Who We Are
THE CDFI STORY
Forward Community Investments (FCI), formerly known as the “Dane Fund,” was established in 1994. Incorporated as a Wisconsin non-stock corporation and recognized as exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, FCI is certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a community development financial institution (CDFI). CDFIs are private financial institutions that are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help disinvested people and communities join the economic mainstream.
CDFIs are profitable but not profit maximizing. As mission-driven lenders, CDFIs leverage funding from private and public sources to finance community businesses—including small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate, and affordable housing—and spark job growth and retention in hard-to-serve U.S. markets.
In addition to connecting capital to communities and people that need it, many CDFIs also provide financial education, technical assistance, and capacity-building support to the organizations, businesses, or individuals they serve.
While the term “community development financial institutions” or “CDFI” is relatively new, the concept itself is part of a rich history of self-help credit.
From the immigrant guilds of New York City’s Lower East Side and the Prairie Populists of the late 1800s, to African-American communities forming the first community development credit unions in the 1930s, communities have sought self-help credit solutions because traditional financial institutions ignored or abandoned them.
The current CDFI industry began taking shape in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the 1970s, many business-development loan funds were launched with federal funds. Later factors that contributed to the growth of CDFIs included the creation of the CDFI Fund in 1994, along with revisions to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations in 1995 which explicitly recognize loans and investments in CDFIs as a qualified CRA activity.
Today, there are over 950 certified CDFIs serving rural and urban communities in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.