A national nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with a mission to empower people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities through innovative financial solutions.

The Organization

Founded in 1988, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) focuses on job creation and community revitalization by providing ethical financing and advisory services to small businesses that lack access to capital from traditional financial institutions. During the past 30 years, CRF has provided more than $2.4 billion in loans, investments, and bonds that have helped create or retain 82,000 jobs and financed more than 19,000 affordable housing units, as well as numerous health care clinics, schools, childcare centers, and community facilities nationally.

The Challenge

Small businesses are responsible for the creation of the majority of jobs in Chicago – 58 percent city-wide and an estimated 70 percent in low-to-moderate-income and minority communities. Yet, as documented by the Woodstock Institute and many others, it is precisely in under-resourced communities that jobs and financial capital are most needed and least available.

The Solution

CRF meets this challenge by providing small businesses with loans that traditional lenders often avoid because of the perceived risk. Since its entry into the region, CRF has made more than $8.7 million in loans to Chicago-area small businesses, leading to the creation or retention of more than 220 jobs. The identified gap in funding indicates an existing landscape where CDFIs can play an important role in expanding lending efforts in Chicago-area communities. With access to the patient and long-term financing provided by Benefit Chicago, CRF can redirect capital into small-scale and locally directed initiatives to support job creation and investment in local communities.

The Impact

The $1.5 million loan from Benefit Chicago will be used by CRF to make small-business loans to minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses that fall outside traditional Small Business Administration guidelines. CRF will focus on the South Shore, Lawndale, and Maywood communities.


Frank Altman President and CEO of CRF, USA
“In partnership with local small business support organizations, we continue to find ways to fill funding gaps in the city’s under-resourced neighborhoods which, the $1.5 million from Benefit Chicago will help us address.”