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Posts Tagged ‘Opportunity Finance Network’

New Hampshire Community Loan Fund receives grant from Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network’s “Create Jobs for USA” Fund

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

A New Hampshire community lender today received a $231,000 grant from the Create Jobs for USA Fund, a collaboration between Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network (OFN). The money will help the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund (Community Loan Fund) create and sustain jobs in New Hampshire as part of a national campaign to support small, community businesses.

The Community Loan Fund is one of just 28 community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in the nation to win a grant in the inaugural funding round. The grant was made possible by a $5-million seed contribution from the Starbucks Foundation. The Fund expects to raise tens of millions of dollars more, according to a spokesman, and 100% of these donations will go to CDFIs to finance underserved community businesses, and to help create and sustain jobs in underserved communities

Starting yesterday, the Create Jobs for USA Fund is collecting donations at www.CreateJobsforUSA.org and at nearly 7,000 company-operated Starbucks across the country. CDFIs that are OFN members will compete for these funds on a rolling basis.

“Create Jobs for USA is making it possible for Americans who have $5 to share help people who don’t have $5 to spare by creating and retaining jobs in their communities,” explained Mark Pinsky, OFN’s President and CEO. “The Community Loan Fund received this grant because it has demonstrated that it will provide financing that is good for community businesses and good for communities.”

The Create Jobs for USA campaign will benefit business owners like Brad Sterl Jr., CEO of Rustic Crust in Pittsfield. Sterl, one of the business owners featured on the Create Jobs for USA Web site, needed financing to expand his business but was turned down by traditional lenders.

A $500,000 loan from the Community Loan Fund’s Vested for Growth team helped Sterl get his artisan-quality, natural and organic pizza products into more stores and create nearly 20 new jobs in a depressed and job-needy area of New Hampshire.

“We’re pleased that Starbucks recognizes the important work that CDFIs are doing, and honored that the Create Jobs for USA Fund has made a first-round grant to us,” said Community Loan Fund President Juliana Eades. “Create Jobs for USA is unprecedented for the CDFI industry. It is shining a national spotlight on our work and will help the Community Loan Fund get New Hampshire’s small businesses the financing they need create and sustain jobs.”

Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) provide financing to community businesses in underserved markets where would-be community business owners may not qualify for credit from traditional lending institutions. Community businesses include small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate developers, and affordable housing developers. All of these community businesses help to create and sustain local jobs.

For information about the Community Loan Fund’s Small-Business Loans, please go to http://www.communityloanfund.org/businessloans. Businesses located outside of New Hampshire can find a local CDFI lender at http://opportunityfinance.net/findacdfi.

NH Community Loan Fund Top-Rated for Social Impact

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund has received the highest possible rating for its social impact performance from CARS™, the CDFI Assessment and Ratings System. CARS helps investors and donors assess the creditworthiness and impact performance of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).

NH Community Loan Fund President Juliana Eades and her dedicated staff are a force for positive change in the state of New Hampshire.

NH Community Loan Fund President Juliana Eades and her dedicated staff are a force for positive change in the state of New Hampshire.

CARS awarded the Community Loan Fund, a statewide nonprofit, the top grade – AAA – for its impact performance. The Community Loan Fund also earned the second-highest rating for its financial strength and performance and a “Policy Plus” designation for its work to improve government laws and policies on behalf of people and communities with low incomes.

The Concord-based Community Loan Fund turns investments into loans and education to create opportunity for people with low incomes. It collaborates with a wide range of donors and lenders, and with business, nonprofit and government partners, to provide the financing and support people need to have affordable homes, have quality jobs and child care, and become financially independent.

“This CARS rating is a real testament to the strength of the Community Loan Fund’s strategies and financial practices. It says that even through a recession that rocked financial institutions worldwide, the Community Loan Fund successfully helped people and communities with low incomes seize opportunities to transform their lives,” said Community Loan Fund Board Chair Ed Tomey, of Keene.

CARS was developed by the Opportunity Finance Network, the national association of CDFIs, and launched in 2004. “Socially responsible investors are attracted to CDFIs because they offer a unique blend of financial discipline plus positive social or economic impact in their marketplace,” said CARS director Paige Chapel.

National financial institutions such as Bank of America and Citi, and major philanthropic organizations including the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, use CARS to identify investment opportunities.

The Community Loan Fund was the first CDFI evaluated in 2005, when the CARS system was still evolving, and has twice (in 2008 and 2011) duplicated its AAA rating with more-stringent evaluations.

“Three times now, outside evaluators have taken a rigorous look at what we do, how we do it, and our impact on New Hampshire families and communities. Three times they’ve given us a triple ‘thumbs up,’ ” said Community Loan Fund President Juliana Eades. “Their judgment reaffirms our financial strength and resilience as we’ve weathered this extreme recession with high-performing loans and effective technical assistance.”

The CARS rating signals to the Community Loan Fund’s supporters that “they can be assured that their donations and loans, which make our work possible, are creating the maximum social impact,” Eades said.

The 65 CARS-rated CDFIs represent about 11% of all CDFI Fund-certified loan funds. However, these rated institutions currently manage 30% of all on-balance sheet assets among certified groups.

Since 1983, the Community Loan Fund has loaned more than $144 million, leveraging more than $444 million for its projects.