When I tell new acquaintances that I work in “community development,” I
sometimes secretly hope that the conversation will end there. I’ve worked
on my elevator speech over the years, and can offer a decent description
of our work in twenty seconds, but it’s awfully challenging to be succinct.
How can you be succinct and still capture all the richness of this field? How to explain that it’s a combination of finance, public policy, and community organizing? Or that our constituents include everything from governments to financial institutions to community groups? Or that the issues we work on range from poverty alleviation to bank compliance to education to structured finance?
Every now and again, someone who is especially curious (or unusually patient) will have survived a more thorough version of my explanation of what community development is, and will ask “OK, I get what community development is, but what exactly do you DO?” This, too, is not an easy story to tell. The Federal Reserve’s role in the community development field is a blend of research, data analysis, publications, conference planning, meeting facilitation, technical assistance, and training.
One of the themes that ties these seemingly disparate offerings together is collaboration. The Federal Reserve’s Community Development function provides a forum for community stakeholders – bankers, governments, community organizations – to collaborate, or more simply, work together. In this issue of Community Investments, we highlight some of the complex issues facing the field, including such vexing problems as banking the unbanked,
providing mortgage credit in Indian Country, and preventing foreclosures. For each of these issues, we also highlight the Fed’s efforts to keep our constituents informed on the issues, and our role as the convener of community stakeholders, all with the ultimate goal of helping people collaborate to solve problems.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Community Investments, and as always, we would love to hear from you with feedback and ideas.