#CDFIstory Recap


CDFI supports Blue Ox Malthouse that helps brewers create fully Maine-made beers

The remarkable decade-long resurgence of craft breweries in Maine has sparked a boom in grain agriculture statewide. But, until now, the state's brewers were unable to make a completely Maine-grown beer. Instead, they had to ship grain out of the state—and into Canada—for malting, an essential step in beer making. That's changing, thanks to Blue Ox Malthouse, Maine's first commercial malthouse, which is enabling brewers to create fully Maine-made beers.

Located in Lisbon Falls, Blue Ox Malthouse received support from Maine's Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), which specializes in rural business development and financing, in the form of a loan and participation by CEI Investment Notes, Inc. The CDFI provided a line of credit, financing for start-up equipment, and business counseling and support from CEI's Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program.

Today, the malthouse is poised to become the premier supplier of conventional and organic malt from Maine-grown grains. And, for Maine brewers and grain farmers, it connects the 5,000 acres—roughly to 14 million pounds or 7,000 tons—of malting barley grown in Maine to the $35 million market opportunity of Maine-based breweries.

"From my first visit with CEI Small Business Development Center when I was a budding entrepreneur to our successful loan application, CEI has been an integral support system for growing our company—and it still is," explains Joel Alex, owner and founder of Blue Ox Malthouse.

As it grows, Blue Ox Malthouse expects to have a considerable impact on the craft brewing houses in Maine and to bring five new living wage jobs to its community in the next two years.

Art Stevens, CEI loan and investment officer, says, "The Blue Ox Malthouse project is a great example of how an emerging generation of thoughtful entrepreneurs are returning to the land, developing value added niche offerings, and creating positive social and economic impact in the course of doing business."



America's Pastime made in the USA with FCAP financing

With the help of a $120,100 Small Business Administration Community Advantage Loan from Finance Fund Capital Corporation (FCAP), Apex Sports has "reshored" its operations from China to rural Zanesville, Ohio, becoming the only softball manufacturer based in the U.S.

Apex owner William Wilson turned to FCAP, an Ohio CDFI focused on small business lending in low-income and distressed communities, for financing to buy machinery and equipment after traditional bank lenders turned him down.

Now his patented, premium-quality, hand-stitched softballs are "Made in the USA" by six full-time and 20 part-time employees in an area that has an 8.3 percent unemployment rate and a 22 percent poverty rate. With new manufacturing techniques, including a patented poly core for maximum flight performance, Apex claims to manufacture "The Best Damn Ball. Period."

"One by one, small businesses like APEX are turning the tide and making their way back to America providing great jobs and making great products," says FCAP President Diana Turoff. "They are delivering on the pride and quality promise of 'Made in the USA'."



Homeownership support program helps first time buyer purchase a place of her own

Lynzie always knew she wanted a home of her own. She'd been renting for several years and was ready to have a place that was truly hers. But she faced obstacles to becoming a homeowner, including saving money for a down payment. She didn't see a way to save the typical 20 percent that most lenders require and knew that meant paying for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), an extra monthly payment that created further obstacles.

Through Lynzie's job, she learned about HomeLIFT, a program that provides qualified borrowers with $15,000 to use toward a down payment and closing costs on a home purchase. HomeLIFT is offered in Albuquerque, NM, through a longstanding partnership between Homestart, a division of CDFI Homewise, and Accion, a non-profit organization that supports small business owners.

Lynzie saw the HomeLIFT program as an opportunity to get the money she needed for a down payment and avoid PMI at the same time. With HomeLift's help she was able to turn her dream of homeownership into a reality.

"There's a lot of emotion attached to this experience for me," Lynzie says as she reflects on buying her home. "I've been working on this vision of my future for a long time, and it finally feels like everything in my life is coming together. I've got a great job with a nonprofit and now I've realized my dream of becoming a homeowner because of help from another nonprofit. It feels like a great collaborative circle!"



Tamale makers build dream by hand with CDFI support

Every day for two decades, Jose "Chepo" Leyva-Lopez and his wife Maria have risen at dawn to painstakingly roll hundreds of tamales. They sell these popular homemade delicacies at local agricultural fairs and produce stands across Solano County, California, and from a storefront in Elmira.

The tamale business has seen gradual but modest success. As it's grown, Chepo has had to jump the seemingly never-ending hurdles that are part of owning a growing small business. He has successfully navigated USDA inspections, complex permit applications, and numerous building regulations. "It's like running a marathon," he says of being a small business owner. "You just keep going."

Along the way, to finance some major renovations and equipment for the storefront, Chepo turned to Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), a CDFI headquartered in Sacremento that serves rural communities in 13 western states and certain Pacific islands. RCAC loaned the business $125,000 to refinance existing loans with better terms and to cover the costs of kitchen upgrades.

"This is a hard-working family that started with nothing and has strived for many years to improve and build their small business," said Mike Carnes, RCAC's loan officer. "RCAC is proud to be able to provide the financial resources needed to help them achieve their goals."



CDFI helps client gets where he needs to be

Darrell Molett was attending a community college in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Post-hurricane, without permanent housing, he struggled to hold down a job. Then, a friend encouraged him to leave NOLA and head to California for work. Once Darrell made it to the golden state, however, getting on his feet wasn't easy.

"When I first arrived in San Francisco, the main economic struggle I faced was housing," explains Darrell. "You need good credit, check stubs, and a statement from a credit union or bank. I didn't have any of that."

But Darrell caught a break when he learned about Self-Help Federal Credit Union, an Oakland-based CDFI committed to serving low-wealth and underserved communities and families. He signed up for two of Self-Help's credit-building products—a Fresh Start Loan and a Secured Credit Card. Within a year, Darrell's credit score jumped 300 points.

Today, in his new hometown, Darrell is employed part-time with NBA champions the Golden State Warriors, and is working toward a Bachelor's Degree in filmmaking at San Francisco State University.

"Self-Help took a chance on me. They listened to me and understood what I was going through. I didn't get that from a bank." says Darrell. "The credit union not only helped me financially get to where I needed to be, it helped me as a person."



TRF joins area allies to make quality early childhood education accessible to more families

Kids who get an early start with education have much better chances for thriving throughout their lives. But many low-income communities in Philadelphia lack access to quality, affordable early childhood education options. In fact, only 15 percent of the nearly 100,000 early care and education seats in Philadelphia are known to be high quality.

A unique nonprofit partnership—among Philadelphia-based CDFI The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), William Penn Foundation, and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC)—is working to fill this gap through its support of Kinder Academy. Kinder Academy is a childhood education provider offering affordable, high-quality service in Northeast Philadelphia.

In September 2015, Kinder Academy, TRF, and their partners celebrated the opening of a fourth Kinder facility, which will serve 160 children in a once vacant building. The space features nine classrooms and outdoor play space in an area of the city, which desperately needs both. It also brings full-and part-time jobs into the community.

TRF provided $1.4 million toward the acquisition and renovation of the building. In addition to TRF's financing, Kinder Academy also received support from the Fund for Quality, a William Penn Foundation initiative operated by TRF and PHMC.

"In the last year we worked closely with Kinder Academy through project planning, building acquisition, and substantial renovation to the facility. It has been an exciting process, and we are so happy to watch these projects come to fruition. Kinder Academy can now provide more high-quality programming in a community truly in need," says Bevin Parker-Cerkez, TRF loan officer and project director for the Fund for Quality.

TRF provided a comprehensive analysis on the availability of high-quality early childhood education in Philadelphia and the accessibility of child care for families with low-incomes. TRF's analysis was funded by the William Penn Foundation and is accessible through ChildcareMap, an interactive tool that helps identify neighborhoods where high-quality care is most scarce, and investments are most needed.

Leslie Spina, executive director of Kinder Academy said, "With ChildcareMap as a resource and support from the Fund for Quality and TRF, we were able to create a facility in a place where there is significant need."



In Partnership with youth-focused nonprofit, CDFI creates a safe space for young people to call home

My Home, Mi Casa (MHMC) is a partnership among Jovenes, Inc., a nonprofit that provides stable housing and community services for low-income at-risk youth, and Genesis LA, an Los Angeles-based CDFI, to provide opportunity for young people. The partnership came about as a response to the foreclosure crisis and the partners' interest in capturing suddenly below market housing inventory and preserving it as affordable housing for transition-age youth.

Genesis LA structured capital totaling more than $2 million and developed a model that allowed MHMC to compete in a market dominated by "flippers" and speculators by offering all cash purchases and short contingency and closing periods.

Today, MHMC leverages the strengths and expertise of both partners. Genesis LA, which not only oversaw financing, site selection, acquisition, and renovations but also continues to manage the books. Jovenes identifies and places clients in the housing units and continues to provide services to youth, consisting of financial literacy, education and workforce preparedness, and job placement.

To help residents establish financial health and security, as part of the financing, Genesis LA also limits its return on investment and shares a portion of income with the youth tenants. Some youth are eligible for a "youth equity share," or a return of approximately 10 percent of their rent. The money is saved until the individual leaves the property and is then paid out, providing growth for the future or a safety net.

Through the end of 2014, MHMC purchased and renovated six small properties or 22 units of housing, providing more than 30 young people a place to rest their heads. And more than 22 youth have participated in the youth equity share program.

"If it wasn’t for Jovenes, which gave me the time to save, and find a job, and find my strength again, I don't know where I'd be," says MHMC tenant Robert of living in a MHMC home.



With CDFI loan, South Shore landmark becomes a destination for arts, culture, and community

On a block in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood, a beautiful old bank building stood vacant and dilapidated for more than 30 years. Then, in 2008, it captured the attention of Theaster Gates, a noted artist, scholar, and urban planner. Recognized globally for his vision and creativity, the Chicago-based Gates saw great potential for the three story 19,065 square foot, neo-classical structure, envisioning it as a vibrant cultural and community space.

But despite his tremendous drive and international reputation, Gates faced financing challenges for a major renovation project—there were no local funds to support it; the building had no value for bank financing; and the structure was in pretty bad physical shape. Then, he learned about Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF), a CDFI that provides flexible, affordable, and responsible financing and technical assistance for community stabilization and development efforts and initiatives that benefit low-to moderate-income neighborhoods, families, and individuals in Chicago.

A loan and planning assistance from CCLF gave Gates the support he needed to rehabilitate the 1923 building into a living, breathing 21st century cultural hub. Gates opened the Stony Island Arts Bank in October 2015, earning praise from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the attention of local and national media. More importantly, the stunning site brings back to life a corner of the South Shore, making it into destination for neighborhood residents, as well as artists, thinkers, historians, curators, and more from far and wide.

"CCLF was willing to invest when banks that I had been doing business with for years would not," Gates says. "Working with people who are experts at non-conventional projects in seemingly low-yielding communities is important to my work. CCLF was generous with knowledge, curious about the project and great stewards of the loan’s progress." CCLF, for its part, was thrilled to partner with Gates because his vision for the project will result in the social impact CCLF seeks with its financing.



CDFI supports rebuilding of houses and dreams in hurricane ravaged Mississippi Gulf Coast

After Hurricane Katrina, when Mae Beth Marshall first returned to the home she and her husband Caesar had shared in Pass Christian on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it wasn’t the homecoming she’d dreamt of. The house, says Mae Beth, "was fit to be burned in a bonfire." Water had not only damaged the structure itself, but also family photos, scrapbooks, and treasured old papers from the couple's ancestors. With the home uninhabitable, Mae Beth settled in a FEMA-issued home, where she lived for two years.

During those months, Mae Beth wanted to get herself and Caesar—who suffered a heart attack shortly after the hurricane and was wheelchair-bound—back home, and she started looking for ways to do so. In the process, Mae Beth learned about HOPE Enterprise Corporation, a CDFI that strengthens communities, builds assets, and improves lives across the impoverished Mid-South region.

HOPE connected Mae Beth with its Home Again program, which provided post-Katrina mortgage financing and recovery consultation services to eligible people in the coastal region of Mississippi. The program helped Mae Beth and Caesar get back into a home in the same place their original house stood, and it equipped the house with a lift for Caesar.

Ten years later, Marshall reflects on having a new house to call home, "This home means God meant for me to get through all this and end back here. I'm back. I'm here."



CDFI enables Detroit health care provider to bring quality care to underserved community

Advantage Health Centers in Detroit serves the city's uninsured, homeless, and medically underserved residents. When AHC was ready to build a new facility on the iconic 8 Mile Road in Warren, Michigan, it received a $1.9 million federal grant. But grant funds went toward buying and renovating a building in this traditionally low-income and underserved community, and AHC's funding for the project fell $300,000 short.

To fill this gap, the health care provider turned to Capital Impact Partners. The CDFI, which is working block by block with its partners to revitalize Detroit, helped finance a new building that has enabled AHC to expand into an area of the city where 90 percent of the people live at or below the poverty level.

Opened in 2013, the new Warren center provides a "front door" of care to Detroit's east side, a predominantly African-American, Bangladeshi, Muslim, and Eastern European community. Without AHC’s services for children and adults—which include preventative and sick care, gynecology, screenings, prescription assistance, substance abuse, and mental health treatment—most residents would have otherwise gone untreated or waited until symptoms forced them to visit an emergency room.

Says Joe Ferguson, AHC executive director, "The east side has been devastated by the demise of automotive jobs. Poverty often brings with it behavioral issues, such as depression and substance abuse. We're able to address the needs of people with physical and mental problems, as well as support lifestyle management." He goes on to say about the new center that features 23 treatment rooms. "We couldn't have done it without Capital Impact. They provided the last piece of critical funding."


Thank you to all of our sponsors this year!


Lead Sponsor Bank of America
Platinum Sponsors
Gold Sponsors
Silver Sponsors

Federal Home Loan Bank System / Morgan Stanley / Northern Trust / PNC Bank, NA / Prudential / Sam's Club / U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation


Bank of the West / BB&T / BBVA Compass / Cinnaire / Fifth Third Bank / NeighborWorks America / ZRG Partners


Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP / Charles Schwab Bank / Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation / Disability Opportunity Fund / FUND Consulting, LLC / The Knight Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan / National Cooperative Bank / Ohio Capital Finance Corporation / PIDC/Portfol / Plante Moran / Prudent Lenders, LLC / Standard & Poor's Ratings Services / Urban Partnership Bank


Aeris / Ally Bank / CommonGoals Software / Community Reinvestment Fund, USA / ImpactUS / Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) / ONABEN / PCFS Solutions / RSM / The Community Development Trust


Capital Impact Partners / Chi Ishobak, Inc. / Cinnaire / Corporation for Supportive Housing / Detroit Development Fund / IFF / Invest Detroit / Local Initiatives Support Corporation / Metro Community Development, Inc. / Northern Initiatives / One Detroit Credit Union / Opportunity Resource Fund

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