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Social Capitalists: Community Reinvestment Fund, USA

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2008 Winner

Community Reinvestment Fund, USA

Frank Altman, CEO
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) is the nation’s leader in bringing capital to public and private nonprofit community development lenders through the secondary market for loans. CRF has injected hundreds of millions of dollars into low-income and economically disadvantaged communities around the country to help stimulate job creation and economic development, provide affordable housing and support community facilities.


To transform the community development finance system by accessing capital markets on behalf of local development lenders to enable them to increase their impact on the lives of people and their communities.


CRF is committed to closing the gap between the need for funds in distressed communities and the availability of dollars to invest in these communities. With the inception of CRF came the innovation of the secondary market for economic development loans. CRF purchases economic development and affordable housing loans from nonprofit and community development lenders that exist to meet the needs of borrowers who cannot obtain financing from conventional mainstream lending sources.

Traditionally, community development lenders did not have access to the capital needed to support the demand of loan requests received from the community. By purchasing loans from community development lenders, CRF provides the capital and liquidity needed to enable them to make more loans—driving significantly more capital to disadvantaged communities. CRF then pools these loans as asset-backed debt securities, which are sold to institutional investors through private placements. This process truly brings the resources of Wall Street to the needs of Main Street.

Community Impact

CRF partners with a national network of community-based lenders who leverage the capital it provides to generate community impact across the country. Since 1988, CRF has injected more than $890 million into distressed communities.

Those who ultimately benefit from the secondary market for community development finance are individuals seeking the American dream. As a result of the funding CRF provides, workers in low-income communities have increased job opportunities, business owners are able to grow and expand their businesses, more affordable housing units are constructed, community facilities are improved, and minority-, women-, and immigrant-owned businesses are given opportunity. Since inception, CRF has touched the lives of over 97,000 families across the nation resulting in:

  • 15,660 affordable housing units
  • 31,190 jobs created or retained
  • Funding for 444 minority- and women-owned businesses


While public resources are tightening, the need for community development funding is increasing, prompting CRF to continually evaluate how it can bring the benefits of the secondary market to significantly more community development lenders. Our growth vision is driven by a firm belief that increasing the scale of our operations will result in distinct advantages in the effectiveness and impact of our community development lending partners.

CRF is committed to delivering $1 billion in capital to community development lenders by 2010, broadening the universe of organizations selling loans to CRF, expanding the amount of social capital raised to support our higher loan purchase volume and steadily improving the operating efficiency of CRF.

These advancements will provide community development lenders with greater access to capital and improve the lives of substantially more individuals and communities in need. We predict that the number of jobs and affordable housing units created through the secondary market by 2010 will nearly double the amount generated during the first 18 years of CRF’s existence — strengthening the economic vitality of communities – keeping the vision of America as the land of opportunity alive.