The Philadelphia-based Opportunity Finance Network has announced the winners of the 2011 Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance.
Administered and funded by the Wachovia/Wells Fargo and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundations, the NEXT Awards recognize top-performing community development financial institutions (CDFIs) for lending programs that directly benefit low- and moderate-income communities. This year's winners — Coastal Enterprises, Inc. in Wiscasset, Maine, and the Progress Fund in Greensburg, Pennsylvania — will receive a total of $8.25 million in grants.
With its $5.5 million grant, CEI plans to expand its national Working Partner Initiative, which brings together CDFIs and other community-based organizations to finance innovative projects in rural regions across the country. The Progress Fund, which will receive $2.75 million, will work to expand and replicate its Trail Town Program, which provides support to small businesses involved in outdoor recreation and tourism along the Great Allegheny Passage, a 141-mile biking and hiking trail that runs from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cumberland, Maryland.
"Since the NEXT Awards began five years ago, we have had the privilege of helping high-performing CDFIs expand their impact and deliver critical financial resources to underserved communities," said Debra Schwartz, director of program-related investments at the MacArthur Foundation. "As in years past, this year's winners are delivering game-changing capital to transform low-wealth markets across the country."