Bank of America is pumping $10 million into the Opportunity Finance Network, a national group of 167 financial firms that promote investment and lending for small businesses in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods across the nation.

The new funding, announced earlier this week, will give a boost to enterprises that might not otherwise have access to capital, officials from the Charlotte, N.C.-based financial instituton said.

The group, formerly known as the National Community Capital Association, will use the funds to finance so-called community-development financial institutions, which directly oversee low-interest loans to small businesses in urban, rural, and Native American communities in all 50 states.

The investments will initially focus on small businesses in California.

"Our two companies will leverage growth opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs as engines for inclusive prosperity in their markets," Mark Pinsky, the group's president, said in a statement, referring to the partnership with the Bank of America.

In 2004, the Opportunity Finance Network helped provide some $9.6 billion in investments for women- and minority-owned businesses, affordable housing, and community service projects -- together creating or maintaining over 28,000 businesses and 141,000 jobs, according to internal statistics.