“NCN Live” is a new series of conversations with industry experts and policymakers designed to expand the power of Native CDFIs to grow economic opportunity for Native peoples.

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On February 23, 2023, “NCN Live” featured Rico Frias, Executive Director of NAFOA, founded as the Native American Finance Officers Association. Pilar Thomas, a Partner at Quarles & Brady, LLP also joined the call to discuss the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund program after the EPA announced the initial program design.

The conversation highlighted ways that Native CDFIs and tribes can collaborate to secure more funding for economic development in Indian Country. Speaking of the federal government’s relationship with Native CDFIs and tribal governments, Frias called for an end to competitive grants. All Native communities need funds to grow their economies, yet, the way funding is structured, tribes and Native-led organizations must compete against one another to get it. More flexible funding options would lead to more vibrant tribal economies. Speaking of the federal government’s relationship with Native CDFIs and tribal governments, Frias stated, “It’s so much better to talk with us than talk about us.”

On February 16, 2023, “NCN Live” featured Casey Lozar, Vice President, Director of Center for Indian Country Development! This conversation highlighted the background on CICD, their footprint and how all Native communities can benefit from CICD work, and the demand and outcome of their research on CDFIs.

Lozar stated, “Because of the data gaps there are myths and misconceptions about Indian Country that need to be corrected… More data will allow for better aggregate analysis and contribute to better policy-making.”

The Center for Indian Country Development is a research center focused on tribal economies housed at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. CICD supports the prosperity of Native nations and Indigenous communities through actionable data and research that make substantial contributions to public policy. CICD research has helped demonstrate the need for Native CDFI services and provided evidence for their impact. For example, CICD research has found that establishing Native CDFIs on or near reservations can improve credit outcomes. As another example, CICD just published results from the first systematic quantitative analysis of lending in the Native CDFI industry. Native CDFIs have community relationships that shape their services in important ways, and this study provides evidence that Native CDFIs’ use of character-based lending practices can reduce the risk of loan delinquency.

On February 9, 2023, “NCN Live” featured Noel Andrés Poyo, Treasury’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Economic Development (OCED). Native CDFI Network CEO & Chairman Pete Upton had an engaging conversation with Mr. Poyo discussing Treasury’s approach to Community Investment Policy. They addressed specific concerns related to a recent survey NCN released documenting the likely impacts the CDFI Fund’s proposed changes to the CDFI Certification Application and related regulations will have on Native CDFIs. Poyo fielded questions from Native CDFI leaders who were in attendance. NCN appreciates Mr. Poyo’s time and consideration!

Click here to view an article published by Tribal Business News about the conversation.

On February 2, 2023, “NCN Live” featured Lenwood V. Long, Sr., President/CEO of the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs, Pilar Thomas, Partner, Quarles & Brady, LLP, and Tina Poole Johnson, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow Center for Impact Finance, Carsey School, UNH. This conversation informed Native CDFIs leaders how to take advantage of the new program under The Inflation Reduction Act amended the Clean Air Act, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GHGRF). This first-of-its-kind program will provide competitive grants to mobilize financing and leverage private capital for clean energy and climate projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions – with an emphasis on projects that benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities. Also addressed was the need for Native CDFIs to band together with other CDFIs serving communities of color through the GHGRF Coalition to ensure that they get their fair share of the significant funding that will be available. Our speakers explained how to navigate the GHGRF application process, and how Native CDFIs can make their voices heard through the GHGRF Coalition.

NCN Members have access to video recordings on their membership accounts. Click here to log in!