CDFI + Heart = RDF

CDFI + Heart = RDF

Going into my internship with RDF’s Communications Department, I only knew what I had been told from my grandfather about RDF. Raza Development Fund has provided capital to Latino-serving organizations nationwide. They aim at breaking the cycle of poverty in low-income communities across the country.

That being said, I knew very little about the meaning of CDFIs and their purpose, so I decided to ask some members of the Senior team at RDF to provide me with some insight. 

“Raza Development Fund is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with the mission of serving Latino and Poor families through financing community projects such as education facilities, health clinics and affordable housing throughout the country. The difference between RDF and other CDFIs is the faith-based approach of financing projects respecting the dignity of every person,” shared Tom Espinoza, President and CEO of RDF.

The pillars of RDF are Saint Pope Paul the II, Saint Mother Teresa and the Virgin of Guadalupe. These three powerful saints are what helped shape RDF into what the organization is today.

“Mission-driven Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are in a unique position to provide essential front-line financial support and technical assistance to low-income communities that are oftentimes systemically overlooked by traditional financial services companies,” shared David Clower, Chief Investment Officer at RDF.  

The industry has consistently demonstrated its commitment to serving the poor by ‘stepping up’ and finding innovative ways to ensure affordable access to life changing financial products and services at scale.  As our country struggles to navigate its complex, socio-economic challenges, which are made even more difficult by an unfolding financial crisis, the role of CDFIs has never been more critical to the overall health of local and national economies,” he shared.

The focus of CDFIs in serving poor communities across the country has been very challenging recently due to the economic crisis created by COVID-19. These organizations are working even harder to support underserved communities. 

“The value of CDFIs is in our mission to serve and invest in low-income communities across the nation, which over time has proven that you can do good and well,” shared Melissa McDonald, Chief Operating Officer at RDF.

 

“I believe that the beauty of CDFIs is that, when you stay in mission, you can help to create projects like building schools, health clinics and affordable housing to benefit the neediest communities and your organization can do good as well,” she said.   

CDFIs are private financial organizations that focus primarily on different types of loans, from personal to business development efforts in poor local communities in the US. They are a great option to provide capital to non-profit organizations, community groups or small business owners and entrepreneurs that have limited opportunities in traditional banks.   

RDF during the last 20 years has become the largest national Latino CDFI, building assets of more than $400 million. These organizations have received technical assistance and loans, which have helped nearly $3 billion in private capital for education, affordable housing and healthcare projects. 20 years of successful service could not be possible without the commitments of servant leadership of countless individuals that have impacted RDF and the communities we serve. 

 

James Feild, Chairman of the RDF Board of Directors, captured perfectly in just one phrase the essence of Raza Development Fund: “RDF is a lender with a heart.”  

Now that I’ve been working for RDF for a few months, I can see one of the reasons the company is so successful is because the people who make up the company care not only about the community but about each other. It is a team effort, and they truly pour their hearts into everything they do. 

I am grateful to be a part of a company that I grew up hearing about. It is exciting to understand what RDF is really about and to learn as much as I can from a talented group of people. I can honestly say from experience that RDF genuinely is “a lender with a heart”. 

 

Ariana Ortiz

Ariana Ortiz is a junior at Seton Catholic Preparatory High School. As an intern in the Communications department, she is looking forward to improving her writing and public speaking skills as she is considering a possible career in journalism.

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