One of the things that we have learned through our series of conferences on reinventing older communities is that community development crosses many fields – economics, art, and health, to name a few. In the Community Affairs Department at the Fed, we tend to look at the intersection of financial services and community development. But even within that narrow category there are many areas of impact, and this issue highlights very different examples. In one article, we discuss the opening of three new bank branches in low-income communities. The banks report profitability from deposits made by churches and businesses in the community or resulting from their own willingness to provide expanded services through Saturday hours or bilingual staff.
Another article describes how having access to savings accounts and building assets are essential to everyone’s lives. While it may seem impossible for low-income families to save, for the past 10 years CFED, a national nonprofit dedicated to expanding economic opportunity, has been demonstrating otherwise. CFED’s research shows that when low-income people are given the incentive to save through individual development accounts, they do so. CFED promotes national efforts to make asset building as successful for low-income families as it is for the rest of us.
And what about business growth and expansion as a means to wealth? Prospective business owners may be delighted to read our story on angel investors and a second one on SJF Ventures, a venture capital firm. Who are they? What types of businesses do angels want to invest in? How do you find one?
We have also included an article about the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Originally, we became interested in this subject because two Fed researchers wrote an article about how electronic payments allowed New Orleans residents, rich and poor, to access their money within days of the disaster. In the course of writing that paper, the authors referenced another study that described the health-care needs of victims of the disaster. While somewhat off track from the financial services that we typically discuss as community development, the article clearly reveals that without health care, the undoing of financial health is just one serious illness away.
Last but not least is our story on Pennsylvania’s revised Neighborhood Partnership Program. The Commonwealth, community development leaders, and corporate officers have worked together to revise a funding program that supports nonprofit community development efforts. The new changes, we hope, will mean that the banking and corporate world will use this tax credit program to provide nonprofits around the state with a new, consistent funding source.