City First Enterprises




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2018):

Revenue: $1,170,253
Expenses: $906,259
Assets: $24,205,868




Left-of-center financial institution


Oswaldo Acosta

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City First Enterprises (CFE) is a left-of-center nonprofit holding company that specializes in loans and grants to minority-owned businesses in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas. Founded in 1993 to address alleged widespread discrimination and “redlining” in the D.C. area, the company offers loans ranging from $100,000 to $1 million, prioritizing minority-owned businesses in loan decisions. It also provides microgrants and housing loans to prevent economic development and a rise in housing prices. City First Enterprises is designated as a Community Development Fund Institution (CDFI), allowing it to tap into millions of federal dollars earmarked for institutions that serve mostly racial-minority and low-income clientele. 1


John Hamilton founded CFE and its child project, City First Bank. From 2004 until 2015 he worked as president of CFE, and during this time, he also fulfilled overlapping duties as chairman of the board at City First Homes. 2

Oswaldo Acosta is president and CEO of CFE. Acosta previously led the D.C.-based Latino Economic Development Center. Under Acosta, CFE has doubled its loan portfolio and increased the scope of its reach to surrounding areas in Northern Virginia and the Maryland regions of Baltimore, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County. 3


City First Enterprises is known for its grant and loan programs, though it also leads left-of-center initiatives. In 2020, CFE organized an initiative to support D.C. restaurants and small businesses survive during COVID-19 lockdowns. The initiative was funded by a $500,000 grant from Citi Foundation and a $35 million bridge fund from the government. 4 5

In October 2020, CFE announced a partnership with Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to manage and disburse the $3 million Small Business Resiliency Fund, a pool of funds designed to lessen the impact of government-mandated shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund offered $10,000 microgrants to businesses with 50 or fewer employees that could demonstrate more than 25% revenue losses due to COVID-19. 6

In 2003, CFE developed the New Markets Tax Credit program which eventually provided more than $350 million in funding for projects such as THEARC, Capital Area Food Bank, and Atlas Performing Arts Center. 7 CFE also received $2.5 million in 2020 from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Institutions Fund. Members of the National Bankers Association criticized the Treasury Department program in 2015, saying only 2% of the $450 billion issued from 2003 to 2012 for new market tax credits and community development funds had gone to minority-led banks. 8

City First Bank

In 1998, CFE founded City First Bank. Because more than 60% of its loans are given to minority-owned and low-income businesses, City First Bank is also designated as a Community Development Financial Institution, which allows it to access earmarked federal funds from the U.S. Treasury.  In 2020, City First Bank announced a merger with the Los Angeles-based Broadway Federal Bank. The merger created the largest African American-led bank in the U.S., with more than $1 billion in assets. CFE is a major shareholder of the new institution, with the New York Times reporting that City First Bank shareholders will retain a 47.5% stake in the merged bank. 9

Douglass Community Land Trust

In 2017, CFE partnered with Citi Community Development to create a community land trust for the low-income Anacostia region of Washington, D.C. The trust aims at preventing “gentrification” in the region by maintaining affordable housing prices and enabling lower-income residents to purchase homes, despite rising housing prices. The land trust purchases the land, and then leases it to the former home or business owner at below-market rates. The Douglass Community Land Trust has also committed to develop the Anacostia region by building the 11th Street Bridge Park, which is being funded at $74 million and is set to open in 2023. 10


  1. City First Enterprises. “About Us.” CFE website. Undated. Accessed June 4, 2021.
  2. Linkedin. “John Hamilton. Linkedin Website. Undated. Accessed June 4, 2021.
  3. Medici, Andy. “Oswaldo Acosta.” Washington Business Journal. March 18, 2021. Accessed June 4, 2021.
  4. Citigroup Inc. “Citi Foundation Provides $15 million in Support to 30 Community Development Financial Institutions Across the U.S.” Website. November 19, 2020. Accessed June 7, 2021.
  5. Medici, Andy. “Oswaldo Acosta.” Washington Business Journal. March 18, 2021. Accessed June 4, 2021.
  6. Blitz, Matt. “D.C. is Launching $10,000 Grants to Help Small Businesses ‘Pivot.” Website. October 6, 2020. Accessed June 4, 2021.
  7. City First Enterprises. “About Us.” CFE website. Undated. Accessed June 4, 2021.
  8. Courier Newsroom. “Minority Banks Shut Out of New Tax Credit Awards.” New Pittsburgh Courier. July 28, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2021.
  9. Cowley, Stacy. “Two Black-Led Banks Merge to Form a $1 Billion Lender.” The New York Times. August 26, 2020. Accessed June 7, 2021.
  10. Jamison, Peter. “Could a Community Land Trust Help solve D.C.’s Gentrification Crisis?” The Washington Post. October 2, 2019. Accessed June 7, 2021.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 1998

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2018 Dec Form 990 $1,170,253 $906,259 $24,205,868 $3,686,823 N $585,554 $0 $458,214 $0 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,237,761 $1,312,082 $21,964,071 $1,987,206 N $692,396 $0 $408,745 $0 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,111,560 $1,112,077 $20,550,028 $538,801 N $1,731,492 $0 $253,878 $0
    2015 Dec Form 990 $3,187,249 $1,581,824 $18,929,764 $406,783 N $3,010,164 $0 $100,949 $451,050 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $4,412,341 $2,686,748 $18,584,365 $1,878,293 N $4,201,818 $0 $28,215 $846,024 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,465,838 $2,188,772 $14,773,705 $153,940 N $1,524,596 $0 $51,182 $634,786 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $3,913,283 $1,125,705 $13,973,676 $122,946 N $3,717,342 $0 $31,356 $364,706 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $5,852,411 $6,001,872 $12,323,256 $1,726,858 N $5,696,000 $0 $51,338 $270,113 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    City First Enterprises

    1436 U Street NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-5320