This fund ensures long-term economic growth with investments in projects and institutions that create sustainable neighborhood change. 

The Organization

The NCIF Credit Strategies Fund (CSF) is a special purpose financing vehicle formed by the Chicago-based Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and impact investor National Community Investment Fund (NCIF). Founded in 1996, NCIF’s mission is to increase the availability of responsible financial products and services in underserved markets nationally, generating superior financial performance and social and environmental impact. NCIF is the largest investor in CDFI and minority banks and achieves its mission via three complementary strategies – equity investing in banks, lending with the CDFIs, and the deployment of New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations along with CDFIs and investors.

The goal of the CSF is to create a vehicle that enables impact investors to deploy loan and investment capital into geographic and programmatic areas of their choice. It will promote long-term economic growth in neighborhoods, including communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago, that have historically faced disinvestment. The CSF will use available programs like NMTC to help create sustainable place-based economic change in emerging communities.

Impact investors including foundations, CRA bank lenders, and high net worth individuals can utilize the CSF vehicle to identify and support causes and geographies in a cost-effective manner generating reasonable returns and diversified risk.

The Challenge

There is a disparity that exists across Chicago communities. Many neighborhoods face barriers to economic stability, wealth accumulation, and resident retention. For sustainable and equitable economic activity to take place, a comprehensive strategy is required to support the building blocks of a community, including healthcare facilities, access to education, quality housing, and local business activity. Assembling these elements takes a coordinated effort and can be bolstered by access to patient capital, a collaboration with market and nonprofit developers, and financing structures that allow communities to retain ownership of local assets.

The Solution

Through the creation of the CSF, NCIF has dedicated $25 million of NMTC to Chicago via its OneCity strategy and will lend $5 million into projects that generate comprehensive impact in these emerging neighborhoods. The fund supports high-impact projects that have a multiplier effect in areas that include Pullman, Bronzeville, and Washington Park in Chicago and other similar areas nationally. From acquiring and developing quality housing infrastructure to promoting local business owners, these projects all have the potential to reduce existing disparity and allow residents and businesses to grow independent wealth. CSF also works with other Chicago-based CDFI’s to align project pipelines that will generate the greatest cumulative impact.

The Impact

CSF will use the $5 million loan from Benefit Chicago to strategically support high-impact projects that increase access to employment, healthcare, education, and quality housing in targeted communities. These funds allow NCIF to pursue three kinds of impact (a) transactional impact via investments in projects that create jobs and services for the underserved (b) institutional impact, via working with its network of CDFIs and minority banks, and (c) demonstrative impact effects associated with the CSF fund that unlocks scaled debt capital.

More information about the NCIF Credit Strategies Fund can be found at

Saurabh Narain Photo

Saurabh Narain, President and CEO, NCIF
“There is a disparity that exists across Chicago communities, and many neighborhoods face barriers to economic stability, wealth accumulation, and resident retention. With Benefit Chicago’s support, the NCIF Credit Strategies Fund will strategically invest resources in Chicago’s underserved communities to address these needs.”