Credit Union CDFI Certification
CUCollaborate is dedicated to helping you navigate the certification process so you can access CDFI grants.
What Is a CDFI Certification?
The CDFI Fund
According to the CDFI's website, the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Certification is a designation given by the CDFI Fund to specialized organizations that provide financial services in low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing. CDFIs include regulated institutions such as community development banks and credit unions, and non-regulated institutions like loan and venture capital funds. By building the capacity of a nationwide network of CDFIs, the CDFI Fund works to empower low-income and underserved people and communities to enter the financial mainstream.
To apply for certification, your organization must submit an application to the CDFI Fund for review. The application must demonstrate that the applicant meets each of the following requirements:
- Is a legal entity at the time of certification application;
- Has a primary mission of promoting community development;
- Is a financing entity;
- Primarily serves one or more target markets;
- Provides development services in conjunction with its financing activities;
- Maintains accountability to its defined target market; and
- Is a non-government entity and not under the control of any government entity (Tribal governments excluded).
The Benefits of Certification
Access to Grant Money
According to the NCUA, CDFIs are eligible to apply for multiple programs offered by the CDFI Fund that provide direct funding through awards or grants and indirect funding, such as through a bond guarantee program. For CDFI credit unions, this could mean access to grant awards that can help grow capabilities and further the mission of serving members and their communities. CDFIs also can access resources such as technical assistance, training and capacity-building initiatives to support their mission.
In 2019, the CDFI Fund awarded $130.88 million to 38 organizations. When more credit unions become CDFI certified and successfully apply for funding, more CDFI Fund dollars can flow into credit unions to improve members’ financial lives.