Graduation Date

Spring 2020

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Michihiro Clark Sugata

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Christina Martinek

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



This thesis explores Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) business models by examining the organizational structures, procedural operations, services, and geography. It aims to understand its overall behavior as a financial institution providing low-income communities financial services and ultimately the role it plays within the neoliberal context. The research identifies that CDFIs ultimately hold a mission that promotes economic prosperity from within the neoliberal project by expanding free-market capitalist beliefs and practices when servicing low-income communities. Additionally, the findings suggest that CDFIs take on the role of the neoliberal state by operating in tandem with the Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC), which fundamentally supports the promotion of economic and business expansion. The research is based on content analysis of 11 California CDFI organizations websites, and one in depth analysis of a Humboldt County CDFI organization that examines the organizational structure, operations and services offered. In addition, the research explores the local communities CDFIs serve based on geospatial analysis of 95 California CDFI organization locations and a Humboldt County, California CDFI loan site. This research identifies that although CDFIs appear to be servicing communities of moderate income levels, they are committed to providing community development through the neoliberal tools of business and urban expansion.

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