more than $112 million of awards this month from the Treasury Department to put toward the improvement of distressed communities.

Banks and thrifts garnered $31 million of the total awarded in early October and totaled 102 of the 260 recipients.

The awards are given through the Treasury's community development financial institutions fund division. The fund seeks to promote growth and capital access in low-income communities and neighborhoods by supporting banks' and thrifts' lending and investment in those areas. Award recipients must match the government gift dollar for dollar.

Banks and thrifts have used the awards in underserved areas to increase home loans, invest in start-up businesses, and make grants to nonprofit groups.

The community development financial institutions fund is accepting applications for some of next year's awards. For information call (202) 622-8662, or visit the organization's Web site at www.treas.gov/cdfi. -- Craig Woker

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