WEDA Partners to Launch Innovative CRA Survey and Data Portal: Whitney Roberts, CRA Network Coordinator

Before the pandemic dramatically changed the landscape of communities and businesses across Wisconsin, a committed group of lenders and economic development professionals worked together through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Network to identify potential deals focused on meeting community needs as well as federal regulation. While successful, members and leaders saw gaps in the geographic reach of the network and also in the types of projects available for funding. Members of the network began asking why and how we might move to fill those gaps and connect lenders, large and small, with the most pressing needs of our communities, in accordance with Community Reinvestment Act regulation.

In March 2020, a core team from WEDA identified leaders in nonprofit, finance, philanthropy, social services, healthcare, housing, workforce development, and economic development to serve as members of a working group. The purpose of the working group was to build a comprehensive community needs assessment survey that could provide actionable data to both community organizations and funders statewide to meet the needs of low and moderate income individuals. The 22 member working group met throughout the summer to identify gaps in community needs assessment data and develop questions for their audiences that would provide valuable insights not currently available, ultimately leading to increased CRA eligible deals.

Dawn Follendorf, Community Reinvestment Officer at Incredible Bank and CRA Survey Working Group Chair describes the impact of the project this way :

  • The CRA survey results will provide us with much needed insights on the barriers to financial security faced by low- and moderate-income individuals and the economic inclusion needs of minority populations across all regions of Wisconsin we serve. With this information, we will be better equipped to develop partnerships and direct our resources in a way that best meet the most pressing needs in our communities.”

Members of the working group represented United Way of Wisconsin, WISCAP, UW Milwaukee Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management, WEDC Office of Rural Prosperity, Wells Fargo, Rural Wisconsin Healthcare Collaborative, WHEDA, BMO Harris, UW Madison Extension, Association of Wisconsin Regional Planning Commissions, Wisconsin Philanthropy Network, and Economic Growth Advisors, LLC.

The survey is currently live through the beginning of November 2020. Results of the survey will be available on by February of 2021 and a full portal of statewide data will be publicly available next year at the same address. If you have received an email invitation to complete the survey, we’re asking you to complete it by October 31st.

For questions about the survey or the project, contact project lead, Brian Doudna at Thank you to all of our partners and to those completing the survey for their time and effort.