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  • CU Strategic Planning

What’s Happening with CDFI Certification, Recertification and Grants?

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The past five months have seen a lot of news about Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), between changes to the certification process and new developments regarding awards programs. We’ve pulled together a brief overview of the state of the CDFI credit union world, taken from CU Strategic Planning’s in-depth webinar hosted at the end of April, covering topics your credit union should know in order to hold on to your CDFI certification or become certified, as well as the future of CDFI grant programs.


CDFI Fund Recertification

At the end of last year, the CDFI Fund modernized its certification process. Given that the due date for recertification this year is Dec. 20, it’s crucial for CDFI credit union leaders to familiarize themselves with the new requirements. A few of the new requirements include:


  • A Community Development Mission Statement: Credit unions looking to reapply for certification need a qualified, board-approved community development mission statement in place for six months before reapplying. If your credit union plans to recertify in 2024, you must have your mission statement in place by June 20, 2024.

  • Transaction Level Reporting: Regarding the lending targets CDFI credit unions must meet, the threshold to maintain certification has been updated. CDFI credit unions now need to meet a 60/60 threshold for the number of loans and dollars of loans. CDFI credit unions will have to prove that 60% of the number of loans and 60% of the dollar amount of loans are to people of modest means, or 60% of either and 50% of the other plus 50% of other financial services were made to members in their target market.

  • CDFI Governance Accountability: To meet this requirement, part of your credit union’s advisory board must be held “accountable” to the target market, meaning those board members come from the low-income census tract, such as having a small business in that tract or being low-income themselves. Credit unions have two options: Either 33% of the CDFI credit union’s board is accountable to the CDFI’s target market, or the credit union can develop a Community Development Advisory Board of at least five people, with 60% of the advisory board being accountable.

  • Overdraft protection: This is an area where CDFI credit unions must be thoughtful and mission-driven.  The CDFI Fund is requiring a review of how the product is being offered, as well as the fee structure, so CDFI credit unions might need to adjust their programs to be recertified.


Future CDFI Grant Opportunities

Grant work continues alongside CDFI recertification, and we’re providing our credit unions expert assistance to win the awards that create differences in their communities and make certification worthwhile.


Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund

An important way for credit unions to support their communities long-term is by investing in projects that help protect the environment, and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is providing remarkable opportunities to do just that by providing resources to implement green lending strategies or amplify the lending that’s already taking place in your credit union


Our focus will be assisting with applications for the Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA) Program of the GGRF. These awards aren’t restricted to CDFI credit unions and the CCIA program is providing capitalization funding up to $10 million or technical assistance funding up to $1 million. The applications from the program hubs haven’t been released yet but we expect to see them soon.


FA Awards 2025

Not long after the recertification deadline closes this December, CDFI credit unions will be able to submit applications for the 2025 CDFI Fund Financial Assistance Program Awards. This means that the time to start preparing the applications is now; our Community Development team is already starting to meet with some of our 2025 FA class.


Small Dollar Loan Grants 2025

Small dollar loans are essential programs for CDFI credit unions to combat payday lenders preying on their members. For those members looking to borrow just enough to make it to their next payday, having such services is paramount for the community. We’re pleased to be able to offer assistance with SDL Program applications this year.


Advocacy Efforts

Advocacy efforts on behalf of CDFI credit unions continue on multiple fronts, working toward the goal of helping existing CDFIs recertify under the new guidelines even as adjustments in lending and reporting are being made. The CDFI Fund has indicated that its intention is not to decertify large numbers of CDFIs with its new rules.


CDFI credit unions continue to impact the communities they serve, and our work with our credit unions continues to unlock opportunities for our credit unions.


Learn more about All Things CDFI by viewing the webinar, read about our CDFI and consulting services, or connect with us to find out how CU Strategic Planning can assist your credit union.




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