What is Community Development Financial Institutions certification?
The U. S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund designates organizations that provide financial services to low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing and that meet certain criteria as Community Development Financial Institutions.
Credit unions certified as CDFIs are eligible to apply for awards through a variety of competitive programs administered by the CDFI Fund. These awards enable CDFIs to finance a wide range of activities, including:
- Mortgage lending for first-time homebuyers,
- Flexible underwriting for community facilities, and
- Commercial loans for businesses in low-income areas.
The CDFI Fund’s website (opens new window) has more information about the agency, CDFI designation, and its various programs.
How would CDFI certification benefit my credit union?
If your credit union is certified as a CDFI, it can:
- Apply for funding through the CDFI Fund’s competitive CDFI Program and Native American CDFI Assistance Program, if applicable;
- Training and Technical Assistance opportunities sponsored by the CDFI Fund; and
- Funding from funders other than the CDFI Fund.
How do I apply?
There are two ways a credit union may seek CDFI certification:
- Streamlined CDFI Certification Application for Qualifying Low-Income-Designated Credit Unions: Under the streamlined process, NCUA performs an initial analysis on behalf of a potential applicant to reduce applicant burden. A low-income-designated credit union seeking certification submits its AIRES data on loan originations to NCUA. The agency then analyzes the data, the credit union’s products and services, its target market, and other indicators to determine its likelihood for certification. If a credit union is qualified to use this process, NCUA will provide it with a streamlined application form, its analysis, and other data needed for the application, which the credit union can then complete and submit to the CDFI Fund for a certification decision. You can get details and instructions in NCUA's Program Guide. To complete the program questionnaire, use NCUA's CyberGrants (opens new window) Portal.
- Standard CDFI Certification Application: If your credit union does not qualify for the streamlined application, we encourage you to use the guidance and application (opens new window) that are available on the CDFI Fund website.
How can I find more information?
- CDFI FAQ: FAQs for credit unions interested in becoming a CDFI.
- CDFI Fund Certification Video (opens new window): Guidance for credit unions using the standard application.
- Low-Income Designation Fact Sheet (opens new window): An overview of NCUA’s low-income designation process for credit unions.
- A Tale of Three Credit Unions (opens new window): Three credit unions explain their reasons for seeking to become CDFIs.