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.
Our storefront, called Community Check Cashing (pictured, left), offers 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 operate 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 about $1.2 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.
All told, $1.6 billion each year of interest, excessive fees, and other exorbitant costs are being charged to poor people every single day, making it almost physically and fiscally impossible for individuals to exit the poverty cycle. Most often, minorities and immigrants, as well as poor whites, are all locked in a financial roundabout in which there is no escape.
Today, the number of private check cashers, payday lenders and pawnshops is more than double the number of McDonald’s franchises in the United States. More than 20 million Americans cash more than $60 billion in checks each year at check cashing businesses