Welcome To CDF!

Community Development Finance is a 501c3 nonprofit organization located in California. Our mission is to assist low-income and very low-income households, communities and businesses with increased access to capital and financial literacy by offering below-market rate financial services and products to low-income, underserved and unbanked people in communities everywhere. It is also our mission to create new partnerships and assist other institutions in increasing access to capital in these neighborhoods.

CDF opened the first and only nonprofit, full-service, stand-alone check cashing store in the country in May 2009, in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, California.

Until its closing in 2023, our storefront, called Community Check Cashing (pictured, left), offered below-market rates, minimal fees, and a broad range of financial services, including financial coaching and small business services — all designed to help low-income families move out of poverty. We operated the store on a social enterprise model: a nonprofit check cashing institution in which the check cashing services component of the operations are financially sustainable through earned revenue while using donations and grants to support the coaching, social services and administration.

CDF’s programs have proven to save customers a great deal of money individually each year – we estimate an annual savings to the community of $150,000 to $200,000 from our lower prices and other services.  This amounts to at least $1.5 million in savings in the neighborhood since we opened in 2009.

CDF has been involved in many innovative programs in its short history through partnerships and developing new programs.  And, while CDF presently operates only one store, it has the potential for a much larger impact. We have extensive experience with lending programs, for example.  Based on this experience, CDF has developed a two-tier lending program that, with the appropriate support, potentially can reach a large scale, be operationally self-sufficient once it reaches scale, and offer fair products to replace predatory payday, car title and installment loans.  In addition, CDF is involved in various policy development efforts.

Latest Articles


It is with great sadness that we are announcing the closing of our store in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, California. We first opened on May 1, 2009. After over 14 years of operation, we have decided to close the store.

We want to thank our customers – many of whom became friends, our supporters, […]

The Demographics and Results of CDF Lending

CDF recently reviewed its lending programs and their impacts. There are some important conclusions from this review. Click the title above to read on!

CDF Payments Activities and Transformation  

Community Development Finance (CDF) continues to evolve and respond to community needs. Most recently, our unique infrastructure has proven useful to a variety of public agencies, nonprofits and a foundation in supplying needed backup services. These services all assist people in need, low-income households, and people of color.

Primarily, these services involve payments in some way. To summarize briefly our disbursement/payment programs through November 2022:

CDF’s New Grant-Making Capacity

CDF has developed a wide range of tools to assist its clients and customers, including loans, financial literacy training/coaching, payments assistance, check cashing, wiring money, etc. These financial services, which mostly are provided at a greatly reduced price or at no price, have proven very helpful to our customers and clients. But we have never had grant-making capacity as one of those tools.

CDF Receives County Award to Create a New Store

Alameda County’s Community Development Agency awarded CDF $535,000 in August 2022 to create a low-cost financial services program in an unincorporated area of the county (Cherryland and Ashland). The funds are to be used to create a new store to offer a range of low-cost financial services including lending, financial coaching, check cashing and related […]

Teachers Rooted in Oakland Partnership

Teachers Rooted in Oakland (TRiO): A Partnership Between the Oakland Mayor’s Office, Community Development Finance (CDF), Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), DGI, and Philanthropic Partners Our Mission: To advance educational equity by addressing the cost of living and providing affordable housing to increase the recruitment & retention of highly skilled and committed Black, Latinx, and […]

CDF Partnerships

Community Development Finance (CDF) has participated in a number of partnerships since opening in 2009.  We recently announced our new partnership with Our Biswas which has provided funds to enable us to make interest-free loans.  Our Biswas, an international lender headquartered in East Lansing, Michigan, uses the Nano Finance method and has wanted to […]

New Partnership: Our Biswas

Community Development Finance (CDF) wishes to announce a new partnership with Our Biswas. This non-profit organization works overseas offering financial support to very low income women. Please visit www.ourbiswasusa.org to learn about the organization.

Our Biswas is working through the innovative concept of Nano Finance to provide emergency and basic needs to thousands of […]

Addressing Gentrification and Homelessness Pressures and Community Development Needs in the Bay Area

There has been a great deal of discussion about the lack of affordable housing, nonprofit office space, homeless housing and artists’ housing in Oakland due to the tragic warehouse fire, the issues associated with SROs and their conversions, the need for broader community development options and programs, the lack of good jobs, problems faced by small businesses, bank closures, and the overall increasing pressures from gentrification including rent and housing sales price increases.  These same conditions exist throughout the Bay Area for the most part. Many excellent solutions presently exist and are in operation, and many excellent recommendations have been made. …The need for additional strategies and a more encompassing approach have become clear from several recent events….

Payday Loans: Predatory Evil or Absolute Necessity: Debt, Banks and a New Policy Perspective

Pay day loans are very controversial.  On one hand, payday loans are reviled by many public officials, members of the clergy, policy makers, academics and researchers, analysts, journalists, advocates and others who have created a somewhat relentless attack on this financial service product over the last several years.

Payday loans and associated non-bank financial services are not popular products by the standard definition. Depending on which figures one uses, 3 percent to 5 percent of American consumers view payday lending or associated non-bank financial services like check cashing favorably.