Since 2011, when OFN launched our Equity initiative, we have worked to build a strong relationship between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the CDFI industry. Earlier this year, in an exciting partnership toward this goal, OFN and the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition (HBCU-CDAC)established a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) aiming to:

  • Improve the identification and sustainable growth of underrepresented talent in community development finance fields through internships, career literacy programs, and mentoring,
  • Create a contiguous and synergistic social capital resource pool to assist in talent development from entry level through C-level executive leadership, and
  • Identify synergistic opportunities for partnerships in economic and community development.

OFN and HBCU-CDAC recently kicked off outreach about CDFIs with Lunch and Learn events this spring at three HBCUs: Benedict College, Delaware State University, and Howard University. The events are designed to introduce students to the CDFI industry and to provide OFN the opportunity to speak with faculty, staff, and administrators about developing longer term partnerships. During the first round of events, representatives from OFN and HBCU-CDAC visited the three campuses, talking to more than 70 students about the CDFI industry.

Here’s what OFN, HBCU-CDAC, and one student Lunch and Learn attendee had to say about the initiative:

“The ultimate goal of the HBCU-CDAC in this initiative is to introduce a results-oriented engagement process whereby untapped talent from participating HBCUs will meet new opportunities in community development finance and overall community economic development via our partnership with Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) and its network of community development finance institutions (CDFIs).” Ron Butler, CEO, HBCU Community Development Action Coalition

“The partnership with OFN has afforded us all an opportunity to share with a new generation of young adults the passion, reward, and potential life-changing outcomes resulting from community economic development industry.  An added bonus for me was visiting the campuses and engaging directly with very well prepared students who were eager to learn about career and other opportunities.” Henry Golatt, COO, HBCU Community Development Action Coalition

“Our schools don’t usually get this kind of information regarding alternative careers.  The other bigger schools get it, but we don’t! Thank you for bringing this information to us.” Student Participant, Benedict College

“I am excited to bring my relationships and years of experience from higher education to the CDFI industry to diversify our talent pool and to identify partnerships to strengthen community development in communities of color. We are looking forward to including local and regional CDFIs into this work very soon.” Annie Holmes, SVP Equity, Inclusion & Human Capital, OFN

OFN was introduced to the HBCU Coalition through BB&T when we were discussing our interest in building a diversity pipeline for the industry. We have discovered a great network of HBCU alumnae in the CDFI community that are interested in engaging their schools to educate students and faculty about the industry.” Beth Lipson, EVP, Strategic Initiatives, OFN

For more information about the OFN/HBCU-CDAC partnership, please contact Annie Holmes, SVP, Inclusion & Human Capital, OFN.