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Minnesota-based CDFIs Hold First Convening

October 20, 2022

Organizational leaders, staff gather to explore advocacy, leadership development and collaboration to expand economic opportunity into low-income areas

ST. CLOUD, Minn.--A majority of Minnesota’s 33 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) will send leaders and program staff to a kickoff convening of the first-ever coalition of Minnesota-based CDFIs on Monday, Oct. 24, at Saint John’s University in Collegeville.

Leaders from CDFIs serving nonprofits, small businesses, Native initiatives, housing and more are working together to plan this kick-off event aimed to be the catalyst for advocacy work, peer learning and staff development.

“Minnesota has a long history of very active, innovative, community-focused CDFIs, and it is really exciting to be bringing them together to leverage each other’s knowledge and experiences,” said Kate Barr, President & CEO of Propel Nonprofits.

CDFIs are certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and share a common goal of expanding economic opportunity in low-income areas. CDFIs provide access to financial products and services and can be banks, credit unions, loan funds, microloan funds or venture capital providers. They strive to foster economic opportunity and revitalize neighborhoods by supporting community residents with housing, starting businesses and by investing in local health centers, schools or community centers.

This coordinated effort includes leaders from Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota, Initiative Foundation, Latino Economic Development Center, Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, Neighborhood Development Center, Propel Nonprofits and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. The goal of the convening is to intentionally build a network of CDFIs to tell a shared story about CDFIs, their intermediaries and the impact they deliver in Minnesota. The group also intends to surface data and real-life examples that will make the case for their collective importance in supporting communities that have been historically under-resourced.

“CDFIs are tasked with expanding economic opportunity in our communities, and it isn’t enough to be reactive–it is important for us to work together, share the knowledge and feedback of our communities, and strategize about what is best for Minnesota,” said Henry Jiménez, executive director of the Latino Economic Development Center.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, 1,000 CDFIs operate nationwide as a collaborative force that brings together diverse private- and public-sector investors to create economic opportunity in low-income communities.

“The Initiative Foundation is delighted to welcome our fellow CDFIs to Central Minnesota,” said Matt Varilek, president of the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation. “Just as we leverage our CDFI status to open doors for entrepreneurs across the 14 counties and two native nations of our service area, our fellow Minnesota CDFIs are working in parallel to catalyze greater prosperity across the state.”

This gathering is supported by the Minnesota Council on Foundations and its SERVICE Fund.

Planning Committee and Minnesota CDFI Information:

Kate Barr, Propel Nonprofits (kbarr(at)propelnonprofits.org)
Robyn Bipes-Timm, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity (robyn.bipes(at)tchabitat.org)
Renay Dossman, Neighborhood Development Center (RDossman(at)ndc-mn.org)
Elena Gaarder, Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (egaarder(at)mccdmn.org)
Cristen Incitti, Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota (cristen(at)hfhmn.org)
Henry Jiménez, Latino Economic Development Center (henry(at)ledcmn.org)
Julia Nelmark, Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation (jnelmark(at)mmcdc.com)
Matt Varilek, Initiative Foundation (mvarilek(at)ifound.org)
Brian Voerding, Initiative Foundation (bvoerding(at)ifound.org)

For more information about CDFIs, visit cdfifund.gov.

About the Initiative Foundation
The Initiative Foundation supports a 14-county service area that includes Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright counties and the sovereign tribal nations of the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe. Based in Little Falls, the Foundation exists to improve the quality of life and to build stronger communities in Central Minnesota by offering business loans, nonprofit grants, leadership training and donor services through its Partner Funds programs. Since 1986, the Initiative Foundation and its Partner Funds have invested multiple millions in the region through targeted grants and business financing investments. 



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