Persistent poverty affects about 1 in 7 rural counties, and more than a quarter of the Native American and Alaska Native population lives in poverty, more than double the share in the general population. Legacies of racism, disinvestment, displacement, and resource extraction continue to prevent both rural and Native American communities from accessing the capital needed to promote opportunity and economic well-being via their cultural, economic, and geographic diversity.

Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) strive to fill this gap as local advocates for underserved communities. The Partners for Rural Transformation (PRT), six rural-serving CDFIs spanning America’s diverse rural populations, have committed to lifting rural and Native communities from persistent poverty toward sustainable economic opportunity.

PRT’s successes, outlined in an Urban Institute report, show that a common goal—to increase opportunity in these richly diverse communities—works, and leveraging regional assets can help stakeholders make the most of their investments.

At a recent event, PRT members spoke to these successes, describing how their organizations meet their communities’ specific needs, how structural racism affects their progress, and what the federal government could do to invest in and support their communities’ economic potential and perpetuate growth and opportunity.

CDFIs serving Native communities can follow examples set by two PRT members, the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) and the Native-led and Native-governed Oweesta Corporation, and help their communities flourish by acknowledging the history of disinvestment, addressing persistent knowledge gaps, and rethinking how funding reaches and is distributed in these communities.

Read the full article about CDFIs in Indigenous communities by Alex Tammaro at Urban Institute.