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March 17, 2014

CDFIs Pledge $1 Billion to Support My Brother's Keeper
    by Robert Kropp

Opportunity Finance Network launches campaign for $1 billion annually in new financing by community development financial institutions, to benefit low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities across America.

SocialFunds.com -- Last month, President Obama announced the launch of My Brother's Keeper, an initiative intended to improve opportunities for boys and young men of color. “Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career,” a fact sheet from the White House press office stated. The initiative “is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color – something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans.”

A number of the nation's leading foundations announced at the launch that they will invest at least $200 million over a five-year period “to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas.”

Earlier this month, the nation's largest network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) announced that it too was joining the effort. Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), a network of 225 CDFIs, stated that its members have committed to originating $1 billion annually in new financing that benefits young people of color.

“CDFI financing will support early care through high school education, community health centers and healthy foods in underserved communities, entrepreneurship and small business financing, after school programs, and quality, affordable housing that makes opportunities possible for so many,” a letter to President Obama stated.

“We work to align capital with justice,” OFN President Mark Pinsky said. “The Youth Opportunity Pledge is our commitment to hold ourselves accountable to black and Latino male youth and other youth of color in our nation.”

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