We welcomed friends from allied nonprofits, financial institutions, academia, government, and beyond, to join us at the 2018 Community Investment Awards reception on May 17. From the halls of Instituto Cervantes, guests dined, networked, and celebrated with us as we honored work to expand access to small business capital.

Woodstock’s Board Chair George Lipsitz welcomed our guests, and Board Development Chair Eva Brown thanked our sponsors. Woodstock President Dory Rand introduced the honorees who were recognized for their work to expand access to small business capital. They are Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), and Richard Cordray.

OFN leads Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to ensure that low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities can access affordable, responsible financial products and services—notably, small business capital. Beth Lipson, Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, accepted on behalf of OFN.

CNI is a CDFI on Chicago’s South Side doing work to revitalize underserved neighborhoods, such as Pullman, Bronzeville, and Englewood, by bringing in jobs and amenities. CNI offers mortgage, small business, and commercial loans.  CNI’s Micro Finance Group helps entrepreneurs with asset building, financial planning, loans for startups, and assists citizens returning from prison to become entrepreneurs. Erica King, Vice President of Lending, accepted on behalf of CNI.

Richard Cordray, was recognized for his achievements as the former—and first—Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). While Mr. Cordray was unable to attend, as he currently campaigning in Ohio, he wrote his acceptance (on behalf of all his colleagues at the CFPB) in a letter addressed to Dory, where he notes:

“At the CFPB, as you know, we were working hard on the project, required by Congress, to create a new database of small business lending akin to the HMDA database for mortgage lending.  …  First, we recognized that a more organized and comprehensive set of information on small business lending would allow us all to better understand the patterns of such lending.  That would enable us to know better where such lending is occurring or not occurring, in order to direct and guide public policy about where government officials and nonprofits could better supplement and fill in the gaps in small business lending by the private sector.  Second, we could see that a database of this kind would help us know better whether and how small business lending was marked by any of the discrimination that we have seen in the mortgage markets, and to pinpoint efforts to root out such discrimination.  Third, by making this data public, we believed it could help lenders themselves understand their local markets better and figure out where they could plug gaps by finding underserved markets and making capital available where it was lacking.”

Read Richard Cordray’s 2018 Letter to Dory Rand at Woodstock Institute

Finally, Senior Vice President of Policy and Communications Brent Adams recognized Ms. Tara Williams and the Illinois Currency Exchange Coalition. Ms. Tara, a hard-working Chicago mother of four who has relied on currency exchanges to cash child-support checks to pay for her disabled son’s medication, was instrumental in this year’s advocacy for more equitable check-cashing rates and rate-setting policies.  Her voice, amplified in the media and present at the negotiating table, helped successfully secure a lower rate schedule than the industry initially proposed. Ms. Tara inspired the Check Cashing Fairness Act, which will require the state to consider the impact on consumers and protected classes before the industry can secure any future rate increase. Read more about this campaign. 

Proceeds from the Community Investment Awards will ensure Woodstock can update our Data Portal, maintain our Technical Assistance program, and bring back the Community Lending Fact Book. Our generous event sponsors are: Advocates Inc. D.C., Ltd., Citi, U.S. Bank, BMO Harris, First Midwest Bank, Wintrust Bank, Northern Trust, PNC, First Eagle Bank, Marquette Bank, Huntington National Bank, and Old Second National Bank. Further support for Woodstock’s general operating comes from The Big Cat Foundation, Capital One, CIBC, The Chicago Community Trust, Fifth Third Bank, The Harris Family Foundation, Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust, J.P. Morgan Chase, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, VantageScore Solutions, L.L.C., and Woods Fund of Chicago. Without their support, we could not offer these resources to the public free-of-charge. Food for the evening was provided by La Justicia, and beer was donated by Revolution Brewing. Olga Lopez photographed the event. Her photographs are available to view via our Flickr.

President Dory Rand presents CNI’s Erica King with Woodstock Institute’s 2018 Community Investment Award for expanding access to small business capital

Communications and Development Associate Jenna Severson, Ms. Tara Williams of the Currency Exchange Coalition, and Senior VP of Policy and Communications Brent Adams

Woodstock Institute’s 2018 Community Investment Awards Reception

Research Associate Jason Olson, Research Director Lauren Nolan, and Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce’s William Hoover

CCLF and CNI enjoying Woodstock Institute’s 2018 Community Investment Awards

OFN’s Beth Lipson accepting Woodstock Institute’s 2018 Community Investment Award for expanding access to small business capital.

Woodstock Board Development Chair Eva Brown presents Woodstock Institute’s 2018 Community Investment Awards

Administrative Director Patricia Woods-Hessing and Office Manager Beverly Berryhill

Woodstock Board Members Tommy FitzGibbon, Gordon Mayer, and Natalie Abatemarco