• Identifying opportunities and strategies that

  • will strengthen the impact of diverse communities.



CDFIs are well positioned to align capital with social and economic justice. As the CDFI industry leader, OFN is committed to identifying opportunities and strategies that will strengthen the impact of diverse communities, beginning with communities of color.

We’ve recently launched a multi-dimensional effort to address the racial wealth gap, looking at systemic disenfranchisement, dis- and under-investment in communities of color and how CDFIs and other mission-driven lenders can help close this gap. Our works starts with racial equity because we believe in opportunity. For all.

OFN is leading racial equity work through partnerships with foundations, banks, racial and social justice experts, and others that will inform resources for CDFIs. For more information about partnering with OFN on equity initiatives or to learn more about equity at OFN, please contact Annie Holmes, Senior Vice President of Equity, Inclusion, and Human Capital.

Follow OFN’s Equity Work:

  • Get involved in the conversation on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.
  • Read our blog for regular updates, information, and insights into OFN’s and the industry’s equity focus.
  • Sign up to receive emails and updates.


Definitions and Advisory Committee


OFN uses Race Matters Institute's definitions:

Diversity refers to the wide array of differences among people and their perspectives on the world. Yet, a diverse organization is not necessarily an equitable organization.

Inclusion means the ability of diverse people to raise their perspectives authentically, and for those voices to matter and impact decisions. It usually refers to majority-group settings where the organizational culture has been enabled for that to happen.

Equity refers to the result of actions so that advantage and disadvantage are not distributed on the basis of race and ethnicity. Strategies that produce equity must be targeted to address the unequal needs, conditions, and positions of people and communities that are created by institutional and structural barriers. Equity requires a set of informed policies and practices that are intentionally designed to rectify disparities, as well as informed people positioned to implement them effectively.

Where equity exists, diversity and inclusion will also be present.

OFN Equity Advisory Committee

The purpose of the OFN Equity Advisory Committee is to provide external guidance and insight regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that will benefit the CDFI Industry through OFN’s leadership. Members of the Committee are:

Melissa Alvarez, Senior Learning and Outreach Manager, The Nature Conservancy

Amber Machamer (Tribal Affiliation: yak tityu tityu, Northern Chumash), Executive Director, Office of Planning and Analysis, UC Berkeley

Nonet Sykes, Director, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Jim Taylor, Vice President, Multicultural Affairs, AARP

Damon Williams, SVP, Program, Training, and Youth Development Services, Boys and Girls Club of America

Information and Resources

Below are selected resources. For a full working document of resources, please contact Annie Holmes, Senior Vice President of Equity, Inclusion, and Human Capital, OFN.

OFN's Equity Policy Annual Report Executive Summary

OFN's Equity Policy Annual Report Full Report (OFN Members only)

Race Matters Toolkit (Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Citi Leadership Racial Equity Working Group Toolkit (toolkit below)


Training Resources

Recruitment and Hiring Tips to Diversify Staff

  • Local community colleges
  • Include your diverse staff on your website and program flyers
  • Use a variety of intern placement programs (Americorp, New Sector Alliance, municipality youth programs, local colleges)
  • Networks of diverse groups such as chambers of commerce, faith-based groups, networking groups, your staff/board
  • Include the cultural competencies needed on the job description
  • Consider whether your process around background checks and credit checks are potentially leaving out qualified candidates
  • Consider providing the training needed for candidates to build a required skill set

Internal Organizational Preparation and Assessment

Consider the best method to pursue racial equity practices within the organization. Is it through a committee? Is it added to the job description of a staff position? Is it through a re-occurring agenda item on senior management meetings? Is it through board meetings? Is it through formal policies?

  • Create a Racial Equity organizational statement
  • OFN Examples:
  • OFN created a cross-level, cross-departmental and racially and ethnically diverse Equity Working Group to define what equity means for OFN.
  • OFN's Internal Policy on Equity
  • Position created: OFN SVP, Equity, Inclusion & Human Capital is responsible for leading diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives by working with OFN staff to embed equity into all products and services. SVP, Equity, Inclusion & Human Capital also serves as a resource to the CDFI industry to engage in diversity, equity and inclusion work.
  • Questions to Consider
  • Does your staff, board, advisory committees, and loan committees reflect the community you serve?
  • Who at the organization gets to make decisions? When and about what? 
  • Whose voices are the loudes in decision making and influencing?
  • Do decision makers make decisions using an equitable lens?
  • What are the reactions internally and externally to different people's participation (i.e. are voice included and respected?)
  • Do your clients have a voice at the table?
  • Are your open job positions reaching diverse audiences and backgrounds?
  • What language around race is used in your marketing materials?
  • Does your staff have the cultural competencies to work with diverse clients?
  • Have staff been trained around unconscious biases?
  • Do you manage your diverse workforce well? Do staff of all racial backgrounds feel supported and comfortable in your organization?
  • Are all levels of your organization diverse or just certain departments or levels?
  • Do funder convenants limit the impact you can have advancing racial equity by limiting risk?
  • Are you identifying other organizations working around the same issues? Are you collaborating with others in the community where it makes sense?
  • Assess the progress your organization is making every year:
  • Percentage of color in comparison to percentage of people of color in your region and percentage of clients of color
  • Assess changes in decision making and which voices are being heard
  • Determine the benefits to the CDFI's business model that may be helpful in encouraging internal stakeholders to take action:
  • CDFI Fund and other funder requirements around diverse representation on boards and decision making groups
  • Increased funding opportunities

Advancing Racial Equity Through Products and Services

  • Grantmaking With a Racial Equity Lens (can also apply to the impact of a CDFI's services through a racial lens)
  • Supporting a city or county’s racial equity and social justice strategic planning (e.g. King County)
  • Partnering with organizations who work with formerly incarcerated people, as this aligns with the mission of many CDFIs
  • Questions to consider:
    • Do you seek out and consider the community’s input and feedback when developing products and services?
    • Do you collect equity data about your clients?
    • Are your clients representative of the community you serve?
    • Are your products evening the playing field? (i.e. reaching those who cannot access the traditional financial market?)
    • Is your organization at the table when racial equity is being discussed in your community? Are concerns of the community known by your staff and board?

Learning Resources


Race: The Power of an Illusion

Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity; Mirrors of Priviledge: Making Whiteness Visible; The Way Home: Women in America Talk About Race; Light in the Shadows

13th on Netflix

Implicit Bias, Structual Racialization, and Disparate Outcomes, John Powell


Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?Nicholas Krisof, The New York Times

Nicholas Kristof on What ‘Whites Just Don’t Get’ about Racial Inequality, Emily Badger, Washington Post

Bringing Bias Into the Light, Dana Wilkie, Society for Human Resource Management, HR Magazine

Small Legacy Cities, Equity, and a Changing Economy, University of Pennsylvania School of Design and Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

As a Major U.S. Problem, Race Relations Sharply Rise, Gallup, Justin McCarthy  

Racial Bias, Even When We Have Good Intentions, Sendhil Mullainathan, The New York Times

The Case for ReparationsTa-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

Blogs, Websites, and Podcasts


Race Forward


Code Switch

HuffPo Black Voices

HuffPo Latino Voices


Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, Kevin Boyle

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Racism Without Racists, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide, Meizhu Lui, Barbara Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, Rose Brewer and Rebecca Adam 

When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America, Ira Katznelson

Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do ItShelly Tochluk

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black women in AmericaMelissa V. Harris-Perry

The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander

Teaching to Transgress, Bell Hooks

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in a Story about Race, Debby Irving

How Implicit Bias and Structural Racialization Can Move Us Toward Social and Personal Healing, by John A. Powell

Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice, Jessica Gordon Nembhard

A Good Time for the Truth: Race in MinnesotaEdited by Sun Yung Shin

Scholarly Articles

Decentering Whiteness, Jeff Hitchcock and Charley Flint

Racial Microagressions in Everyday Life

OFN Generated Content

Because Equity, text speech delivered by Mark Pinsky, then OFN president and CEO at OFN's 2014 Annual Conference

Because Equity Summary, panelist discussion summary from OFN's 2014 Annual Conference

Facts and Figures

OFN refers to two primary sources for information about the racial wealth gap in the U.S.:


Please check back for upcoming events. Or follow OFN on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for notifications of events.

For more information, contact Annie Holmes, Senior Vice President of Equity, Inclusion, and Human Capital, OFN.

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