Amir Kirkwood’s Monthly Update – September 2022
Want to know what’s on our CEO’s mind this month? Find out below!
Partners and Friends,
As summer has wound down, we at VCCSE are at the start of a busy fall season. We kicked off the season with an All Staff Retreat in Richmond, VA on September 15th. It was such a joy to be with almost every member of our team in person! We started the afternoon with a session facilitated by our partners at Virginia Community Voice, Equitable Community Engagement and Decision-Making. The workshop opened us to a very candid and passionate conversation on how we as an organization can center our work even more on the communities and places where we lend and advise. That session provided the perfect framing for subsequent discussions around our strategic plan, organizational performance, DEI journey, and impact.
The fall is always an important time for our organization and for the field of community development finance. VCCSE is positioned to be a leader in the field of community development through the performance of our lending and advisory (VCC Bank, our loan fund, and LOCUS), our participation in industry events, and utilizing our voice on critical industry policy issues.
Our Role Looking Forward
As we are all aware, we are entering a cycle in our economy that has increased uncertainty and insecurity, especially in the economically excluded communities VCCSE seeks to support. A recent report by the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank examines how – even post-pandemic – there is a lower rate of labor force participation in our headquartered state of Virginia. The labor force participation rate further declines in rural and urban low- to moderate-income communities. Our work at VCCSE remains extremely important. With economic uncertainty affecting credit markets and ultimately our communities, we are proud of the commitment of all VCCSE teams – from those driving quality production to those servicing our customers.
We are looking forward to our upcoming Board Retreat in October – which also marks my one-year anniversary at VCCSE! This retreat will provide the Board an opportunity to reflect on the progress of the organization over the past year and engage in the critical work of planning, budgeting, and policy review for 2023.
Learning Exchange: More Than a Moment
Earlier today, VCCSE hosted our third virtual Learning Exchange event of the year. The Learning Exchange is an opportunity for VCCSE to host leaders in community development, impact investment, and policy to discuss critical issues that that drive equitable development. This virtual event, Centering Equity in Climate Finance, featured a panel of experts and our own Jim Baek, Executive Director of CIGP, who discussed some of the current initiatives to ensure an equitable approach to climate finance and where the opportunity to do more exists. Stay tuned for a link to the recorded event here.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund
As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, future opportunities are presented in the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). VCCSE staff have committed to work with CDFI industry leaders and peer organizations to identify how the sector can utilize some of the $125 billion in funds appropriated to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund under the IRA. That work starts with our participation in the National Green Bank Summit September 28-30th. A VCCSE team will attend this event in Washington D.C., where they will strive to gain a better understanding of the role VCCSE can play with green banks and share the benefit of our experience on projects we have financed through VCC Bank or the Community Investment Guarantee Pool (CIGP). Additionally, VCCSE will be participating in working groups organized by the Coalition for Green Capital to help advocate for financing approaches under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that are community-centered and place-based.
I look forward to sharing more with you in our October newsletter. If you’re heading to the OFN Conference October 18-21, look for us and say hello!
President & CEO
VCC Social Enterprises