a CDFI and founding member of the Washington Community Investment Coalition. He also serves as the Board Chair of the Washington Community Investment Coalition (WCIC).