Northwest Credit Unions Encouraged to Apply for CDFI Grants


The application period for Community Development Financial Institutions Program Grants has opened for the 2019 fiscal year, and Northwest credit unions are strongly encouraged to apply. 

All CDFI-qualified credit unions have an opportunity to apply for grant funds. This year there are $184 million in funds availableAlso, separate funding of $15.5 million is available for Native American CDFI Assistance Program awards.  

The application period for CDFI grants will close June 6, with awards expected to be announced in the fall.  

The CDFI Program is designed to build the capacity of financial institutions seeking to grow lending and investment activity in low-income and economically distressed areas. Credit unions must have CDFI certification to apply. CDFI certification applications are due May 3 to be eligible for 2019 funding. 

The CDFI will host a series of webinars designed to assist potential applicants with the information necessary to begin the process of applying for different types of grants. The first webinar will focus on applications and is scheduled for April 16. Credit unions interested in applying should review the Notice of Funds Availabilitypaying special attention to the key deadlines, the list of eligible activities, as well as the application requirements. 

The Treasury Department administers the program fundsThe CDFI anticipates $19 million will be awarded to Small or Emerging CDFIs or SECA, with awards ranging between $200,000 to $700,000. To be considered a SECA CDFI, a credit union must have total assets under $10 million. 

“It is exciting to see that the CDFI has brought back the Small and Emerging CDFI assistance grants,” said Northwest Credit Union Association Director of Cooperative Momentum, Carmen Vigil. “We are encouraging credit unions to look at the benefits of becoming a CDFI. Setting aside awards for smaller institutions is a step in the right direction.”  

But more can be done to accommodate small credit unions. 

Since banks and credit unions are competing for the same pool of funds, the CDFI should set the sizing standard for small credit unions the same as it does for banks, which are considered small if they are under $250 million in assets,” said NWCUA Vice President of Regulatory Advocacy, John Trull. “Leveling the standard would provide more opportunities for credit unions and ultimately, the families and businesses on Main Street.” 
The CDFI has allocated $117 million for CORE Financial Assistance Awards which range from $500,000 to $1 million. The CORE award has a dollar-for-dollar matching requirement that must be used to fulfill the grant initiative. Matching dollars cannot come from another federal partner. Another popular grant opportunity for credit unions is the Technical Assistance grant, which ranges from $10,000 to 125,000.   

CDFI-certified credit unions can apply for three other grant funding categories. The Treasury Department has allocated $18 million for Persistent Poverty Counties which include two Northwest counties, Madison County in Idaho, and Whitman County in Washington. The department will also award $22 Million for Healthy Food Financing Initiative Applications and $3 million toward Disability Fund Financial Assistance.  

Your Association guides credit unions through the  CDFI certification, low-income designation, and the minority depository certification processes. In addition, through NWCUA’s  Strategic Link, credit unions can contact Scott Butterfield at Your Credit Union Partner. Butterfield is a low-income-designation and CDFI expert, and has assisted credit unions across the country, helping them get access to secondary capital and large grants.  
For more information, contact NWCUA Vice President of Regulatory Advocacy, John Trull, or our Strategic Link partner, Your Credit Union Partner. 
In addition, the Northwest Credit Union Foundation supports credit union-led projects and initiatives that improve the financial lives of the people and communities credit unions serve. The Foundation recently closed a grant opportunity to help credit unions create products and services that address workforce housing needs and supports projects in the areas of asset building, economic empowerment, and cooperative development. Learn more on the Foundation’s website.

Posted in Community Impact.