30th Anniversary CDFI Bill Social Graphic


By Natalie Madeira Cofield, President & CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)

On Thursday, March 18th, AEO joined our partners at the CDFI Institute alongside nearly 100 CDFI leaders from the country to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Bill. This legislative milestone, presents a time of reflection on the profound impact the CDFI Bill has had on underserved communities across America. Signed into law in 1994, this groundbreaking legislation has been a cornerstone in fostering economic empowerment, promoting entrepreneurship, and expanding access to capital and financial services where traditional banking institutions have faltered.

The CDFI Bill has been a catalyst for positive change, driving significant impact in communities nationwide. Here are five key data points that underscore its importance:

  • Economic Multiplier Effect: According to the Opportunity Finance Network, every dollar invested in CDFIs generates approximately $12 in economic activity in underserved communities. This multiplier effect highlights the significant role CDFIs play in stimulating local economies and creating sustainable growth.
  • Small Business Support: Research from the Aspen Institute reveals that CDFI lending to small businesses is associated with higher employment growth and increased economic resilience in low-income neighborhoods. CDFIs provide critical capital, technical assistance, and mentorship to underserved entrepreneurs, enabling them to start and grow businesses that contribute to job creation and wealth building in their communities.
  • Financial Inclusion: A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco indicates that CDFIs have played a crucial role in reducing the number of unbanked and underbanked households in low-income communities. By supporting CDFIs that prioritize outreach and engagement with underserved populations, the legislation has helped millions of individuals gain access to basic banking services, build credit, and achieve greater financial stability.
  • Affordable Housing Financing: CDFIs have been instrumental in financing affordable housing projects in underserved communities. According to the National Community Investment Fund, CDFIs financed over 40,000 affordable housing units in 2020 alone, providing safe and affordable housing options for individuals and families across the country.
  • Job Creation: The CDFI Coalition reports that CDFI investments supported over 200,000 jobs in 2020, providing much-needed employment opportunities and economic stability to individuals and families.

These data points underscore the significant impact of the CDFI Bill in driving economic empowerment and fostering inclusive growth. As we celebrate its 30th anniversary, it is crucial to recognize the ongoing challenges and opportunities facing the CDFI industry.

Continued investment in CDFIs is essential to sustaining their impactful work and addressing persistent economic disparities. Additionally, policymakers must prioritize policies that support the growth and sustainability of the CDFI sector, ensuring that it remains a powerful force for positive change in underserved communities.

In conclusion, the CDFI Bill stands as a testament to the power of legislative action in advancing economic justice and opportunity for all. As we look ahead, let us recommit ourselves to the principles of equity, inclusion, and empowerment that underpin the CDFI movement. Together, we can build a more just, resilient, and prosperous future for generations to come.


Natalie Madeira Cofield Pic

Natalie Madeira Cofield is the President & CEO of AEO, the voice of innovation in microbusiness and microfinance in the United States. AEO and its nearly 3,000 members have helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families, and their communities.