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 bring its philosophies to the United States as well. They chose CDF to work with and provided a grant to CDF in 2020 to make interest-free loans to our clients in Oakland and the surrounding area. The maximum loan originally was $500 but this limit soon may be increased to $1,000.
In addition, CDF has been actively partnering with several other institutions in the last year on other crucial programs:
- A program to disburse funds to immigrants who have been ineligible for federal relief funds due to the impacts of covid-19. There is an inadequate infrastructure needed to make these disbursements and CDF already had an excellent infrastructure in place. As a result, CDF has partnered with five Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) schools, Centro Legal de la Raza, Immigrant Legal Defense and the Oakland Education Fund. We developed appropriate processes, procedures and documentation to operate the program. Through January 8, 2021, CDF has received and mostly disbursed $2,547,815.06 to 4,976 people. These funds are going to people greatly struggling to survive to put food on their tables for their families and to keep paying their rent. CDF also has provided a financial training session to one high school class on credit, credit scores and credit cards.
- A program to disburse funds to low-income teachers of color in the STEM and special education fields who cannot afford to live in the area while teaching in Oakland. The pilot program, in which CDF is partnering with the Oakland Mayor’s Office, offers “…OUSD ‘teacher-residents’ – graduate students training with mentor teachers while completing their teaching credential – the option of subsidized housing at an Oakland housing development in the Laurel District and separately provides new teachers stipends while also offering free financial advising services, including small interest-free loans. The pilot program currently serves 12 teachers, 11 of whom are BIPOC and 50% of whom are Bay Area born or raised.” CDF is disbursing $150,000 in the initial year and is holding funding and commitments of $165,000 for future years. CDF also has made available in-depth financial coaching to program participants.
In addition to these partnerships, CDF has been involved in several others over the years as well:
- East Palo Alto Can Do. CDF worked on developing the financing elements along with the overall design of a new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program and also briefly served as the fiscal sponsor for the organization.
- Ridgeview Terrace Apartments and Jackie Robinson Apartments. CDF has contracted with these two affordable housing developments in the Bay View neighborhood of San Francisco since 2014 to provide monthly financial training workshops and individual, one-on-one assistance to any resident with financial issues to work on.
- Marin City Community Development Corporation. As part of the program with Our Biswas, CDF has developed a partnership with the Marin City Community Development Corporation to refer their clients to CDF for zero-interest loans scheduled to start in 2021.
- Financial Technology Companies. CDF has had important joint programs with several fintech companies: SimpleFi for a lending program, airbanq for a check cashing program and Funding University for providing loan servicing and some lending for student loans to low income students. CDF also participated in much smaller programs with LendUp and HoneyBee.
- We also have worked with many other organizations and institutions in various roles in the past including the Alameda County Department of Public Health, Aspen Institute, the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union, BankACT (collaborating on an article on post office banking), Planting Justice, the Perlman Angel Fund (which provided us with grants to subsidize loan payments made by our borrowers) and others, as well as discussing a very wide range of other possible store locations, programs and partnerships over the years.
Partnerships are an excellent way to work with other organizations to reach many more people than CDF could reach on its own and to bring expanded and improved financial services. CDF plans on creating more partnerships with other organizations in the future in order to offer deeper and wider financial services to people needing these services.