Chime Nonprofit Communications (CNC) Blog

by Sheila Schat

13 June 2011

Community Development Finance Conference in Atlanta

I'll be attending the National Federation of Community Development Credit Union's ("the Federation") annual conference this week in Atlanta. This is a gathering of some of the most creative and passionate community development finance professionals in the country - all dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable financial products to help low-income, low-wealth communities join the economic mainstream.

Cliff Rosenthal, the founder and former president of the Federation, recently joined the Consumer Financial Protection Protection Bureau, as the Assistant Director of the Office of Financial Empowerment. Cliff's new position highlights the importance of affordable and fair consumer finance in the national dialogue. At the conference, we will celebrate his tireless work at the helm of the the Federation.

While the conference focuses on creating fair financial products for low-income consumers, it also has a workshop thread devoted to the importance of storytelling in fund development and social media. If you're not able to attend the conference, the Federation posts its workshop presentations on its website after the conference concludes. Make a note in your calendar to check them out next week and I'll post a few links here when they're available.

08 December 2011

CDFI 2012 Funding Round is Open!

OK, so the anticipated early release of the 2012 CDFI funding round did not materialize! But if you haven't already heard, the U.S. Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) released the FY 2012 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) and now the race is on. The deadline for applications is January 11, 2012 at midnight (EST).

The FY 2012 NOFA includes funding for CORE and SECA Financial Awards, CORE and SECA Technical Assistance and Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Awards. The $123 million available funds includes $25 million for HFFI Financial Awards.

If you've never applied for a CDFI award, it is a complex application that requires a lot of time and strategy to produce a competitive application. Happily there is plenty of information online to assist you in the process. For application and instruction information, please visit the CDFI Fund's web site at Credit unions and related loan funds can also access detailed information through the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The Federation offers expert technical assistance through CU Breakthrough Consulting Services (full disclosure - I am currently working as a CDFI consultant for the Federation). For more information about the Federation, please visit

I'll leave you with one tip I've learned over the years: Plan to upload your complete application package early as the site can be slow or even crash close to the deadline and you will be out of luck if you miss the deadline, even for reasons beyond your control. Happy writing!

09 August 2011

Big Pay Offs for CDFIs: The Department of Treasury Offers Grants for CDFIs

Chime Nonprofit Communications (CNC) often works with low-income designated community development credit unions that are also certified (or emerging) CDFIs (community development financial institutions). CDFIs are best known for creating effective opportunities for financial empowerment for the diverse, low income communities they serve - they are more commonly known as nonprofit loan funds or credit unions. CDFIs offer affordable mortgage, consumer, and microenterprise lending, as well as development services including financial education and free tax assistance. They have an impressive impact in their communities, which is why the CDFI Fund (Department of Treasury) supports their work.

The Department of Treasury's CDFI Fund publishes a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) each fall and announces awardees approximately nine months later. While the grant application is demanding, competitive, and extremely time consuming, the pay off is big! This year the largest awards were $1.5 million. In past years, the largest awards were as high as $2 million!

In July, the CDFI Fund announced $142.3 million in financial awards to certified CDFIs serving economically distressed communities nationwide. One of CNC's clients, Fairfax County Federal Credit Union, won a $1.5 million grant to provide affordable mortgages to its hard-hit, low income community. CNC has submitted $4.25 million in successful CDFI proposals in the past several years and will be preparing CDFI applications again for the upcoming 2012 round.

The new CDFI NOFA is expected to be released as early as the end of August 2011. If you are interested in applying or becoming certified, please don't hesitate to contact me and start preparing your application now. You can also follow the links below for more information about the CDFI Fund and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, the national organization that provides CDFI certification and application expertise to community development credit unions nationwide.

16 June 2011

National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions Annual Conference

I am in Hollywood, CA attending the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions annual conference. This is always an inspiring conference and a chance to catch up with all the community development work occurring in underbanked communities. In preparation for the upcoming round Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) NOFA (as early as August), I will be involved with the CDFI Track of the conference. I am co-presenting on the Thursday, June 16 workshop (at 2pm) CDFI Track workshop, "Program Overview, Certification & Application: What You Need to Know." Contact me if you have any questions about the CDFI application process. I have one comment about the CDFI application before I leave for Hollywood: Get started now!
Sheila Schat
is a partner of
Chime Interactive
and manages
its nonprofit
communications division.
Sheila brings a keen sense of storytelling and communications strategy to all aspects of her work. Prior to joining Chime Interactive, Schat worked for ten years for Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, a leading community development credit union, where she developed collaborative and innovative asset building programs for underserved communities and a triple bottom line organizational commitment with effective measurement tools. Under her leadership, the organization received over $6 million in financial awards, a record in its 34-year history. She also worked for ten years as a Program Manager for the Life Balance Institute in Marin County, CA.


"I hired Sheila to write content for Optimal Solutions Consulting's new web site and was extremely pleased with the quality of her writing and the experience of working with her. Sheila is a thoughtful, strategic thinker who immediately understood the nuances of my business and was able to write a high-impact narrative. Sheila is skilled at shaping content and identifying key concepts, and she is a top-notch writer."
Nicole Young, Principal