Community Investing and You

Co-op America and the Social Investment Forum Foundation
Reprinted with permission

Everyone can be a community investor. It’s easy. For example, did you know that your checking account could help low income families buy affordable homes? Did you know that your IRA could help create jobs in impoverished communities? Community investors have discovered that they can combine their banking and investing with their desire to help build healthy communities both here and abroad. Community investors are people who bank, save and invest in community development financial institutions or CDFIs. By putting their money into a community bank, credit union or other CDFIs, community investors are helping to:

  • Support affordable housing in low income areas
  • Finance locally owned, and minority owned, small businesses
  • Provide credit and financial services to poor, underserved communities
  • Support community organizations that provide vital social services such as health care
  • Provide education, mentoring and technical services in developing communities

It’s easy to become a community investor. All of your banking needs – from checking and savings accounts, to CDs and IRAs, to mortgages and other loans – can be met by a community bank, credit union or other community development financial institution. Most are federally insured and offer rates that are competitive with most conventional institutions.

Credit Unions

Credit unions work like banks except that they are organized and run by members instead of a corporation board. Membership benefits work like this: members build a cash reserve in the credit union by purchasing shares; from this financial base, money is then returned to fellow members in the form of low cost loans; as loans are repaid, the interest is used to pay dividends back to shareholders. This “investment cycle” stimulates the local economy, strengthens the credit union and benefits each individual member. An example of how the power of cooperatives can be used to effect change is Co-op America, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982. Co-op America provides economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to address today’s social and environmental problems. Learn more about them by visiting

Twin City Co-ops Federal Credit Union P.O. Box 130670 Roseville, MN 55113 Phone: 651-215-3500 or 800-331-8244 (outside Metro area) For a listing of additional credit unions in Minnesota, visit:

Mutual Funds with Community Investing Components

Mutual funds are a great way to invest for your retirement. What you may not know is that several socially responsible mutual funds devote a small portion of their assets toward building communities. Socially responsible funds screen out companies based on specific social and environmental criteria. Some common screens include tobacco, alcohol, weapons manufacturers and major polluters. There are also funds that screen in companies based on positive criteria such as excellent environmental policies and outstanding human relations. Several socially responsible funds devote up to 10 percent of their assets to community investing. With these funds, you can use your investment dollars to promote corporate responsibility and contribute to building low-income communities, while saving for your own retirement. These investments are not federally insured.

Calvert Group, Bethesda, MD (800)368-2748

Domini Social Equity Fund King of Prussia, PA (800)762-6814

Parnassus Investments San Francisco, CA (800)999-3505

Community Development Loan Funds Community Reinvestment Fund 821 Marquette Avenue Minnepolis, MN 55402 Frank Altman, President Phone: 612-338-3050

Midwest Minnesota CDC P.O. Box 623 Detroit Lakes, MN 56502 Arlen Kangas, President 218-847-3191

Northwest Minnesota Foundation 4225 Technology Drive, NW Bemidji, MN 56601-5118 Dave West, Executive Director 800-659-7859

The Initiative Fund 525 Florence Avenue Owatonna, MN 55060 Paula Rauschendorfer, Business Development Director 507-455-3215

Nonprofit Assistance Fund 2801 21st Avenue South, Suite 210 Minneapolis, MN 55407 Kate Barr, Executive Director 612-278-7180

International Funds

International Funds provide support for international community development including small loans and training to entrepreneurs, and financing for projects that promote jobs and economic development.

Nicaraguan Credit Alternatives Fund Madison, WI 608-257-7230

Opportunity International Oak Brook, IL 800-7-WEWILL

Shared Interest New York, NY 212-337-8547

SOSTENICA West Chester, PA 610-399-5228

Community Investing

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