By Linda Ezuka | March 30, 2021 | 3 Minute Read

CRA Service Fundamentals

Remember the days when we were volunteering for nonprofit fundraising dinners or waking up early Saturday morning to participate in a community walk fundraiser? The pandemic has changed many of the ways we volunteer, but the core concepts of Community Reinvestment Act service provisions haven’t changed. Let’s recap the fundamentals.

I am sure you can recite the community development “hooks” in your sleep. If, however, you are new to CRA, print this out and keep it handy!  

Community Development Hooks
 
 
At the core, a CRA-qualified service is defined as having a primary purpose of community development, is related to the provision of financial services, is performed on behalf of the bank, has not been considered in the evaluation of the bank’s retail banking services, and benefits the bank’s assessment area or a broader statewide or regional area that includes the bank’s assessment area. 

So how does the bank deploy critically needed CRA services in a pandemic? 

Many banks are leveraging technology to deploy community development services during the pandemic with a focus on financial literacy. American Savings Bank, FSB deployed financial literacy via Zoom meetings to students at Title One Schools (schools with a majority of lower-income students as measured by free- and reduced lunch) that participated in the 2019 Bank for Education School Program. The Bank for Education program is an ongoing program with specific local schools to provide support through grant awards, financial literacy education, and volunteer projects. Due to the pandemic, the program wasn’t held, but American Savings Bank continued to deploy financial literacy services during the pandemic to the students who previously participated in their program. They are also gearing up to relaunch the program later this year. 
 
American Savings Bank, FSB also continued to offer Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) in partnership with two local nonprofit organizations. The program provides savings accounts to support matched savings for lower-income individuals to seed small business formation, first-time homeownership, and help individuals acquire a post-secondary education. For more information on individual development accounts, check out Prosperity Now’s overview of Individual Development Accounts.

Have you reviewed your bank’s involvement in the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) programs lately? Most banks utilize their regional FHLB for liquidity purposes (see this short overview of the FHLB system). The FHLB also offers Affordable Housing and Community Investment Programs that can bolster your bank’s CRA service initiatives and can drive community development impact. 

Want to learn more? 

Watch our free recorded webinar with Linda Ezuka from CRA Today, where we take a deeper dive into CRA services.

We will share the core principles of community development services from the basics to the most complex. Learn how to maximize CRA credit for community activities, how to use modern technology to collect qualified activities, and engage in programs like the Federal Home Loan Bank programs and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to take your CRA program to the next level!


None of Kadince, Inc., its affiliates or its to their respective employees, directors, officers and agents (collectively, “Kadince”) are responsible or liable for any content or information incorporated herein. Read full disclosure.

Linda Ezuka | Owner, CRA Today

With over 25 years of community development experience, with an emphasis in CRA, compliance, training, community development lending, and CDFI initiatives, Linda works with financial institutions to provide comprehensive CRA training, up-to-date resources, and proven strategies to remain compliant. She helps CRA professionals master the art of the CRA and transform communities through the power of economic development. To learn more about Linda & CRA Today, visit her website: www.cratoday.com


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