Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are banks, loan funds, venture capital funds,credit unions, and microenterprise entities that have a primary mission of serving lower-incomecommunities and people. According to the CDFI Fund of the United States Treasury, there arecurrently 71 community development (CD) banks, 333 loan funds, 119 CD credit unions, 20 CDventure capital funds, and 59 microenterprise programs in operation in the United States. There are also 11 CDFI intermediaries and 22 multi-bank community development corporations that are certified as CDFIs. An increasing number of these institutions combine several of these distinct types of financial organizations. Collectively they provide housing, business and consumer loans, investments, and retail banking services to people who are either not served or are underserved by traditional financial institutions, thus helping them enter the financial mainstream. They may help a young couple buy a first house, enable a small business owner to expand her business, provide a low-cost banking account to an unbanked person, or help finance a shopping center or other major development in a neighborhood that desperately needs an economic catalyst to overcome years of disinvestment. CDFIs are started in a variety of ways and with different sources of funding. However, they rely heavily on investments from regular banks and thrift institutions for loans and investments. These loans and investments are made partly because of certain financial institutions' responsibilities under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). That Act provides that regulated banks and thrifts have an affirmative obligation to help meet the credit needs of their communities, including lower-income neighborhoods. The federal bank regulators are currently considering changes to the regulations that implement the CRA. One change, reducing the current tripartite exam structure for large banks to two exams and eliminating the "investment test," would have a devastating impact on bank and thrift investments in CDFIs. Using a new data source, this alert describes just how important the investments of regulated financial institutions are to CDFIs and, hence, why the investment test should be preserved.