Learn about the history of CDFI Certification and the CDFI Fund's various awards, including how they can help your credit union grow Field of Membership.

Introduction to CDFI

Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Certification is a designation given by the CDFI Fund to special organizations that provide financial services to low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing. Certification as a CDFI makes an organization eligible to apply for awards offered by the CDFI Fund's variety of programs. To learn more about CDFI Certification, check out our recent article comparing CDFI Certification and CDE Certification.

About the CDFI Data

The data on CDFI certifications and awards come from two sources, the first of which is a dataset which contains a list of all CDFIs for each year from 2013 to 2020. The second dataset comes from the CDFI Fund's Searchable Award Database which allows one to find organizations that have received awards from 1996 to present.

History of CDFI Certifications

total cdfi institutions by year

The total number of CDFI institutions has increased steadily in recent years, from 809 certified institutions in 2013 to 1,146 certified institutions in 2020.

cdfi type by year

In 2020, over 500 CDFI-certified institutions were loaned funds and over 300 of them were credit unions.

cdfi status years type

The length of time for which institutions hold CDFI certification very much depends on the type of institution. Loan funds were more likely to have held CDFI certification for all eight years during the time period from 2013 to 2020, whereas credit unions were more likely to have held certification for shorter periods of time, including many which only held certification for a single year.

cdfi status years credit union

History of CDFI Awards

From 1996 to 2020, there were 6,830 awards given to CDFI-certified institutions totaling over $4.76 billion. 

cdfi program count

Out of those 6,830, there were 2,702 awards given through the CDFI Financial Assistance (CDFI-FA) program and 2,022 awards given through the Bank Enterprise Award (BEA) Program.

cdfi program amount

The CDFI-FA program has offered the most awards by both sum amount and quantity. Out of the $4.76 billion given to CDFI institutions between 1996 and 2020, over $2.35 billion came from the CDFI-FA program.

cdfi award amounts by program

Looking at the award amounts given by program, a few more details stand out. First, although the BEA and CDFI Technical Assistance (CDFI-TA) programs have many awards by count, these awards tended to be smaller in amount (less than $250,000). On the other hand, the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) and the Bond Guarantee Program (BOND) offer a small number of awards but a large sum amount of award money. Additionally, the CDFI-FA stands out again with its high number of awards granted, which typically range from $500,000 to $2 million.

Credit Unions and CDFI Awards

Out of the 6,830 awards given between 1996 and 2020, 665 were given to credit unions, accounting for $433 million of the total $4.76 billion given.

credit union awards by program

The CDFI-FA and CDFI-TA programs are major contributors of awards to credit unions. Of the 665 awards given from 1996 to 2020, there were 423 awards from CDFI-FA and 189 awards from CDFI-TA, although these awards varied in amount. Awards from the CDFI-TA typically ranged below $250,000 whereas the awards from the CDFI-FA most commonly ranged from $500,000 to $1 million, but also were as high as over $2 million.

credit union props line

Although credit unions made up 20–30% of CDFI certifications from 2013 to 2020, they only claimed around 10% of CDFI awards on average when considering both quantity and dollar amount. One possible explanation for this discrepancy is that there are some programs, such as BEA and BOND, which offer awards exclusively to banks.


There are many awards available to credit unions that are CDFI-certified. If you are interested in obtaining a CDFI certification or if you already have one and need assistance writing award applications, learn how CUCollaborate can help you through these processes by scheduling a free consultation with our team.

Business & Growth Strategies

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