New CDFI 101 toolkit and orientations

New CDFI 101 Toolkit and Orientations Now Available 

Sindhu Lakshmanan, SVP of Development Services, Opportunity Finance Network

OFN’s new CDFI 101 toolkit and orientations aim to meet one of the industry’s biggest needs 

Over the past few years, the spotlight on community development financial institutions (CDFIs) has grown, resulting in heightened demand for the services and capital the CDFI industry provides.  

As CDFIs have adapted to this increased scale, they have also invested in their own operations and staff, hiring a number of new employees, many of whom are new to CDFIs. At the 2022 OFN Conference, for example, 42% of attendees — almost one in every two — were first–time conference attendees, reflecting the number of new faces and voices entering the industry. 

As a result, and in response to one of the biggest needs we have heard from our membership, OFN has released new resources and launched a new training to help CDFIs: 

  1. Onboard their staff, investment committees, and board members 
  2. Educate their stakeholders around what CDFIs are, how they do what they do, why they exist, and what the industry’s impact has been to date 

Check out our new offerings below! 

Download the CDFI 101 Toolkit 

Did you know that the formation of the CDFI industry is rooted in the civil rights, worker rights, and social justice movements of the 1960s and 1970s? And that the Women Religious provided seminal support to CDFIs, helping them establish a proof of concept and grow into an industry? Or that Saturday Night Live (SNL) once did a skit that mentioned the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund? 

Our new CDFI 101 toolkit covers this content and much more! The toolkit includes: 

  • CDFI 101 Guide 
  • History of the CDFI industry 
  • CDFI impact infographic 
  • Reading list 
  • YouTube playlist 
  • Brief glossary of organizations 
  • List of annual, in-person industry events 
  • Suggestions on how to use the toolkit to onboard staff 

Download the full toolkit for free from OFN’s CDFI Connect online community.

Watch OFN Webinar Recording – 50 Years Later: Exploring the Roots of the CDFI Industry 

On February 7, more than 660 attendees joined OFN virtually to learn about the CDFI industry’s history during our first CONNECT+ webinar of 2023, “50 Years Later: Exploring the Roots of the CDFI Industry.”  

The webinar featured a panel with two early CDFI pioneers — Mary Houghton, a co-founder of ShoreBank, and Juliana Eades, founding executive director of New Hampshire Community Loan Fund — as well as Beth Lipson, OFN’s interim president and CEO & CFO, along with moderator Seth Julyan, OFN’s executive vice president of network services.  

Panelists shared advice for those new to the CDFI field and insights from the early days of a movement to advance economic justice. They discussed how it has evolved into an industry that is now more than 1,300 organizations strong and in every state. 

Watch the webinar recording on OFN’s YouTube channel
Learn about CDFI 101 Orientations 

Are you new to the CDFI industry, or are you seeking to onboard staff, board members, or other stakeholders who are? In April, OFN will begin offering CDFI 101 Orientations at all in-person OFN events, including Regional Meetings, the Small Business Finance Forum, and OFN Conference. Participants will have the chance to engage in networking, facilitated discussions, and hear from early CDFI practitioners and other CDFI leaders. Learn more. 

OFN is also offering custom, in-person or virtual CDFI 101 orientations for groups of 20 or more. Fill out this survey to request a custom orientation. 

We hope these new resources and orientations will help practitioners — new and existing — feel better connected to the CDFI industry and the common goals we all share; understand what it means to be a part of the movement built over the past 50 years; and be inspired by the industry’s roots! 

Attend OFN’s CONNECT+ Forum: CDFI Operations & Human Capital  

Join us on March 21 for our virtual CONNECT+ Forum: CDFI Operations & Human Capital. Preview upcoming toolkits and learn how CDFIs can most effectively recruit, develop, and retain talent; build stronger systems and policies; invest in operations and technology, and more. 

Have ideas, feedback or questions? Please reach out to OFN’s Development Services team at

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