By Liz Lopez
Partnerships between YWCAs and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) bring needed resources to women, who are critically important economic drivers in some of our nation’s most vulnerable communities. Both YWCAs and CDFIs focus on social justice and empowerment. Both seek to build access to financial tools that support inclusion in the economic mainstream for rural, urban, and Native communities. Both seek to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination. Partnerships between YWCAs and CDFIs work so well because their missions strongly align.
By partnering with CDFIs, YWCAs expand their ability to empower women—shaping opportunities for women’s economic success, prosperity, and safety for themselves and their families. These partnerships also help CDFIs reach women directly, providing needed resources to women-owned businesses and women-serving nonprofits. CDFIs leverage sources of capital from the private and public sectors (including banks, foundations, corporations, and government), while YWCAs leverage our network of women leaders across the country. Together we can democratize economic opportunity for women and the next generation of leaders.
After joining YWCA USA from Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), I learned of only a few YWCAs that had worked with CDFIs and Community Development Entities (CDEs) to access loans, seek capacity building training, and leverage the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) programs. My mission when joining YWCA USA became clear: I needed to provide a more systemic solution to providing women with the economic justice they have been denied for generations, and CDFIs would become the vehicle to help get us there.
YWCAs know first-hand that when women succeed economically, they create safer, healthier lives for themselves, their children, and their communities. It is for this reason that we at YWCA USA began to explore how we could serve as a connector between YWCAs, CDFIs, and the private sector. We envisioned partnerships resulting in the deployment of capital through CDFIs serving as financial vehicles and YWCAs serving on the ground as community partners.
As part of these efforts, we are excited to announce the launch of the YWCA CDFI Map in collaboration with OFN. The map showcases the impact of 200+ YWCAs and 200+ CDFIs nationwide. Each YWCA profile on the map includes contact information, census tract number, NMTC census tract eligibility (39 YWCAs and 115 YWCAs are in designated “Qualified” and “Severely Distressed Areas” respectively), and total number of women, girls, and families served. Each CDFI profile includes the organization’s contact information, geography served, and lending sectors.
Our goal is for YWCAs, CDFIs, and economic development stakeholders to leverage the YWCA CDFI Map’s data to learn about where and what types of services YWCAs and CDFIs currently deploy and find synergies for cross collaboration in communities nationwide. Data becomes our common language to better inform our shared strategic vision of reaching any and every woman that seeks support.
If you have questions about YWCA USA’s work with CDFIs, please contact? Liz Lopez, Senior Director of Social Impact Investing & External Affairs. You can also follow @YWCAUSA on social media for regular updates about our social impacting investing efforts.