Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

At CEI we support & celebrate diversity

As an organization with roots in the civil rights movement, we are committed to creating a more just, inclusive and sustainable economy.

The financial system is built on biases, particularly around race, gender, ability and class, that still keep far too many people from accessing capital and building a more secure financial future for themselves and their families.

As a community development financial institution, we have a responsibility to ensure that historic wrongs are righted, and those previously marginalized are included. Our role as a business lender, investor, advisor and advocate requires us to recognize and dismantle the barriers and biases in the financial system that have caused deep racial disparities in wealth, housing, health, education, employment and representation since European colonists arrived in North America.

Our Commitment to DEI

CEI is committed to regularly examining and changing our own policies and practices to engage more fully with our Black and Indigenous community members and community members of color.

That means investigating how our lending and investment processes, risk management and marketing and outreach may have prevented individuals or groups from seeking CEI financing or advice. We are taking those learnings and actively using them to improve our processes and anticipate and remove possible barriers.

CEI staff members are united in our mission to build an economy that works more equitably. Advancing our mission means deepening our relationship with people and communities that have been overlooked, underinvested, underestimated and under-resourced due to racism and bias.

Here are specific ways we are taking action now:

Products, Programs & Services

Making improvements to our current lending and business advising practices and developing new ones, including:

  • Revising our lending policies based on input from members of historically marginalized groups in Maine and external consultation from Ryse Local Ventures
  • Creating a collateral pool that extends our lending to more borrowers who have lower wealth and assets
  • Piloting a flexible equity-like investment product for early-stage and growth businesses owned by BIPOC entrepreneurs 
  • Launching a new Women’s Business Center in Southern Maine to grow relationships and programs for women, especially Black and Indigenous women, women of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and women who immigrated to the US from other countries
  • Expanding business assistance and financing for diverse business owners through Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital program
  • Working closely with women of color, including those who immigrated to Lewiston from Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi, to open culturally supportive child care programs through our Child Care Business Lab


  • Embedding equity into our strategic plan for the next five years
  • Changing how we hire and retain colleagues to ensure that our practices are welcoming and supportive of diverse community members and that our organization has the diverse perspectives and talents needed to expand economic opportunity
  • Implementing diversity, equity and inclusion communications practices
  • Engaging in an organization-wide and ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion inquiry and learning process
  • Providing time for our colleagues to vote on Election Days


  • Serving as a member of Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Tribal Populations
  • Building on our experience as a community development practitioner, advocating for policies that support the economic well-being of people who are not well served by traditional financial institutions
  • Actively participating in the Diversity Hiring Coalition of Maine