Community Reinvestment Fund, USA and National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions Partner on a Business Lending Solution
Software facilitates origination process for both borrower and lender


Minneapolis, MN – (September 20, 2015) The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) announces a partnership with the Minneapolis-based Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) to provide a Small Business Administration (SBA)-compliant business lending solution beneficial to credit unions originating small SBA loans between $25,000 and $5,000,000. The software, developed by CRF, facilitates the origination process–from application to closing–for lender and borrower. Five credit unions, including Alternatives Federal Credit union, Lower East Side Peoples Credit Union, Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union, Case Credit Union and Dakota Plains Credit Union, are currently beta-testing the software in a credit union environment.

“The Federation is pleased to join forces with CRF, a fellow CDFI that is nationally recognized as a leading lender to small businesses, on this important initiative,” says Cathie Mahon, Federation President and CEO. “This collaboration marks a milestone for the community development finance field, harnessing the expertise, tools and technologies across diverse institutions to reach new populations, establish greater efficiencies, and increase investment in underserved communities.”

CRF is a community development financial institution (CDFI) whose mission to improve the lives of disadvantaged people and strengthen distressed communities through innovative finance is closely aligned with the Federation’s mission to help low-income people and communities achieve financial independence through credit unions. The Federation is a CDFI intermediary that advocates with the CDFI Fund on behalf of all credit unions.

“We are committed to helping our fellow CDFIs grow their small business lending by increasing their efficiency,” said Frank Altman, President and CEO of CRF. “We are excited to work with the Federation and its members to make that happen.”

CRF designed their software, named Spark, with a focus on the borrower, as well as the lender, experience. While many existing platforms target the lender as the customer, Spark integrates the borrower into the lending process every step of the way. The software also provides automated CDFI Fund reporting for closed loans, a feature that will be of particular interest to CDFI credit unions, plus facilitates the selling of the guaranteed portion of the loan on the secondary market.

The Spark platform uses data from multiple sources to grade the loan as the application is built, reducing processing time. To date, CRF has processed over 300 loans and has reduced the processing time on many applications by as much as 40 percent. At present the software supports SBA Small Loan Advantage, Community Advantage, International Trade and full SBA 7(a) loans and is slated to include SBA Express loans later this month.

Spark is a cloud-based platform that is secure, modular and configurable to adopt the look and feel of the lender’s website. Spark integrates with FICO, Equifax, Google Maps, MS Dynamics CRM, TRF PolicyMap and SBA’s E-TRAN Origination system.

The Federation received funding from CapitalOne and Citi Community Development to promote business lending in credit unions and to facilitate collaboration as a means of increasing scale and impact. Upon an extensive review of the SBA-compatible offerings in the marketplace, the Federation ultimately selected CRF as a partner because of their commitment to community development coupled with the strength of the platform, and the commitment CRF has made to developing a lasting partnership.

“As a mission-driven, SBA Preferred Lender, CRF can often provide financing when others can’t or won’t. Our SBA lending platform is an option credit unions interested in supporting their communities and creating jobs will want to explore,” says Nick Elders, VP of Technology Solutions and Services at CRF.

The Federation and CRF will preview the Spark business lending platform at the Federation’s Annual Conference in Phoenix, AZ on September 22. Register to attend the preview at

About Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF)
CRF, a national non-profit community development financial institution (CDFI), is a leader in bringing capital to underserved areas. Since 1988, CRF has injected more than $1.8 billion into low-income and economically disadvantaged communities around the country to provide affordable housing, help stimulate job creation and economic development, and support community facilities. For more information, visit

About the Federation
The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is a certified CDFI Intermediary representing more than 200 community development credit unions (CDCUs). The Federation’s member CDCUs provide credit, savings, transaction services and financial education to more than 4 million residents of low-income urban, rural and reservation-based communities across the US, and hold over $32.5 billion in community-controlled assets. Founded in 1974, the Federation is headquartered in Lower Manhattan with offices in Madison, WI. The Federation offers a wide range of advocacy, educational, training, investment, marketing, and outreach programs to support and assist CDCUs. For more information about the Federation and its programs, please visit

Media Contacts:
Joan Barnes
Director of Communications, CRF

Clarissa Ritter
Director of Marketing and Communications, Federation
212-809-1850, ext. 210


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