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Corporate Responsibility Updated: 08 Sep 2018

BBVA Compass, Opportunity Finance Network join forces to cultivate new generation of leaders in affordable-lending space

BBVA Compass and Opportunity Finance Network are joining forces to cultivate the next generation of leaders for Community Development Financial Institutions, organizations that are critical engines of opportunity in low-income communities.

A photo of BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and Reputation Rey Ocañas speaking at the 2016 Opportunity Finance Conference on Oct. 25, 2016.

The Opportunity Fellows Program, which was announced Tuesday during OFN’s annual conference in Atlanta, is seen as vital to helping Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, continue to fulfill their work delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream.

“Through the Opportunity Fellows Program, CDFI leaders will learn how to create and implement transformational change and innovation in their communities,” said Pam Porter, Executive Vice President, Strategic Consulting for OFN. “Across the country, communities are faced with worsening economic inequality, especially in racial and ethnic minority communities. This program will equip CDFI leaders with the skills to lead change at their organizations and in the industry, and to facilitate greater equity and inclusion in their communities.”

The goals of the Opportunity Fellows Program are to help CDFI leaders develop the skills and perspective to:

  • Understand how to create transformational change and innovation toward the vision of opportunity for all.
  • Develop skills to analyze and facilitate equity and inclusion for racially and ethnically diverse communities.
  • Build the capacity of the Fellows to lead at their organizations, in their communities, and in the industry.

“BBVA Compass is invested in our communities,” said BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and Reputation Reymundo Ocañas. “The work CDFIs do in providing assistance to people in our communities is vital, so we are investing in human capital — in this instance to help nurture CDFI talent, and see that their good work continues, and transforms, just as their communities do.”

The program will be conducted in BBVA Compass’ headquarters city of Birmingham, Ala., and opens for applications in mid-November. It includes two 3-day sessions in March and September of 2017. A committee will choose approximately 25 CDFI leaders from the submitted applications that have a range of experience and background including executives, mid-level and emerging leaders.

During the sessions, participants will engage in interactive activities and experiences, and will learn from other leaders in microfinance. They will also spend time with Birmingham community leaders in racial equity to understand the patterns and causes behind the growing inequity in racial and ethnic minorities. To develop the agenda and curriculum, OFN is partnering with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Race Matters Institute and the BBVA Microfinance Foundation.

”The UAB Collat School of Business is proud to partner with Opportunity Finance Network and BBVA Compass on this important community project, helping develop leadership talent through the Opportunity Fellows Program,” said Eric P. Jack, dean of the Collat School of Business at UAB.

In 2014, BBVA Compass pledged $11 billion over five years in lending, investments and services toward supporting low- and moderate-income individuals and neighborhoods. Partnering with OFN to deliver the Opportunity Fellows Program is one way the bank is delivering on that commitment.