The Open Access Fellowship first launched in the Fall of 2021 as an initiative sponsored by professionals Gina Nisbeth of Citi Bank and Jeff Monge of Monge Capital. The initiative was created by advocates in the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) industry to increase diversity representation in community development finance. Our initiative focuses on increasing Black & Latinx representation within the community development companies that serve their communities. Our premise is that the community development industry concentrates much of its efforts in minority communities across America, yet within the industry there is gross underrepresentation by Black, Latinx and diverse professionals at all levels. Organizations working in these communities, therefore, may lack the proper cultural lens to understand how to best serve those communities.
Our objective is to increase the representation of diverse professionals at all levels, including (but not limited to) accounting, legal, finance, consultancy, and development. Our goal is to lead by example and exhibit best practices within an industry that is dedicated to improving the lives of under-resourced and underrepresented communities nationwide. We intend to train talent that will go on to serve communities that have been disproportionately affected by historical disenfranchisement for many years.
Our industry Focus
Our initiative is specifically focused on creating opportunities for minorities in the Community Development Finance Industry. Community development finance is a broad term encompassing the varied sources of funding that support stronger and more resilient communities around the country. Lending institutions promote new and established sources of community development finance for low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities by working closely with financial institutions, community development organizations, nonprofits, foundations, research and policy centers, and government agencies. Financing community development investments in LMI communities often requires a creative mix of public, private, and philanthropic resources.
While the community development finance industry often has as one of its core areas of focus servicing minority groups and people of color, these minority populations are often times not represented in the organizations that are made to serve them. The Open Access Fellowship is uniquely positioned to do something about that by giving those groups a voice and a seat at the table. This fellowship offers representatives of minority groups a seat at the table through hands-on learning experiences. The three month immersion experience creates an opportunity for professionals from diverse backgrounds to be exposed to the world of community development finance by being placed in an environment where they can receive tutelage and be trained to ultimately pursue career paths in this industry.