Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO-8) and Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) receive the 2023 CDFI Congressional Champion Awards
Washington, D.C. (October 18, 2023) – Yesterday, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the leading national network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), presented Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO-8) and Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) with the CDFI Congressional Champion Award.
“Community development finance is a truly bipartisan issue,” said Harold Pettigrew, president and CEO of OFN. “These four leaders have been strong advocates for making responsible financial products and services available to millions of Americans that aren’t served by mainstream finance. On behalf of OFN’s members and the CDFI industry, I am proud to recognize these policymakers for their dedication and commitment to economic opportunity and inclusion.”
The awards were presented last night at a reception held in conjunction with the 39th Annual OFN Conference, the largest CDFI industry event in the country. The reception followed an afternoon of advocacy on Capitol Hill, where nearly 200 CDFI leaders met with members of Congress to highlight how CDFIs are creating economic opportunity, supporting small business, and expanding affordable housing through access to capital in their districts.
Sens. Crapo and Warner have been instrumental in advocating for legislation and funding in support of CDFIs. In partnership, the senators created the bipartisan Senate Community Development Finance Caucus, which has played a critical role in expanding the knowledge and support of CDFIs on Capitol Hill. Additionally, both senators have shown tremendous support for CDFIs in their states of Idaho and Virginia, respectively.
Rep. Maxine Waters, as ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, has demonstrated steadfast leadership in support of CDFIs and the underserved communities where they operate. Rep. Waters has introduced multiple bills to support and expand the work of CDFIs and MDIs in their communities.
Rep. Jason Smith, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has displayed a strong commitment to advancing tax policies that support CDFIs, including the New Markets Tax Credit.
For four decades, CDFIs have successfully leveraged public resources to finance opportunity in markets that mainstream financing does not reach. OFN members alone have originated more than $100 billion in financing in rural, urban, and Native communities nationwide.
“Being recognized with this award is an honor. Community development financial institutions are essential entities that support rural and underserved communities throughout the U.S., including in my home state of Idaho. I remain dedicated to supporting CDFIs and increased lending in underserved areas. I look forward to continuing our successful partnerships,” said Sen. Crapo, co-chair of the Senate Community Development Finance Caucus.
“I am thrilled to be selected as OFN’s CDFI Congressional Champion. As someone who worked in the business world long before I ever joined politics, I know that talent and ambition are not confined by income bracket or zip code. Unfortunately, access to start-up capital often is. I’m going to keep working in the Senate to support CDFIs that reach small businesses in our most underserved communities,” said Sen. Warner, co-chair of the Senate Community Development Finance Caucus.
“It’s an honor to receive the Congressional Champion Award for my work to support community development financial institutions across the country. As we know, underserved communities face serious systemic challenges in the banking system, which makes the role of our nation’s CDFIs that much more important. Rest assured, I will continue fighting to support CDFIs so they can continue building bridges to economic stability and wealth for underserved communities. I applaud Opportunity Finance Network and its members for their leadership, and I look forward to continuing this work together,” said Rep. Waters, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee.
About the CDFI Congressional Champion Award
OFN presents the CDFI Congressional Champion Award to members of Congress who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing policies that support CDFIs and spur economic growth and job creation in distressed communities across the nation.
Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is the leading national network of community development financial institutions. Its membership of more than 400 mission lenders specializes in providing affordable, responsible financial products and services in low-income rural, urban, and Native communities nationwide. As a trusted intermediary between CDFIs and the public and private sectors, OFN partners with banks, philanthropies, corporations, government agencies, and others to create economic opportunity for all by strengthening and investing in CDFIs.
Since its founding in 1986 and through 2021, the network has originated $100.4 billion in financing in rural, urban, and Native communities, helping to create or maintain more than 2.6 million jobs, start or expand more than 696,000 businesses and microenterprises, and support the development or rehabilitation of more than 2.3 million housing units and more than 13,600 community facility projects.