Community First began operations in 1993 as a citizen-led organization devoted to alleviating poverty in the District of Columbia. Our goal was to improve access to loans and capital for entrepreneurs and residents, with a focus on distressed and redeveloping neighborhoods in the city. From our first meeting in a church basement, the organization has evolved through several successful stages and our work is now carried on by successor organizations.
Community First raised $9.4 million in capital to help found City First Bank of DC in 1998, which now operates as a mission-based community development bank. It is open for business and accepting deposits and making loans. You can find the bank at 1432 U Street NW, Washington DC 20009; 202-243-7100 or www.cityfirstbank.com.
Community First also partnered with area banks, the US Small Business Administration, and Virginia Asset Finance Corporation to operate the SBA's "504 Loan" Program in the District of Columbia. That program is one of the best examples of a partnership between a local nonprofit, the federal government and private banks. Together we help entrepreneurs tap the power of the Wall Street for making socially-responsible investments in our city. In the course of five years, Community First approved over $30 million worth of business projects for entrepreneurs (not speculators) who would operate real businesses in the buildings they purchased and renovated. Today, our portfolio is managed by the Business Finance Group which can be reached at 1001 5th Street SE, Washington DC 20003; 202-675-4912 or 703-352-0504; www.businessfinancegroup.org. BFG is also available to take new loans and is known as one of the top 504 lenders in the country.
On behalf of our founder and past Chairman John Hamilton, I'd like to say thanks to the many volunteers, foundations, corporations and individual donors who have supported Community First. Come back and visit for news of what's next on the horizon.
Tim Walter President email: Info at communityfirst.org