WASHINGTON (8/12/11)--The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund eclipsed $1 billion in total awards this year and is "reaching new heights" in 2011, said CDFI Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell in a Thursday release. The CDFI Fund helps locally based financial institutions offer small business, consumer and home loans in communities and populations that lack access to affordable credit. The number of certified CDFIs reached 960 this year, the highest number since the fund began in 1994 and an increase of nearly 20% since last year, Gambrell noted, adding that the list of CDFIs will grow “as more organizations recognize the benefits of certification. “We also recognize that, as it does grow, we must continue to work closely with new and existing CDFIs to ensure that they fully appreciate the responsibilities that come with being a certified CDFI,” Gambrell added. The fund earlier this year awarded $142,302,667 to 155 institutions, including 25 credit unions, in the largest single round of monetary awards in it's history. The fund’s New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) program also grew during 2011, receiving a record 314 applications for $26.6 billion in NMTC allocation authority. Credit unions are among those eligible to participate in the NMTC, which seeks to spur the investment of new private sector capital into low-income communities by permitting individual or corporate taxpayers to receive a credit against federal income taxes for making Qualified Equity Investments. Those investments must be made in designated Community Development Entities. Gambrell also previewed some upcoming CDFI Fund projects, including its developing CDFI Bond Guarantee Program and a potential project that would aid low-income individuals living along the U.S.-Mexico border. For the full CDFI Fund release, use the resource link.