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BBVA Compass, Opportunity Finance Network kick off program to cultivate next generation of CDFI leaders

BBVA Compass and Opportunity Finance Network are putting out the call to dedicated leaders at community development financial institutions and inviting them to apply to the Opportunity Fellows Program, their joint initiative to boost the CDFI industry’s leadership ranks and spur greater access to capital in under-resourced communities.

CDFIs are critical engines of opportunity in low-income communities, and this is the second year that BBVA Compass and OFN, the leading membership organization for CDFIs, have joined forces to help cultivate the next generation of leaders and prepare them to influence and reshape their organizations and the industry. In 2017, the inaugural class of Opportunity Fellows was given nine months of training with experts in leadership development and diversity, inclusion and equity — all designed to better support their organizations’ efforts to deliver responsible, affordable lending to low-income, low-wealth, and other underserved communities, especially communities of color.

Watch the video for a recap of the 2017 Opportunity Fellows Program, its goals and how it is transforming the lives of the participants.

Ocañas: The importance of CDFIs cannot be overstated, and we must step up and give their leaders the tools and skills they need to thrive in today’s ever-changing world

“We’re carrying forward the Opportunity Fellows Program for 2018 because the importance of CDFIs cannot be overstated, and we must step up and give their leaders the tools and skills they need to thrive in today’s ever-changing world,” said BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and Reputation Reymundo Ocañas. “Last year’s inaugural class came ready to learn and challenge the status quo and share their experiences, and we expect to round up an equally compelling group of leaders for 2018.”

As part of their last session, the 2017 Opportunity Fellows visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the 16th Street Church, scene of a bombing that killed four girls in 1963 and marked a critical turning point in the civil rights movement.

The application deadline has been extended to Feb. 26. Nationally recognized experts in the field of community development will then choose approximately 25 CDFI leaders, including emerging, mid-career and executive-level professionals, and those invited to participate will be announced in March. The 2018 Opportunity Fellows Program will then commence in May for the first of two training sessions in BBVA Compass’ headquarters city of Birmingham, Ala. The second training session is slated for September 2018, and the participants’ final stop for the program will be the OFN Conference in Chicago in October.

During the sessions, participants will engage in interactive activities and experiences, and will learn from leaders in community development finance as well as Birmingham community leaders to understand how to facilitate organizational change that promotes greater diversity and inclusion within their CDFIs as they pursue more equitable investment in communities. To develop the agenda and curriculum, OFN is partnering with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business and the Race Matters Institute.

The 2017 Opportunity Fellows closed out the program's inaugural season in BBVA Compass' headquarters city of Birmingham, Ala., in October.

This is at its core a leadership program,” said Donna Fabiani, Executive Vice President, Knowledge Sharing at OFN. “Participants in this program will hone their leadership skills as they look at their own organizations and develop frameworks and processes for promoting more equitable investment in underserved communities across the country.”

Those interested in applying to become a 2018 Opportunity Fellow should click here.

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