Community Development Funders Forum

Vision and Theory of Change

  1. The St. Louis Community Development Funders Forum (CDFF) seeks to advance cross-sector collaboration among financial institutions, corporate philanthropy, foundations, government and quasi-governmental entities to promote equitable community and economic development in the region.
  2. CDFF will motivate conversations among local funders about ways to target key needs, align and share metrics, and design collective action.
  3. CDFF will strengthen regional capacity to deploy and absorb community and economic development capital and to create impactful outcomes.
St. Louis Community Development Funders Forum


• Committed funders who are investing in community development projects

• Community and economic development practioners and experts

• Existing resources and capacity

• Thought partnership and leadership

• Transfer of knowledge and resources

• Convene periodically around current trends in community and economic development capital flows and projects

• Identify a collective vision for the group

• Seek out opportunities to collaborate on emerging initiatives

• Identify shared metrics


• A structured group of finders and stakeholders collaborating to advance equitable and impactful investment into community and economic development

•A hub for sharing data, metrics, outcomes, partnership stories and opportunities


•Aligned and increased capital flow to stabilize and sustain the most challenged neighborhoods and sectors

•A stronger regional capacity to deploy and absorb community development capital


  • 2017 and 2019 - The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis conducted 11 Investment Connection events in various parts of the Eighth Federal Reserve District. The events generated over 500 connection points between funders and nonprofit organizations that resulted in more than $2.7 million dollars of funding for participating organizations. However, consistency in funder participation varied throughout the region.
  • 2019 - The first funders roundtable was piloted in St. Louis to strengthen connection among cross-sector funders of community and economic development projects in the region. This included banks, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), foundations, governmental entities, and individual or corporate philanthropies. Funders quickly began collaborating around ideas and projects. The 2019 Investment Connection saw participation from financial institutions as well as other funders who otherwise would not have been at the same table.
  • 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic halted the Investment Connection program. Multiple emergency funds supported through collaborative grantmaking were deployed in the St. Louis region to help communities respond to the pandemic and to promote racial healing. In August 2020, the St. Louis Fed’s Community Partnerships and Investment (CPI) team hosted a second St. Louis funders roundtable to explore outlets for fostering long-term collaboration among community and economic development funders for equitable and sustainable economic recovery. At this roundtable, funders indicated that a forum could provide an opportunity to better align and coordinate their funding efforts.


CDFF launched in 2021 with three pillars of engagement: equity, alignment with community needs, and coordination with existing initiatives and funding. CDFF has over 30 participating members who represent foundations, financial institutions, funding intermediaries, economic development organizations and local government agencies. For more information on CDFF, contact Neelu Panth at

Current Members
St. Louis Community Foundation Enterprise Bank & Trust
Missouri Foundation for Health Simmons Bank
Deaconess Foundation St. Louis Community Credit Union
YouthBridge Community Foundation First Bank
Incarnate Word Foundation St. Louis CDFI Coalition
Marillac Mission Fund (part of Ascension Healthcare) Midwest BankCentre
Greater St. Louis Inc. Midland States Bank
Philanthropy Missouri FCB Bank
Center for Civic Research and Innovation St. Louis County
Cortex St. Louis City Mayor's Office
U.S. Bank St. Louis Development Corp.
JPMorgan Chase CNote

CDFF Pillars of Work for Coordination of Coinvestment

Community Development Funders Forum process: Develop an idea, plan, align, reflect, and decide next steps

Through a Strategic Doing process that involved four months of facilitated action-oriented collaboration, CDFF members identified the following pillars of work that will engage them to align, coordinate and coinvest:

  • Regional funding coordination
  • Community and economic development ecosystem capacity-building
  • Affordable, quality housing
  • People of color-owned small businesses
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