2017 Annual Report:
Letter from Kevin Walker

“Native CDFIs are engines of change, supporting investment and entrepreneurship in Indian Country. They’re really a best-kept secret, both inside and outside of Native communities.”

— Kevin Walker, President and CEO

NATIVE CDFIs, SEEDING SELF-DETERMINATION

CDFIs—community development financial institutions—offer a proven and successful model for providing loans, investment capital, and much more to underserved communities.

They offer financial services, education, and products that open up access to resources that help people grow businesses, create jobs, and build better opportunities to thrive on their own terms.

In Native communities, which have been working hard to gain fair and equitable access to banks and financial services, the role of these institutions is even more vital. Native CDFIs are dynamic and trusted partners for building assets and thriving economies in Indian Country. They are weavers, connecting families, communities, and entrepreneurs to the resources necessary to bring dreams to life for multiple generations. They are also led by people with strong community relationships and deep knowledge of their history, trusted intermediaries whose expertise has guided investments toward impressive returns that are uplifting economies anchored in Native culture.

We’ve made deep investments in Native CDFIs for the past five years, evolving from our commitment to target 40 percent of each year’s grant dollars to Native-led organizations. In this year’s annual report, you’ll read why we are committed to connecting Native CDFIs with the partners and networks necessary to prosper.

A profile on our grantee Native CDFI Network (NCN) helps make the work tangible. You’ll read how Native CDFIs are driving positive change in Native communities, and why NCN’s ability to support and amplify local efforts is so essential.

The stories in this report focus on our current and future work, and for that reason, we’ve called it our 2017 annual report. The financial information, however, reports on 2016, the most recent year for which our audited financials are complete.

We have proudly published an annual report every year since the 1950s, and that tradition continues. We have simply chosen to name the report for the current year as an indication that the story we’re sharing about Native CDFIs is current, urgent, and evolving. The Native CDFI field is still young. But it contains seeds of change that we are honored to nurture in whatever ways we can—through our grantmaking, of course, but also by lending our voice in lifting up the beauty and promise of Native CDFIs and how they open the door to the credit and capital for strong, self-determined communities.

Please view this report as the beginning of a dialogue I’m inviting you to join. You’ll be able to frequently engage with us on Native CDFIs over the next 12 months and beyond. In the 2018 annual report, I plan to follow up with you on what we learned and where else that learning will take us.

Sincerely,

Kevin Walker
President and CEO


Photography: Landscape photo by Hlee Lee; portrait of Kevin Walker by Uzoma Obasi