Cal./Nev. league, federation explore CDFI expansion

October 19, 2015

NEW YORK (10/19/15)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, CUNA Mutual Group and the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues announced a joint initiative to increase the number of community development financial institution (CDFI)- certified credit unions in California.

The federation's CU Breakthrough consulting group and CUNA Mutual Group will sponsor up to 30 credit unions in the application process for CDFI certification. CUNA Mutual committed $75,000 to the initiative.

Interested credit unions can register for informational roundtables that will outline the benefits of CDFI certification and the application process. They will be held on Dec. 8 in Ontario, Calif., and Dec. 10 in Oakland, Calif.

The CDFI-certified credit union industry is growing, with 261 credit unions currently certified nationwide. They have combined assets of $50 billion and provide services to six million primarily low-income consumers in financially underserved communities.

The benefits of certification include access to financial grants from the CDFI Fund, partnership opportunities with other financial institutions and community organizations, access to New Market Tax Credits and the enhanced ability to raise funds from foundations, corporations and state and local government.

Since the CDFI's inception in 1994, more than $168 million has been awarded to California CDFIs, but California credit unions have received only $14 million, or less than 10% of the dollars awarded. There are 60 low-income-designated credit unions in California.

The first step in increasing the number of CDFI awards to California credit unions is to increase the number of credit unions that are CDFI-certified. Only certified credit unions are eligible to receive funding.

Credit unions should note that low-income designation is not a requirement for CDFI certification. All California credit unions interested in serving low-income consumers are invited to attend the October roundtables.

California credit unions can contact Pablo DeFilippi, federation vice president of membership and business development, at to learn more.

Grants will be awarded based on asset size, need and community development profile. The certification process takes roughly six weeks and involves a seven-step verification process.