FUND Community Institute

Building Thriving Communities

FUND CI LogoFUND Community Institute (FUND CI) is a nonprofit think tank conducting independent studies, partner projects and commissioned research designed to encourage dialogue, share best practices, and promote innovation. FUND CI is a thought leader in the FUND Family of organizations, complementing the work of FUND Consulting, a women owned consulting firm serving CDFIs and mission driven organizations since 2000.

The FUND Family of organizations works collectively to facilitate positive social, economic, and environmental impacts in communities nationwide through consulting services, research, training, and facilitation of opportunities for knowledge sharing. FUND CI was founded by Ruth Barber in 2017, with a love for research and a strong desire to give back to the industry that helped FUND Consulting grow.

The mission of FUND CI is to build thriving communities through research, training, and facilitation of opportunities for knowledge sharing.


On the heels of a noteworthy study on CDFI governing boards, FUND Community Institute conducted its first formal research project in 2017 on the role of Advisory Boards at CDFI organizations, the findings from which are available on the FUND Consulting blog. In 2018, the FUND CI team  completed a landmark study on the role of women in the CDFI Industry titled “Perception vs. Reality: Women and Change in the CDFI Industry.”  One of the key findings was that the CDFI industry has a long way to go in terms of achieving diversity and inclusion. To further investigate this issue, FUND CI conducted research in 2019 to identify the best practices of CDFIs that are recognized as being ahead of the curve in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion both internally and externally. Since then, FUND CI has conducted research on the effects on credit scores of consumers accessing small dollar credit building loans (SDCBLs)as well as succession planning in the CDFI industry. All reports and additional research can be found below.

Find an overview of our work to date in FUND CI’s Report Reflection on Five Years of Research


Additional Research

People versus Place Based Strategies

CDFIs and PPP Lending

Credit Scores as a Measure of CDFI Impact

Diversity and Inclusion at CDFIs

Women and Change in the CDFI Industry

CDFI Boards and Fundraising

The Role of Advisory Boards at CDFI Organizations

Have ideas for a research project? 

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Chicago, IL 60610

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