(THURSDAY, June 24, 2021) — Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced on Thursday that six Vermont Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are receiving Rapid Response Program funds authorized by the Fiscal Year 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The grants will provide capital needed for CDFIs to respond to economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in underserved communities.
The Rapid Response Program awarded $1.25 billion in grants to 863 CDFIs across the country. CDFIs are banks, credit unions, loan funds and venture capital funds that provide affordable financial products and services in economically distressed areas.
Six Vermont organizations received $5.7 million in grants:
- Community Capital of Vermont received $200,000
- Northern Community Investment Corporation received $346,500
- Opportunities Credit Union received $1,500,000
- NeighborWorks of Western Vermont received $882,000
- Vermont Community Loan Fund received $1,826,265
- VSJF Flexible Capital Fund L3C received $1,012,000
Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: “Vermont’s CDFIs have played an important role in Vermont’s economy by investing in small businesses, families and neighborhoods that would not otherwise be able to access capital from conventional lenders. These rapid response funds will help Vermont’s economy recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensure that the recovery is equitable. Because of these CDFIs having additional funding, more Vermonters will have access to safe and affordable housing, childcare, small business capital and health care.”
Sanders said: “Far too often, far too many rural communities in Vermont and around the country lack the resources and services that enable local businesses to start up, grow, and thrive. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic our small businesses suffered tremendously, while at the same time standing on the frontlines with our communities, providing essential services such as food, supplies, and employment when people needed them the most. But in order for our small businesses to survive, they need access to capital; access that would be nearly impossible if they were left to compete against massive, profiteering corporations. That is why federal funding for these rapid response grants is so important. With this funding, our communities and small business will be able to make critical investments in child care, housing, health care, and other key services that benefit all Vermonters.”
Welch said: “These rapid response funds are critical for the most vulnerable among us. This additional funding means that organizations on the front lines of Vermont’s economic recovery efforts will have the ability to boost their lending capacity to provide much-needed financing to struggling small businesses, families, and projects in hard-hit areas, like our rural communities. This helps put us on the path toward an inclusive post-COVID recovery that leaves no Vermonter behind.”
The federal CDFI Program invests in and builds the capacity of community credit unions, banks, loan funds and other financial institutions serving rural and urban communities across the nation that lack adequate access to affordable financial products and services. Since its creation in 1994, the CDFI Fund has awarded more than $3.6 billion to CDFIs, community development organizations, and financial institutions.