OFN Advocates for the CDFI Industry in Senate Climate Change Roundtable

OFN Advocates for the CDFI Industry in Senate Climate Change Roundtable

Read time: 3 minutes

CDFIs are critical to the success of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, OFN’s chief external affairs officer, Jennifer A. Vasiloff, emphasized at the Senate Climate Change Taskforce Roundtable 

Climate change affects all of us, and it’s already here, and low-wealth, underinvested communities are bearing and will bear the brunt of it. In an effort to combat this crisis, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, part of the Inflation Reduction Act, was created to invest public funding to help leverage private capital to accelerate the clean energy transition.  

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), chair of the Senate Climate Change Taskforce, hosted a roundtable attended by member Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on June 23 to discuss the potential, implications, and goals of the $27 billion fund. Jennifer A. Vasiloff, chief external affairs officer at OFN, joined the roundtable to advocate for the inclusion of CDFIs in the disbursement of funds. Vasiloff was joined by ally organizations, Inclusiv, Community Builders of Color Coalition, Calvert Impact, and the American Green Bank Consortium.  

The EPA is set to release the application for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in the coming weeks. Jahi Wise, senior advisor to the Administrator and acting director of the fund, participated in the first panel of the roundtable to provide an update for potential applicants around the objective of the program. The primary mission of the fund is to drive down emissions, he said, and emphasized the requirement for partners to ensure capital is effectively flowing into the communities that need it most and have historically been excluded from these opportunities. 

Senator Markey emphasized the goal of the fund “is to create long-term wealth in low-income communities,” as these populations face disproportionately higher energy burdens than other communities. 

“When the federal government wants financing to reach low-wealth people and places, it turns to community development financial institutions,” Vasiloff said in her opening remarks. The fund will distribute the $27 billion across three grant competitions, aimed to reduce emissions, support disadvantaged communities harmed by climate change and pollution, and scale the availability of and access to solar energy. Applications for the $7 billion Solar for All grant program opened on June 28. 

“In communities across the country, particularly in the Justice 40 census tracks prioritized by this program, CDFIs are already providing climate financing,” Vasiloff said. The specialized expertise and established presence of CDFIs within local communities provides a distinct advantage to effectively allocate loans.  

Across all the organizations that were present, there was a united message: This momentous task cannot be accomplished alone. We must work together, across public and private funding, across communities, and across organizations, to effectively fight climate change. OFN and our members are eager to ensure these funds reach rural, urban, and Native communities across the nation.  

Visit our policy action center for information, tools, and other resources to help you advocate on behalf of CDFIs and the communities they serve. 

Join CDFI peers in Minneapolis for training
The OFN and Native CDFI Network’s (NCN) joint Midwest Regional Meeting (July 11) is SOLD OUT! However, you can still join us for new OFN training opportunities (July 10 & 12).

Attend the OFN 2023 Conference 

Green finance and environmental justice will be a front and center topic at the OFN 2023 Conference in Washington, D.C. Stay tuned for registration!

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