Convening thought leaders and solving challenging financial problems 

CIF actively engages key stakeholders and brings together thought leaders from the finance, government, U.S. non-profit, international NGO, and for-profit sectors to create smarter, more comprehensive solutions and strategies for communities defined by either geography or mission. Many of CIF’s applied projects are a direct result of these strategic convenings, facilitating the advancement of impact finance to reduce income inequality.  

Financial Innovations Roundtable 

Created in 2000, the Financial Innovations Roundtable is an action-driven, implementation focused initiative, comprised of highly respected financial leaders who work together to address specific financial issues and problems facing the field of community development. The Financial Innovations Roundtable (FIR) is not only a think tank, it is a “think-do” tank. Many of the ideas developed at the FIR have been implemented, resulting in new tools, policies and practices that have resulted in millions of dollars being directed into investments in affordable housing, small and minority businesses, community facilities and other community development efforts. The Financial Innovations Roundtable participants represent a powerful assemblage of finance professionals from a diverse range of institutions—including banks, credit unions, insurance companies, investment firms, public agencies, ratings agencies, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), foundations, pension funds, religious institutions, and universities. The full FIR group convenes annually to participate in work sessions to address a specific financial issue or problem and discuss possible solutions. Each year 1-2 projects are advanced by the FIR after the annual meeting. Since 2014, the FIR has been co-convened by the Center for Impact Finance at the Carsey School and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.

The 2015 Financial Innovations Roundtable was dedicated to improving access for CDFIs to small business lending technologies—an area of great promise for the industry. Several ideas arose that with appropriate levels of funding, we are poised to pursue:

  • Develop a community of practice for the various experiments that are underway in the field. There is very little coordination or sharing of information.
  • Convene a conversation among funders. Many funders are interested in how innovations in small business lending can be harnessed to better serve borrowers in underserved areas and enhance community and economic development. They are not, however, informed about the best ways to pursue this.
  • Promote and convene a forum so that for-profit lenders can more effectively share technology with mission-focused small business lenders.

This is just one example, from one recent meeting, on one topic, of the potential set of valuable activities that the Center for Impact Finance can galvanize.

Aligning Community Health with Investment Convenings

Expansion in coverage and a shift in payment models from volume to value in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is driving a fundamental transformation in the health care delivery system. Hospital leaders increasingly recognize the need to engage stakeholders who can help address social and physical conditions that contribute to poor health.  

This new reality has led to an increasing awareness of the substantial contributions of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in facilitating investment in areas ranging from improved housing to grocery stores, child care centers, and small business development.

At the same time, there is a need for more focused engagement that builds shared knowledge and facilitates the design of strategies that link health sector programs, services, and activities with community development investments in specific communities.  The Center has designed and delivered a series of regional convenings bringing together interdisciplinary teams from hospitals, CDFIs, and other community stakeholder groups to design strategies for promoting hospital investment in those communities.


Michael Swack 
Center for Impact Finance
(603) 862-3201