DOJ Press Release letterhead

  • For Immediate Release
  • Tuesday, September 2, 2008


WASHINGTON - The United States Departments of Justice and Treasury today announced a first-time partnership in strengthening and fostering economic development in Native American communities.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund is partnering with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO) to launch an Indian Economic Development Initiative. The Initiative will increase access to financing for existing businesses; create new businesses, increase housing opportunities; and strengthen legal infrastructure.

“This partnership is an excellent collaboration,” said Donna Gambrell, the CDFI Fund’s Director. “It is through our training programs that the CDFI Fund can play a pivotal role in CCDO’s initiative in Native Communities. I’m very excited about this opportunity to leverage federal funds for such a worthwhile and crucial program. By combining our two initiatives, we have the potential to significantly change some of our nation’s most challenged communities.”

The economic development projects will take place in the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Indian Community in Cass Lake, Minnesota, and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Baraga, Michigan. The sites will participate in community planning, commercial code development and business development. CCDO activities dovetail the CDFI Fund resources provided to Native organizations. CDFI technical assistance focuses on creating new Native CDFIs and strengthening the operational capacity of existing ones, including asset development activities for native individuals and families.

Both sites currently take part in CCDO’s Weed and Seed Program which aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in high-crime communities across the United States. The Program uses a two-pronged approach – first, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in ‘weeding out’ violent criminals and drug abusers; and second, public agencies and community-based private organizations collaborate to ‘seed’ much-needed human services, such as prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood restoration programs.

“The Community Capacity Development Office is committed to fostering economic development as a means of improving the safety and health of tribal communities and all communities in which we work” said Director Dennis Greenhouse. “The ultimate outcomes of economic development in these native communities will be stronger tribal governments and more wealth in depressed communities."

The CDFI Fund’s Native Initiatives works to increase access to credit, capital, and financial services in communities by creating and expanding CDFIs primarily serving Native Communities. This is achieved by funding programs and providing a series of training programs to organizations working in Native areas. The CDFI Fund’s Native Initiatives also makes financial assistance awards to certified Native CDFIs and provides grants to Native organizations to help them build the capacity to become a certified Native CDFI. More information can be found at

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at