With applications to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund submitted this week, OFN advances its strategy to lead the industry in climate finance
Washington, D.C. – This week, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the nation’s leading financial intermediary and network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and mission-driven lenders, submitted its historic bid to finance a clean energy transition in underinvested communities through the Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA), part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
“The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund represents a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that no community is left behind with this historic investment in combatting climate change,” said Harold Pettigrew, OFN’s president and CEO. “This bold investment underscores the Biden Administration’s recognition that the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of a just transition. OFN is primed to leverage its strength, membership, and broad set of partners to lead the financing of a just energy transition.”
OFN aims to transform the market for clean energy finance in low-income and disadvantaged communities to combat climate change, improve equity, and deliver community benefits. Through a comprehensive financial and technical support package for mission-driven community lenders, OFN is building a pathway to scale climate lending and unite economic justice with climate justice.
If awarded, OFN will leverage these resources to provide capital and technical assistance to mission-driven community lenders, equipping them to invest and reinvest in projects, activities, and technologies that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.
“We look forward to coordinating across all industry partners on these transformative programs,” said Amber Bell, OFN’s chief strategy and operations officer. “OFN is committed to ensuring that mission-driven lenders are positioned to deploy these resources to the low-income and disadvantaged communities they serve.”
The Clean Communities Investment Accelerator is a $6 billion program for national nonprofit “hubs” to deliver financial resources and technical assistance to build the climate lending capacity of community lenders working in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
Qualifying priority projects include the following: (1) distributed energy generation and storage (rooftop or community solar, microgrids, distributed wind, and stand-alone storage); (2) net-zero emissions buildings (electrification/energy efficiency, school building space and water heating, replacement of backup diesel generators with storage, and community facility retrofits); and (3) zero-emissions transportation (fleet electrification and electric vehicle charging stations).
Since 1986, OFN has championed economic, racial, and environmental justice, and has achieved a level of trust built over decades of community engagement and through more than $100 billion in financing to low-wealth areas across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. OFN members enter markets considered “unbankable” by large financial institutions, creating a path for private market capital to flow.
Today, more than 50% of OFN’s members provide clean finance products and other members have integrated clean finance into their primary products. According to a 2023 survey, OFN members expect the demand for climate financing to be over $14 billion over the next six years.
In addition to its CCIA application, OFN has supported other applications under the GGRF, as a partner in applications to the National Clean Investment Fund program with the Justice Climate Fund, a coalition of more than two dozen members, and with Climate United, a consortium comprised of Calvert Impact, Community Preservation Corporation, and Self-Help. OFN also provided support letters for member applications for the Solar for All competition.
For more information, visit https://www.ofn.org/current-initiatives/greenhouse-gas-reduction-fund/.
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.