With federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Refugee Social Services funding through the Colorado Department of Human Services Colorado Refugee Services Program, CEDS was established in 2009 to serve just refugees, and became an independent 501(c)(3) organization in 2011. CEDS has since grown its Aurora based operations in terms of staffing, diversity of funding, range of eligible clients, and maturity of its loan options and business services. CEDS currently has two programs: individual development accounts and microenterprise development.
In 2012 CEDS was certified through the U.S. Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). In 2015 CEDS was approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as an SBA Microloan Intermediary Lender, only the third such program in Colorado. Also in 2015, CEDS received the first program related investment made by The Denver Foundation. These new funding sources are critical for the strategic growth and sustainability of CEDS. They allow CEDS to increase the amount of its maximum loan by combining and thus leveraging resources from various loan funds, and to serve all low income residents in the Metro Denver area, not just refugees.
CEDS’ funds come from the following sources:
Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR): CEDS is proud of its partnership with ORR through two programs that promote financial independence and community integration for refugees:
- Individual Development Account (IDA): The ORR IDA program is an anti-poverty strategy, which has the goals of asset accumulation and economic independence for refugee individuals and families whose income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level. CEDS supports clients to systematically save in matched savings accounts and participate in the financial institutions of this country, by providing intensive training and technical assistance, and by helping clients to save towards the purchase of one of four asset goals: a house, business, vehicle, or post-secondary education.
In FFY 2016, CEDS received a $212,000 grant from ORR for this program.
- Microenterprise Development (MED): The ORR MED program helps refugees develop, expand or maintain their own businesses and become financially independent. CEDS supports entrepreneurs with loans, one-on-one counseling, technical assistance, and training. ORR allows the combining of its loan funds with those from other sources in order to make larger loans.
In FFY 2016, CEDS received a $243,000 grant from ORR for this program. CEDS has about $550,000 in additional revolving loan funds from prior year ORR grants.
Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA is an independent agency of the federal government created to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. CEDS is an approved Intermediary Lender through the SBA Microloan Program, pursuant to Section 7(m) of the Small Business Act. This status gives CEDS access to the SBA Microloan Revolving Fund, as well as to a technical assistance grant. SBA loan funds are not restricted to just refugees, and can be combined with loan funds from other sources in order to make larger loans.
In FFY 2015, CEDS received from the SBA a $250,000 loan to expand its MED program, and a $50,000 grant to provide pre-loan and post-loan technical assistance.
The Denver Foundation (TDF): TDF is a community foundation, the mission of which is to inspire people and mobilize resources to strengthen the Denver community. TDF’s Impact Investment Fund is designed to enhance the Foundation’s impact in its focus areas of Basic Human Needs, Economic Opportunity, Education, and Community Leadership, and to create learning opportunities for the Foundation on alternative funding options for nonprofits and other groups that further the Foundation’s mission. CEDS was given the first program related investment made by TDF through this Impact Investment Fund.
In FFY 2015, CEDS received a $100,000 loan from The Denver Foundation’s Impact Investment Fund.