LiftFund Founder Janie Barrera Receives National 2022 Ned Gramlich Award for a Lifetime Working at the Intersection of Business and Social Justice

LiftFund has provided nearly half a billion dollars to entrepreneurs and small businesses who do not have access to commercial lenders

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Washington, D.C. – (October 18, 2022) – Opportunity Finance Network today announced small business advocate Janie Barrera is the recipient of the 2022 Ned Gramlich Lifetime Achievement Award for Responsible Finance. Presented annually by OFN, a leading network of community development financial institutions, the Gramlich Award is the CDFI industry’s highest individual honor.

Barrera is founder of LiftFund, one of the largest micro and small business lenders in the United States. The nonprofit provides loans to enterprises of all sizes across many industries and has disbursed 25,000 loans totaling more than $439 million with a 96% repayment rate.

“I am grateful and honored to receive this award and recognition,” Barrera said. “I am reminded that our work is life-changing and life-giving. And we must continue to be of service to others.”

LiftFund launched in San Antonio, Texas, in 1994 with three employees. Today, LiftFund has more than a hundred employees and operates in 15 states, providing a variety of loan and business support services, such as marketing and management skills training, to help clients grow their business.

“Janie has spent three decades advocating for a more just and inclusive economy. More than that, she has helped to make it so,” said Donna Gambrell, president and CEO of Appalachian Community Capital and chair of OFN’s board of directors. “Janie has worked hard to level the financial playing field for entrepreneurs who have faced considerable obstacles to finance their dreams.”

LiftFund played an outsized role in supporting and uplifting small businesses during the pandemic, leveraging technology to meet unprecedented demand. In 2020 alone, LiftFund disbursed more than $43 million in loans, more than $54 million in grants, and delivered more than 7,000 hours of business support, serving small businesses at a rate never seen before in industry history.

“Janie is a pioneer in technology innovations that have helped expand small business and microenterprise financing, both at LiftFund and at CDFIs throughout the country,” said Beth Lipson, OFN’s chief financial officer and interim CEO. “Janie is a fearless – and extremely effective – financial justice change agent.”

Over her career, Barrera has received local and national recognition for her service and has served on many boards. She was appointed to President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability and was named to the board of directors for the Federal Reserve of Dallas’ San Antonio Branch. In 2015, Barrera was named to the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame. Most recently, Barrera was invited to join the inaugural Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity.

Barrera will accept the Gramlich Award in New York on Thursday, October 20, at OFN’s annual conference, where more than 2000 industry leaders, practitioners, and partners will gather for three days of learning and networking.

The award is named for Ned Gramlich, a staunch, longtime advocate for responsible finance. As former Board of Governors’ primary liaison to the Fed’s Consumer Advisory Council, Gramlich advised on community development and consumer finance policy matters. He was an outspoken voice against predatory lending and a strong defender of the Community Reinvestment Act. He served on OFN’s Board from October 2006 until his death in 2007.

Previous Gramlich awardees include Susan Tachau (2021); Inez Long (2020); Michael Swack (2019); Nancy O. Andrews (2018); Linda Davenport and John Berdes (2017); Elsie Meeks (2016); Moises Loiza (2015); Bill Bynum (2014); Ron Phillips (2013); Juliana Evades (2012); Jeremy Nowak (2011); Sister Corinne Floret (2010); Martin Eakes (2009); Cliff Rosenthal (2008); and Ned Gramlich (2007).


About OFN

Opportunity Finance Network is a leading national network of more than 370 community development financial institutions, specialized lenders that provide responsible financial products and services in low-income rural, urban, and Native communities nationwide. As a trusted intermediary between CDFIs and the public and private sectors, OFN works with its partners – banks, philanthropies, corporations, government agencies and others – to create economic opportunity for all by strengthening and investing in CDFIs.

Since its founding in 1986 and through 2020, OFN has originated more than $90 billion in financing in rural, urban, and Native communities, helping to create or maintain nearly 2.2 million jobs, start or expand more than 535,000 businesses, and support the development or rehabilitation of more than 2.2 million housing units and more than 13,000 community facility projects. Learn more at

About LiftFund

LiftFund is a nonprofit small business lender that transforms lives by opening doors and leveling the financial playing field in entrepreneurship. Established in 1994, LiftFund provides responsible capital and business education to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. LiftFund has supported San Antonio small business owners with over $77.8 million in small business loans since 1994. Since its inception, LiftFund has served over 18,000 small businesses with more than $439 million in funding across its 15-state footprint, which includes: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, New York, and Texas.