Frank Altman

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2013
Community Reinvestment Fund


This profile was prepared when Frank Altman was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
A true bridge-builder between the financial mainstream and CDFIs, Frank has pioneered a number of policy changes and industry norms that reduce risk and increase the attractiveness of investments for private capital. Through Community Reinvestment Fund USA, the 501c3 he founded in 1988, Frank created the first secondary market for community development loans; was instrumental in the creation of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), and successfully lobbied Congress to pass it into law through the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000; and most recently, introduced the idea of creating Community Development Bond Guarantees as a new source of long-term capital for CDFIs, which passed Congress in 2010 and is currently under consideration by the US Department of the Treasury.

Since 1988, CRF USA has funded more than $1.47 billion in loans to small businesses and affordable housing in low-income communities in 47 states and the District of Columbia; created or retained 69,000 jobs; and directly reached more than 610,000 low-income people. It is also one of the largest recipients of NMTC allocations in the country at $749.5 million. Since 2000, NMTCs have brought in more than $36 billion of capital to CDFIs across the US.

Through these significant financial innovations Frank is transforming the way mainstream financial systems can interact with and invest in low-income communities. One of his main contributions to the field has been as a visionary—one who challenges others to think big and to begin to knock down the barriers that keep money from flowing into low-income communities across the country.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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