The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was enacted in 1977 to set standards for financial institutions to meet the banking and credit needs of their underserved local communities and to help build individual and community assets.
The CRA guides and supports the field of community development and is a powerful way to unlock funds for infrastructure, affordable housing, healthcare, education, workforce development, micro and small business, and financial education — improving life opportunities for people in low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods and rural areas.
Since the last significant overhaul of the CRA in 1995, digitalization has driven profound changes in the economy and labor market. Access to the internet and digital tools and skills training are essential in today’s world — yet communities across the country are without access and are missing out on the benefits of digital technologies. These communities are disproportionately LMI neighborhoods, rural areas, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) — communities the CRA is designed to serve.
People need reliable, affordable high-speed internet access at home for participation in basic social and economic activities such as working remotely, running a business, accessing government services, telehealth, online banking, and access to education and workforce opportunities.
As such, the CRA must be updated and modernized to recognize and address the critical importance of digital equity for creating opportunities for upward mobility in these communities — and encourage investments that will bridge the gap between digital haves and have nots.
We welcome a recent joint proposal to modernize and strengthen CRA regulations issued by the bank regulatory agencies in the US — the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In the spirit of collaboration and in response to the agencies’ request for comments, we — a group of organizations and individuals committed to digital equity — have submitted recommendations to further strengthen the CRA so it encourages investment in digital equity and more effectively serves its purpose of strengthening communities and improving lives.
With thanks to this group of signatories who represent what is emerging in this country: the joining together of the fields of community development and broadband and digital inclusion — breaking down silos to meet the moment and create an inclusive digital economy.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Jordana Barton-Garcia, Senior Policy Fellow at Connect Humanity. The co-authors of the column are listed below.
Jordana Barton-Garcia, Senior Policy Fellow
Amira Dhalla, Director
Amy Sample Ward, CEO
Angela Siefer, Executive Director
Brian Donoghue, Deputy Director
Next Century Cities
Brian Snider, CEO
Lit Communities Broadband, Inc.
Catherine Crago, Head of Strategic Initiatives
Housing Authority of the City of Austin
Celina Moreno, J.D., President & CEO
Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA)
Chantal E. Forster, Executive Director
Technology Association of Grantmakers
Christopher Mitchell, Director of Community Broadband Networks
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Colby Hall, Executive Director
Shaping Our Appalachian Region
Danielle Chin, CEO
Seaded Consulting Firm
Debra Socia, President and CEO
The Enterprise Center, Chattanooga, TN
Dianne Connery, Director
Edwin Mitchell, Executive Director
The Arch Group, Inc., Vicksburg, Mississippi
Gabriel Garcia, J.D., Vice-President
Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers & Advisors (TATOA)
Gabriella Rowe, CEO
Grow Associates, LLC
Gene Logan, Jr., CEO
R.A. Government Services, LLC
India P. Still, JD, LLM, Deputy Executive Director, AC Initiatives Project Office
New Jersey Department of Community Affairs
Jason Dixon, CEO
Strategic Alliance Community Development Corporation
Jason Foster, President & COO
Dr. Jeanine Abrams McLean, President
Jennifer Regnier, CEO
Jewish Family Service San Antonio
Jerry Mixon, CEO
South East Sector Community Development Corporation
Jesse R. Bradley IV, Program Director
Right Here, Right Now Project
Joseph J. Ceasar, Founder and Executive Director
Legacy Institute For Financial Education
Joshua Williams, Executive Fellow/Digital Inclusion Lead
Judy Quisenberry, Executive Director
Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation
Kelty Garbee, Executive Director
Texas Rural Funders
Kevin W. Alexander, MPA, President & CEO
Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation
Kevin Stein, Chief of Legal and Strategy
California Reinvestment Coalition
Kim Alexander, CEO
Lazone Grays, President/CEO
Director, The Jessie & Senior Program Officer at The Jessie Ball duPont Fund & Board President, Technology Association of Grantmakers
Michael Potter, Co-founder
N50, Geeks Without Frontiers
Michele Connelly, Executive Director,
United Way of West Central MS
Monica Sanders, J.D., LL.M, Founder
The Undivide Project
Nishal Mohan, PhD, Founder & CEO
Robert McLaughlin, Executive Director
National Collaborative for Digital Equity
Samantha Schartman, President and CEO
The Marconi Society
Scot Henley, Executive Director
Teresa Burnett, Executive Director
Monahans Chamber of Commerce
Tiffany Patterson, President & CEO
United Ways of Texas
William E. Harrison, CEO
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