Monday, November 28, 2011

CDFIs: Americans Investing in Americans

By Noelle St. Clair, Investor Relations Associate

Noelle St. Clair
I recently traveled to Minneapolis for the 2011 Opportunity Finance Network conference with Calvert Foundation Marketing Manager, Carrie Hutchison. Since Carrie and I have traveled together quite a bit lately, I know never to get between her and her Starbucks! To someone whose knowledge of caffeinated beverages is pretty much limited to plain coffee or tea, trying to decipher the intricate orders at Starbucks feels like a quasi-foreign experience for me. I did, however, stop into my local Starbucks before the trip to pick up my Create Jobs for USA wristband.

The proceeds from the sale of these wristbands will be donated to Opportunity Finance Network (OFN). Calvert Foundation is a proud member of OFN, the national network of Community Development Financial Institutions or “CDFIs.” Starbucks recognized the good work CDFIs have been doing, delivering affordable capital to low-income and disadvantaged communities around the country, but also realized that the average person has no idea what a CDFI is or what it does. Through the Create Jobs for USA campaign, Starbucks is not only providing funding to OFN and CDFIs, but also helping the industry to receive national recognition. By “buying” and wearing these wristbands, people across the nation are creating jobs for Americans, while simultaneously raising awareness of CDFIs.

Americans, including me, are often quick to complain about the problems in our country. When a solution to a problem becomes apparent, it is empowering to become part of that solution. This is one of the reasons I enjoy working at Calvert Foundation so much. Calvert Foundation is lending to more than 60 CDFIs that are creating jobs in America. More importantly, Calvert Foundation is funded by individual investors looking to become part of the solution to some of our country’s most pressing problems. Americans helping Americans, people investing in people – this is what Calvert Foundation does and this is what OFN and Starbucks are doing with the Create Jobs for USA campaign.

There was definitely a buzz at the OFN conference about the campaign and the partnership with Starbucks. Adam Brotman, VP of Digital Ventures for Starbucks, spoke at the conference, specifically about Starbucks’ commitment to communities and their efforts outside of the new campaign. Adam had an impressive list, including the fact that Starbucks has been an investor in the Calvert Foundation Community Investment Note for almost 10 years. We are appreciative of the support that Starbucks has given and continues to provide for organizations doing the type of work that we do. Personally, I was very impressed by Starbucks and although I don’t think I’ll ever have a VIP Gold discount card like my caffeinated friend Carrie, I just might have to stop in a bit more frequently for a Tall Soy Sugar Free Cinnamon Dolce Latte!

Learn more about CDFIs by watching this great video created by Citi Foundation and OFN!