Puerto Rico is a CDFI Territory
Since 2018, Inclusiv has been leading efforts with local partner Asociación de Ejecutivos de Cooperativas de Puerto (ASEC) to strengthen the financial cooperative system in Puerto Rico and amplify its critical role in helping communities recover from natural disasters that have impacted, and continue to impact, the island.
In June 2020, Inclusiv announced the expansion of its initiative on the island to provide hands-on support for 36 financial cooperatives to prepare and submit applications for CDFI certification. The expansion of the program was possible thanks to the generous support of Prudential Financial and Citi.
In June 2020, only 12 financial cooperatives on the island were CDFI certified. After a lengthy campaign about the benefits of CDFI certification and individual outreach, 36 cooperativas were selected to participate in the initiative. By the first week of June 2021, 17 had received their CDFI certification; 19 are still pending a decision by the CDFI Fund. An additional 11 have applied for certification, motivated by the campaign. As of today, there are 30 CDFI cooperativas and federal credit unions in Puerto Rico. By the end of the third quarter of 2021, we expect the number of CDFI certified financial cooperatives to reach 60.
Just three years ago, there were none.
"The expansion of the Puerto Rico CDFI Initiative and the CDFI stimulus funding is a gamechanger. The CDFI Rapid Response Program (RRP) and COVID -19 recovery funds will serve as a catalyst for new community development initiatives and provide new
economic opportunities and hope for our people," said Eddie W. Alicea Sáez, President of the Board of Directors of the Asociación de Ejecutivos de Cooperativas.
The flurry of new certifications due to the expansion of the Puerto Rico CDFI Initiative has been providential for low-income people and communities on the island. In December of last year, Congress approved the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, assigning a historic $3 billion in funding for CDFIs. Financial cooperatives that were CDFI certified were eligible for the stimulus funding, including participation in the RRP. Through RRP, the CDFI Fund provided awards to support, prepare for, and respond to the economic impact of the pandemic. The average grant per credit union was expected to exceed $1.2 million. This potentially meant $50 million in new funding for community development initiatives and programs for Puerto Rico.