New CRA Resources for the New Year

January 27, 2015

Do you know your local bank’s CRA rating, or where to go to find it? Could you write a performance context for your bank’s next CRA exam? Most of us in the community development field are familiar with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) broadly, but the San Francisco Fed now offers resources for those who are interested in digging a little deeper into the CRA.

CRA Ratings Search Tool

We’ve created a new CRA Ratings Search Tool to help you quickly and easily locate CRA evaluations for state member banks regulated by the SF Fed. Beyond the ratings themselves, the performance evaluations (PE) contain valuable information about an institution’s CRA activities and assessment areas. The search tool allows you to filter by bank size and geography and directly links users to a bank’s two most recent PEs. Here are some of the ways we’ve heard different constituents make use of the PEs:

  • Bankers – A CRA officer shared that her team reads the PEs for peer banks in their markets to understand how the competition is faring and what kinds of CRA activities they are engaging in.
  • Nonprofits – One nonprofit mentioned scanning various PEs in their geographic footprint to see if there were banks that were struggling with CRA that might be actively looking for opportunities to partner with nonprofit organizations serving low-income communities.

Community Development Data Guidebook

The Community Development Data Guidebook is meant to serve as a “how to” for those interested in conducting more robust community development research. This type of community-based research, often termed performance context in the regulatory world, is critical to bankers looking to make impactful investments and loans pursuant to Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requirements. It is equally critical to community development practitioners looking to maximize impact in the areas in which they operate. In the first part of the guide, we provide a variety of data resources, divided by topic area, along with a practical application of how to retrieve the data and commentary on what to do when you have it. In the second part of the guide, we include an example of how different data pieces can come together to produce a strong performance context.

Understanding Community Development Needs through the CRA Performance Context

This new working paper attempts to demystify the performance context and establish its strategic value to the CRA process. A truly responsive and innovative CRA program should begin with the “performance context,” or knowledge about the bank’s local markets, including the needs of the community as well as the opportunities that exist within the local network of resources and organizations. The paper explores new opportunities for strengthening the performance context as a community development tool, from the perspective of both bankers and regulators.

To learn more, visit our CRA page or listen to Understanding Community Development Needs through the Performance Context a Connecting Communities webinar held December 11, 2014.

The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Federal Reserve System.