Democratizing Finance: Origins of the Community Development Financial Institutions Movement

FriesenPress
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Decades before Occupy Wall Street challenged the American financial system, activists began organizing alternatives to provide capital to “unbankable” communities and the poor. With roots in the civil rights, anti-poverty, and other progressive movements, they brought little training in finance. They formed nonprofit loan funds, credit unions, and even a new bank—organizations that by 1992 became known as “community development financial institutions,” or CDFIs.

By melding their vision with that of President Clinton, CDFIs grew from church basements and kitchen tables to number more than 1,000 institutions with billions of dollars of capital. They have helped transform community development by providing credit and financial services across the United States, from inner cities to Native American reservations.

Democratizing Finance traces the roots of community development finance over two centuries, a history that runs from Benjamin Franklin, through an ill-starred bank for African American veterans of the Civil War, the birth of the credit union movement, and the War on Poverty. Drawn from hundreds of interviews with CDFI leaders, presidential archives, and congressional testimony, Democratizing Finance provides an insider view of an extraordinary public policy success. Democratizing Finance is a unique resource for practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and social investors.
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About the author

Clifford Rosenthal cofounded and for two decades served in the leadership of the CDFI movement. As president of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and later as the first director of the Office of Financial Empowerment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he devoted his career to bringing financial services to low-income and minority communities. His first career was as a Russian historian and translator.
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Additional Information

Publisher
FriesenPress
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Published on
Nov 7, 2018
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Pages
556
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ISBN
9781525536649
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Banks & Banking
History / United States / 20th Century
Social Science / Social Classes & Economic Disparity
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2002
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Over the next five years, organizers established a strong presence in numerous low-income, racially diverse urban neighborhoods in Chicago, Cleveland, Newark, and Boston, as well as other cities. Rejecting the strategies of the old left and labor movement and inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, activists sought to combine a number of single issues into a broader, more powerful coalition. Organizers never limited themselves to today's simple dichotomies of race vs. class or of identity politics vs. economic inequality. They actively synthesized emerging identity politics with class and coalition politics and with a drive for a more participatory welfare state, treating these diverse political approaches as inextricably intertwined. While common wisdom holds that the New Left rejected all state involvement as cooptative at best, Jennifer Frost traces the ways in which New Left and community activists did in fact put forward a prescriptive, even visionary, alternative to the welfare state.
After Students for a Democratic Society and its community organizing unit, the Economic Research and Action Project, disbanded, New Left and community participants went on to apply their strategies and goals to the welfare rights, women’s liberation, and the antiwar movements. In her study of activism before the age of identity politics, Frost has given us the first full-fledged history of what was arguably the most innovative community organizing campaign in post-war American history.
Building on the lessons of early labor leaders, civil rights volunteers, and political activists, Jim Diers has developed his own models and successful strategies for community development. Neighbor Power chronicles his involvement with Seattle�s communities. This book not only gives hope that participatory democracy is possible, but it offers practical applications and invaluable lessons for ordinary, caring citizens who want to make a difference. It also provides government officials with inspiring stories and proven programs to help them embrace citizen activists as true partners.

Diers�s experience is extensive. He began as a community organizer in 1976, then moved on to help establish and staff a system of consumer-elected medical center councils. This led him to Seattle city government, where he served under three mayors as the first director of the Department of Neighborhoods, recognized as the national leader in such efforts.

In the 1990s, Jim Diers helped Seattle neighborhoods face challenges ranging from gang violence to urban growth. The Neighborhood Matching Fund grew to support over 400 community self-help projects each year while a community-driven planning process involved 30,000 people. Diers provides evidence that productive community life is thriving, not just in Seattle, Washington, but in towns and cities across the globe. Both practical and inspiring, Neighbor Power offers real-life examples of how to build active, creative neighborhoods and enjoy the rich results of community empowerment.

The "Latino vote" has become a mantra in political media, as journalists, pundits, and social scientists regularly weigh in on Latinos' loyalty to the Democratic Party and the significance of their electoral participation. But how and why did Latinos' liberal orientation take hold? What has this political inclination meant—and how has it unfolded—over time?

In Latinos and the Liberal City, Eduardo Contreras addresses these questions, offering a bold, textured, and inclusive interpretation of the nature and character of Latino politics in America's shifting social and cultural landscape. Contreras argues that Latinos' political life and aspirations have been marked by diversity and contestation yet consistently influenced by the ideologies of liberalism and latinidad: while the principles of activist government, social reform, freedom, and progress sustained liberalism, latinidad came to rest on promoting unity and commonality among Latinos.

Contreras centers this compelling narrative on San Francisco—America's liberal city par excellence—examining the role of its Latino communities in local politics from the 1930s to the 1970s. By the early twentieth century, San Francisco's residents of Latin American ancestry traced their heritage to nations including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, and Peru. These communities formed part of the New Deal coalition, defended workers' rights with gusto, and joined the crusade for racial equality decades before the 1960s. In the mid- to late postwar era, Latinos expanded claims for recognition and inclusion while participating in movements and campaigns for socioeconomic advancement, female autonomy, gay liberation, and rent control. Latinos and the Liberal City makes clear that the local public sphere nurtured Latinos' political subjectivities and that their politicization contributed to the vibrancy of San Francisco's political culture.

An instant New York Times bestseller, named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Amazon, and Entertainment Weekly, among others, this celebrated account of a young African-American man who escaped Newark, NJ, to attend Yale, but still faced the dangers of the streets when he returned is, “nuanced and shattering” (People) and “mesmeric” (The New York Times Book Review).

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, trying to fit in at Yale, and at home on breaks.

A compelling and honest portrait of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and the slums of Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all this “fresh, compelling” (The Washington Post) story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and “a haunting American tragedy for our times” (Entertainment Weekly).
The New York Times bestseller
A New York Times Notable and Critics’ Top Book of 2016
Longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
One of NPR's 10 Best Books Of 2016 Faced Tough Topics Head On
NPR's Book Concierge Guide To 2016’s Great Reads
San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2016: 100 recommended books
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2016
Globe & Mail 100 Best of 2016

“Formidable and truth-dealing . . . necessary.” —The New York Times

“This eye-opening investigation into our country’s entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant.” —O Magazine

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The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. They were alternately known as “waste people,” “offals,” “rubbish,” “lazy lubbers,” and “crackers.” By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called “clay eaters” and “sandhillers,” known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds.
 
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We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well.
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