Guest blog by Paula Langley, Senior Project Manager, IFF & Gary Newcomer, Director of Operations, Community Builders Network (on behalf of the St. Louis CDFI Coalition)
The St. Louis CDFI Coalition is a partnership among eight Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that offer an array of capital, development, and consulting services and share a common mission to empower a comprehensively healthy St. Louis community through support for nonprofits, small businesses, and communities facing disinvestment.
CDFIs, which are designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, provide financial services to borrowers where commercial banks and traditional lenders leave gaps. Some specialize in midsize to large loans to community-serving agencies; others provide small, individual loans and other credit and financial services, while others focus on small business and real estate development lending.
The eight CDFIs in the St. Louis Coalition share a common mission of access to safe and affordable financial products and services, and offer mission-driven loans and other resources that are more flexible and accessible than traditional financing. Loans and resources are deployed across the region into some of St. Louis’ most economically distressed communities, and members frequently re-assess needs and look for innovative ways to fill financial gaps.
The St. Louis CDFI Coalition in Action
The St. Louis CDFI Coalition is a diverse collection of community development organizations ranging from depositories to loan funds and has supported a range of work including the highlighted projects below:
- Justine PETERSEN was profiled by the Wall Street Journal for their work supporting black-owned businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
- St. Louis Community Credit Union created gateways to banking careers.
- Gateway CDFI financed affordable homes in North St. Louis neighborhoods.
- IFF supported the early childhood education (ECE) community through Urban Sprouts Development Center.
- Alltru Credit Union fought for the financial health of the community.
- The International Institute Community Development Corporation provided business development support to refugees that launched a local soap business.
- Rise CDFI is rolling out its minority contractor and small developer loan funds in 2021.
- Alliance Credit Union is a Low-Income Designated CDFI with strong consumer, mortgage, and commercial lending portfolios.
To read more stories about CDFIs, look to the St. Louis CDFI Coalition blog. Elsewhere in Missouri, there are CDFIs Coalitions such as the Kansas City CDFI Coalition, including statewide CDFIs Gateway, IFF, and Justine PETERSEN. For a full list of CDFIs, see Opportunity Finance Network’s CDFI Locator.
Invest in CDFIs
Impact investing in CDFIs is an additional way for investors and funders who are looking to amplify their social impact while also gaining financial returns. IFF’s CEO, Joe Neri, recently shared the benefit of partnering with CDFIs to achieve a social mission and stated, “those investments can also strengthen the entire community finance ecosystem and, in turn, create greater impact in even more communities”. Impact investors and CDFIs can partner together to amplify shared missions of social impact that ultimately strengthen the entire community finance ecosystem.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about CDFIs, impact investing, and how to invest in your local St. Louis CDFI community, please visit our website to learn more about each CDFI’s mission and how to invest. For more information on how to support the St. Louis CDFI Coalition, reach out to Gary Newcomer at firstname.lastname@example.org.