OFN Leaders Advocate for CDFIs with Federal Policymakers
MacKenzie Bills, Public Policy Senior Associate, Opportunity Finance Network
OFN continues to advocate for federal policies that strengthen and scale the CDFI industry for greater impact
Throughout May, OFN has been advocating for CDFIs with key policymakers across the federal government and meeting with Biden-Harris Administration officials and Congressional leaders to discuss CDFI industry priorities and advance our 2023 policy agenda.
OFN’s advocacy focuses on policies that ensure fair lending and financial inclusion, promote environmental justice, boost tax incentives to encourage community development, and drive capital to communities that banks and other mainstream financial institutions find risky or unprofitable.
Below are a few highlights from our most recent advocacy efforts.
- On May 9, OFN’s Board of Directors met with policymakers in Washington to highlight CDFI impact in underserved communities across the nation. OFN’s board kicked off the day at the White House in a meeting with Deanne Millison, chief economic advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris. The board then traveled to Capitol Hill where they met with staff from key committees, including the House Financial Services Committee, Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Senate Appropriations Committee.
The Board also met with each co-chair of the Senate Community Development Finance Caucus: Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID). Board members shared their on-the-ground experiences and highlighted the importance of CDFI Fund appropriations and the CDFI Fund’s efforts to modernize CDFI certification, as well as the critical role of CDFIs in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
- On May 10, OFN’s interim president and CEO Beth Lipson spoke at a roundtable hosted by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Community and Economic Development and the CDFI Fund. The event featured senior Biden-Harris Administration officials and representatives from CDFIs, CDFI partners and investors, researchers, advocates, and other organizations. They discussed climate-focused resources, including the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and how best to build ecosystems for climate-focused community finance and deploy renewable energy in underserved communities.
- On May 11, Mary Scott Balys, OFN’s vice president of public policy, joined Partners for Rural Transformation to brief the Senate Community Development Finance Caucus on the work of CDFIs in rural and persistent poverty areas. The briefing covered the unique challenges of working in rural and persistent poverty communities, the innovative solutions CDFIs have developed to address their communities’ needs, and opportunities for the federal government to help support that work.
- On May 16, OFN joined Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi, and other senior government officials for the Biden-Harris Administration’s announcement at the White House about two new funding opportunities to bring clean energy to rural America. The two programs are part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest-ever investment in combatting the climate crisis.
OFN looks forward to continuing to advocate for the CDFI industry. To learn more and find out how you can get involved, visit our Policy Action Center.
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