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  • Posted on: September 1st, 2023

    Community First Fund to Participate in House Democratic Policy Committee Hearing

    LANCASTER, PA – Representatives from Community First Fund will be joining other community leaders to discuss Community Development and Financial Institutions at a PA House Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Friday, September 8.

    Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El from the 49th District in Lancaster is hosting the hearing on Community Development and Financial Institutions at Thaddeus Stevens College at 1pm.  The hearing will feature three panels, with the second featuring Community First Fund panelists: Jonathan Encarnacion, Community First Fund Board Member and Alba Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Director of Lending.

    Jonathan and Alba will be joined in the hearing by Jose Lopez, CEO of the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA), Marlyn Barbosa, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SACA, and Jamie Arroyo, Executive Director of Assets.

    The hearing is open to the public.  Testimony from the hearing will be posted to pahouse.com/policycommittee/hearingmaterials.

    About Community First Fund

    Community First Fund is a private, independent non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to provide capital in places where it is not usually available. We seek to create positive change in the community by providing entrepreneurs, commercial real estate and affordable housing developers as well as nonprofits with access to loans for projects that generate jobs, create housing opportunities, essential community facilities, and that help to revitalize communities. www.communityfirstfund.org.

  • Posted on: June 13th, 2023

    Community First Fund named FHLBank Pittsburgh’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Membership Award Recipient

    LANCASTER, PA – Community First Fund has been selected as the recipient of the 2023 Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh’s (FHLBank) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Membership Award.  Community First Fund will be recognized at FHLBank’s member event in Philadelphia on June 26.

    The award celebrates FHLBank member financial institutions that have implemented or supported impactful, innovative diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives or programs in their communities.  Being selected for this award also serves to inform and inspire other financial institutions to enhance their commitments to DEI work in their communities.

    FHLBank selected Community First Fund for its community impact across eastern Pennsylvania through its Economic Justice Fund Program.  Community First Fund is committed to creating inclusive and vibrant communities that increases economic prosperity for everyone.  Its Economic Justice Fund Program, created in 2020, reflects Community First Fund’s mission and commitment to serving People of Color, women, immigrants, and low-income individuals and communities.

    The Economic Justice Fund Program coupled with Community First Fund’s technical assistance programs closes the opportunity gap for small business owners and entrepreneurs to start, grow, and expand their businesses, create jobs, advance economic mobility and increase financial stability in their community.  The program supports minority business owners whose business serve and are located in a disadvantaged community.

    Community First Fund is grateful for the recognition from FHLBank and is committed to advancing its work uplifting diversity while building wealth and financial equity.

    About Community First Fund

    Community First Fund is a private, independent non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to provide capital in places where it is not usually available. We seek to create positive change in the community by providing entrepreneurs, commercial real estate and affordable housing developers as well as nonprofits with access to loans for projects that generate jobs, create housing opportunities, essential community facilities, and that help to revitalize communities. www.communityfirstfund.org.

    About FHLBank Pittsburgh

    FHLBank Pittsburgh provides reliable funding and liquidity to its member financial institutions, which include commercial and savings banks, community development financial institutions, credit unions and insurance companies in Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. FHLBank products and resources help support community lending, housing and economic development. As one of 11 Federal Home Loan Banks established by Congress, FHLBank has been an integral and reliable part of the financial system since 1932. Learn more by visiting www.fhlb-pgh.com.

    You can read FHLBank Pittsburgh’s announcement here.

  • Posted on: May 17th, 2023

    $750,000 Loan Closing for Suit Company Inc.

    Philadelphia – Angel Rosario, Director of Community Lending, Lancaster, joins representatives from Suit Corner LLC, to close a $750,000 loan to refinance a loan from a predatory lender.  The refinanced real estate loan and business lines of credit will be critical in helping Suit Corner LLC achieve its revised business plan and continue to serve its community.

    Suit Corner is a Philadelphia urban men’s clothing store on Market Street in Center City Philadelphia near Penn’s Landing, Olde City, Society Hill, Independence Mall, and the National Museum of American Jewish History. Suit Corner sells men’s fashion and employs a full-time tailor to help clients get their orders quickly. The business has been open for over 60 years.

    The business initially started as a manufacturing business that made Rooster (brand) ties and shipped them to department stores all over the northeast.  The business grew to include three stores
    next to each other. In March 2014, three generations of the family business came tumbling down. The famed Shirt Corner at 3rd and Market Street collapsed during a controlled demolition. A month later, tragedy struck again when the family’s sister business, the Suit Corner, was set ablaze. By May 2014, the business had reopened a block down the street and continued to succeed.

    In June 2020, more than six years after the fire, the business re-opened at their original
    location. Gone is the corner building in favor of a smaller, modern storefront at 302 Market Street, known simply as the Shirt Corner again.

  • Posted on: May 8th, 2023

    Community First Fund Hosts Community Leaders to Discuss Importance of CDFIs

    Community First Fund President and CEO, Daniel Betancourt, and Senior Vice President for Development and Impact, Lydia Walker, with fellow PA CDFI Network member organization, Assets, and its CEO, Jamie Arroyo, hosted community leaders and members from the PA CDFI network for a walking tour of Lancaster city.  Community members included: Senator Ryan Aument and his staff, representatives from Representative Mike Sturla’s office, and representatives from Senator Scott Martin’s office.

    While touring, the group discussed the importance of CDFIs and our transformational capital to create vibrancy in our downtowns.  The tour stopped at several clients including both Assets and Community First Fund clients.  Attendees could see firsthand the importance of access to capital for entrepreneurs to start and grow small businesses.

    Additionally, the group spoke on the impact of the state’s COVID relief efforts and how it supported businesses throughout the pandemic.  CDFIs like Community First Fund were at the forefront of advocating for and distributing funding to keep small businesses in operation.  In the aftermath of the pandemic, CDFIs are still fighting for small business support.

    Community First Fund is grateful for the opportunity to work with public figures to continue to find ways to make a difference in our communities.

  • Posted on: April 28th, 2023

    $2 Million Loan Closing for Mazzoni Center

    Philadelphia – Ilya Golubtsov, VP, Community Lender, Philadelphia joined representatives from the Mazzoni Center to close a $1.5 million term loan and $500,000 line of credit to support two facilities totaling $2 million.

    The Mazzoni Center provides comprehensive health and wellness services in a LGBTQ+ focused environment, while preserving the dignity and improving the quality of life of the individuals served.

    Founded in 1979, the Mazzoni Center was established two years before the HIV/AIDS epidemic was first recognized.  For the better part of two decades, responding to the AIDS epidemic was the organization’s primary concern.  The Mazzoni Center is the oldest HIV service provider in the state.

    Though this continues to be a core pieces of its mission, the Mazzoni Center provides services to all members of the LGBTQ+ community.


  • Posted on: April 25th, 2023

    Community First Fund Joins CDFI Network to Advocate for Small Business Funding for Pandemic and Inflation Relief

    Harrisburg, PA – Community First Fund joined other leaders from the Pennsylvania Community Development Financial Institutions Network (PA CDFI Network) at the State Capitol to ask legislators to include $120 million in this year’s state budget to create a loan fund and grant program to support small businesses still struggling from the impact of the pandemic and inflation.

    PA CDFI Network’s request, would create a $100 million loan fund to be managed by members of the PA CDFI Network.  An additional $20 million would create grants to organizations like Community First Fund to provide free business counseling and technical assistance for small businesses.

    “We’re asking for another $20 million to support mom-and-pop businesses across the state,” said Daniel Betancourt, President and CEO, Community First Fund.  Dan also serves as the chair of the PA CDFI Network.

    Full coverage of the press conference can be found here.

  • Posted on: April 24th, 2023

    Community First Fund Recognized as Community Partner of the Year – SCORE – Lancaster/Lebanon Chapter

    Community First Fund was recognized as the Lancaster/Lebanon SCORE Chapter’s Community Partner of the Year.  Our Central PA Lending Team, Dan Beck, VP, Community Lender Team Leader, Central PA, Angel Rosario, Director of Community Lending, Lancaster, and Oscar Orozco, Senior Community Lender Lancaster, were recognized at the annual Small Business Awards Luncheon.

    “Dan has been a long-standing supporter of SCORE Lancaster/Lebanon and our small business clients, providing financial guidance and support to help them launch and grow their businesses,” said Cathy Bonser, Chapter Chair.  “Thank you, Dan and the Community First Fund team for the help that you provide our mentors help their business entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.”

    Dan shared that Community First Fund’s partnership with SCORE started more than 13 years ago, when he met with members of SCORE to find a way to build a partnership to help small businesses in Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

    Community First Fund was the final award of SCORE’s annual event where they also recognized 5 small business clients for their outstanding success.

    Community First Fund is grateful for this recognition and we are proud of the work of our lending team and community partners in helping business entrepreneurs pursue their dreams.

  • Posted on: March 3rd, 2023

    President and CEO Daniel Betancourt appointed Chair of Federal Reserve Board Community Advisory Council

    Lancaster, PA – The Federal Reserve Board announced the appointment of Daniel Betancourt, President and CEO of Community First Fund, as the Chair of the Federal Reserve Board’s Community Advisory Council (CAC).  Betancourt was appointed to the CAC in 2020 and most recently served as the council’s Vice Chair.  The board also selected four new members to serve three-year terms.

    Since its inception in 2015, the CAC continues to bring together diverse perspectives on the economic circumstances and financial services needs of consumers and communities, with a particular focus on the concerns of low- and moderate-income populations.  Members of the CAC include experts and representatives of consumer, workforce, and community development organizations.

    Betancourt has served as President and CEO of Community First Fund since 1999.  Under his leadership, Community First Fund has grown into a revered regional Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), attracting multi-million-dollar investments with nearly $230 million under management.  In 2022, Community First Fund launched its federally chartered credit union for which Betancourt also serves as President and CEO.

    With more than 30 years of experience in small business and economic development lending, Betancourt’s leadership extends beyond the Community First Fund Family of Companies.  He is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s President’s Council.  He serves on the board of directors for the Expanding Black Business Credit Initiative, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Impact Services of Philadelphia, and Elizabethtown College.  As Chair of the Pennsylvania CDFI Network, Betancourt’s leadership was instrumental in the development of the COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance program.

    You can read the Federal Reserve’s press release about the announcement here.

  • Posted on: August 25th, 2022

    Community First Fund Receives $2.25 Million Grant From Truist Foundation

    Philadelphia, PA – Truist Foundation today announced a $2.25 million commitment to Community First Fund, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), dedicated to aligning capital with social justice for low-income communities and low-wealth individuals. The grant will help launch Community First Fund’s Economic Justice Fund (EJFund) that will support lending activities to Black and Latine entrepreneurs across Community First Fund’s service footprint in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, including in the greater Philadelphia region.

    Truist Chairman and CEO, Bill Rogers and President of Truist Foundation, Lynette Bell joined Community First Fund’s Senior Executive Vice President, Joan M. Brodhead, Chair, Board of Directors, Jonathan Bowser, and Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Dragan Dodik, to formally announce the grant and discuss the future of Community First Fund’s EJFund. Community First Fund is embarking on a campaign to grow this fund to $50 million over the next five years.

    “The Truist Foundation supports intermediaries which provide capital at favorable rates and terms for small business owners and individuals in historically excluded communities,” said Lynette Bell. “The work of Community First Fund provides essential financial and technical assistance to help diverse entrepreneurs scale their businesses across Greater Philadelphia.”

    The $2.25 million grant is part of Truist’s recent $120 million commitment to strengthen and support small businesses nationally, with a focus on women and diverse business owners. Community First Fund’s work to create financial equity through wealth building opportunities for individuals, families, and business owners, especially Black and Latine individuals, women, and immigrants embodies Truist’s commitment to these communities.

    The work of Community First Fund is centered around creating sustainable prosperity for low-wealth communities and individuals by providing loans and investments to small businesses, and real estate financing to non-profit developers and entrepreneurs for commercial and affordable housing projects.

    “The Truist Foundation grant of $2.25 million helps us close the opportunity gap for small business owners and entrepreneurs to start, grow and expand their businesses, create jobs, advance economic mobility and increase financial stability in their community,” said Community First Fund President and CEO, Daniel Betancourt.

    Truist’s commitment to Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia region goes beyond its partnership with Community First Fund; Truist contributed over half a million dollars in grants while its employees completed 4,434 volunteer hours in the Philadelphia region in 2021.

    “This grant and partnership with Community First Fund underscores our commitment to supporting entrepreneurs throughout Pennsylvania,” said Travis Rhodes, Delaware Valley and Lehigh Valley regional president for Truist. “Small businesses are the bedrock of Philadelphia’s economy, and the work of Community First Fund is creating opportunities for more individuals while supporting employees, families and neighborhoods throughout the greater Philadelphia region.”


    About Truist Foundation

    The Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. The Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses. Learn more at Truist.com/Purpose/Truist-Foundation.

    About Community First Fund

    Community First Fund is a private, independent non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to provide capital in places where it is not usually available. We seek to create positive change in the community by providing entrepreneurs, commercial real estate and affordable housing developers as well as nonprofits with access to loans for projects that generate jobs, create housing opportunities, essential community facilities, and that help to revitalize communities. www.communityfirstfund.org

    download this release here
  • Posted on: May 10th, 2021

    Wells Fargo Announces $8.35 Million in New Relief Aid to Help Pennsylvania Small Businesses Impacted by Covid-19 and Civil Unrest

    Philadelphia (April 29, 2021) – Wells Fargo has selected Community First Fund, The Enterprise Center, Entrepreneur Works, The Reinvestment Fund, and Women’s Opportunity Resource Center  to receive grants from its Open for Business Fund (OFB), a nationwide small business recovery effort. The $8.35 million in new funding to these organizations will help underserved small businesses stay open, preserve jobs through short- and long-term COVID-19 resiliency efforts, and support businesses impacted by the civil unrest that took place last summer. The grants were announced today at a small business roundtable in Philadelphia hosted by Wells Fargo and The Hill.

    With this announcement, Wells Fargo has committed a total of $10.85 million in 2021 to organizations serving small businesses in Pennsylvania, with the majority of funding going to organizations that serve small businesses in the City of Philadelphia.

    Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund is as an approximately $420 million small business recovery effort across the U.S. to help entrepreneurs recover and rebuild. The initiative focuses on increasing access to capital, technical expertise, and long-term resiliency programs especially for racially and ethnically diverse small business owners who have been hard hit by COVID-19. Through March 31, the fund is already projected to reach 22,000 small businesses helping entrepreneurs keep roughly 66,000 jobs.

    “Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund is another avenue of support and enlists the expertise of our CDFI partners to urgently help diverse entrepreneurs recover and preserve the jobs they provide in their communities,” said Stephen Briggs, vice president of Social Impact and Sustainability. “The funding will provide much needed access to capital with increased equity in resources and technical assistance for local businesses who are the backbone of our local economies and neighborhoods.”

    “We are incredibly fortunate to receive this generous donation from Wells Fargo, which will allow us to provide small businesses in our region with much-needed financing to help them recover and rebuild,” said Daniel Betancourt, President and CEO of Community First Fund. “This partnership with Wells Fargo will drive our efforts to support local entrepreneurs and help our communities bounce back from the pandemic.”

    Community First will be using the award from Wells Fargo to launch their new “Rebuilding Communities Loan Fund”. This program will initially target existing small business clients that incurred losses during the pandemic. These struggling entrepreneurs will now have access to low cost capital to rebuild their businesses. Lending efforts will be focused on businesses that add to the vibrancy of their communities such as restaurants, retail stores, childcare centers, barbershops/salons, grocery stores, and bodegas.

    “We at The Enterprise Center believe in leading equitable economic growth by investing in minority entrepreneurs and distressed communities,” said Ian Lawrence, Senior Director at The Enterprise Center. “Thanks to Wells Fargo’s generous support, we will create a new model for community development that is grounded in our existing commercial corridor revitalization strategy, igniting further investment in Black and brown business owners.”

    “We are delighted to partner with Wells Fargo to invest in our local small businesses, who have been especially hard hit this past year by COVID-19 and the economic crisis that ensued,” said Leslie Benoliel, president and CEO of Entrepreneur Works. “We are grateful for this award, which provides funding for Entrepreneur Works to launch a new flexible, low-cost financial product that small businesses can use to jumpstart their businesses as the economy rebounds. This new opportunity strengthens our commitment to channel more resources to struggling neighborhood businesses and drive a more equitable economic recovery in the Philadelphia region.”

    Entrepreneur Works is using the Wells Fargo Open for Business grant award to launch a new financial product that small businesses can use to jumpstart their businesses as the economy recovers. This new loan product, called the “Rebound Loan”, will provide low cost, flexible capital to small businesses for costs associated with reopening and rebuilding, and to refinance high interest debt incurred because of COVID-19.  Half the loan will be forgiven upon the borrower’s meeting certain repayment and reporting conditions, thus giving the business owner the opportunity to increase equity in their business and enhance longer term sustainability. Entrepreneur Works will prioritize providing capital to Black-owned businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

    “We applaud Wells Fargo for its partnership with CDFIs to support small businesses as they recover and stabilize,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO of Reinvestment Fund. “For Reinvestment Fund, this award will be critical to extending the reach of stabilization programs in Philadelphia and New Jersey that are supporting businesses and nonprofits providing early care and education, food assistance, and food retail to communities in need. Many of these businesses are owned by women and/or people of color and these funds will help these entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses and provide much needed essential goods and services to their communities.”

    “It’s an honor for the Women’s Opportunities Resource Center (WORC) to be selected to partner with Wells Fargo in its Open for Business Initiative,” says Lynne Cutler, Founder and President of WORC. “This funding enables us to provide direct grants and low-cost loans to help Philadelphia area businesses recover from the pandemic and address some of the social and economic disparities that they have experienced.”

    # # #

    About Community First Fund

    Community First Fund is certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) serving the low-income communities of central and eastern Pennsylvania. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization provides loan capital to businesses, real estate developers, and community support organizations throughout the region. Since 1992, Community First has made more than 5,600 loans, grants and investments totaling over $355 million to businesses, affordable housing and community-based developers, and community-based programs and initiatives. To learn more about Community First Fund visit www.communityfirstfund.org.

     About The Enterprise Center

    The Enterprise Center has a rich and diverse practice supporting minority entrepreneurs and under-resourced communities spanning more than three decades. Clients and partners trust The

    Enterprise Center to advise and deliver on transformative economic development connected to minority business growth cycles and community wealth-building initiatives. Learn more about The Enterprise Center here.

    About Entrepreneur Works

    Entrepreneur Works is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating pathways of opportunity for talented, yet underserved entrepreneurs. Across the Philadelphia region, Entrepreneur Works’ clients start and grow small businesses, create jobs for themselves and their communities, and strengthen the local economy. Entrepreneur Works offers access to affordable loans, business training, and one-on-one guidance to hundreds of entrepreneurs each year, empowering small business owners from all walks of life to prosper and build sustainable communities. As a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Entrepreneur Works offers up to $50,000 in flexible lending capital to entrepreneurs, who are ineligible for traditional financing, so that they can launch or expand their businesses, while providing them with the opportunity to build personal and business wealth. Since 1998, Entrepreneur Works has served more than 6,000 clients, advanced 488 loans, and invested more than $2.1 million into neighborhood businesses. Over 80% of Entrepreneur Works’ clients identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) (primarily African American), over 66% reside in low to moderate income (LMI) households, and over 60% are women. Visit www.myentrepreneurworks.org to learn more.

     About the Reinvestment Fund

    Reinvestment Fund is a mission-driven financial institution committed to making communities work for all people. We bring financial and analytical tools to partnerships that work to ensure that everyone has access to essential opportunities: affordable places to live, access to nutritious food and health care, schools where their children can flourish, and strong, local businesses that support jobs. We use data to understand markets, communities, and impediments to opportunity—and how investment and policy decisions can have the most powerful impact. Since our inception in 1985, Reinvestment Fund has provided over $2.4 billion in financing to strengthen neighborhoods, scale social enterprises, and build resilient communities. Learn more at reinvestment.com.

    About the Women’s Opportunity Resource Center

    Founded in 1993, Women’s Opportunities Resource Center (WORC) promotes social and economic self-sufficiency for disadvantaged individuals—primarily women—through self-employment training, savings programs, and access to business and financial resources. WORC’s innovative self-help strategies empower individuals to permanently break out of the cycle of dependency, in turn combating entrenched poverty in underserved communities.

    WORC is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and an SBA Microlender. WORC won the 2001 Presidential Award for Excellence in Microenterprise Development – Poverty Alleviation, and the 2019 Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Small Business Development. WORC’s subsidiary, the Economic Opportunities Fund (EOF), is also a certified CDFI that provides financial services to low-income underserved populations with a focus on women, African-Americans, and immigrants/refugees in the 5-County Greater Philadelphia area.

    For over 25 years, WORC has enabled low-income families to achieve financial self-sufficiency. We are the only agency in the region to focus on building not just income but assets & wealth. We achieve this by integrating programs in three major areas -business lending, self-employment training & incentive saving into an overall asset-building approach. Since our founding we have distributed nearly 1,000 business loans totaling over $6 million for business startup, expansion, or commercial real estate acquisition; trained close to 4,000 low-income, underemployed, dislocated, and mature workers how to start and run a business; and enabled over 1,600 families to save $3.5 million and receive match of $3.4 million toward purchase of first home, education, or business launch. In spring of 2020 WORC was approved as an administrator of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, through which it has already disbursed 82 loans totaling $962K enabling microenterprises to sustain themselves through the COVID-19 crisis. 

    About Wells Fargo

    Wells Fargo is a community-based financial services company. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,200 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs and the internet (wellsfargo.com). Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.