Border Federal Credit Union serves 13 rural counties in Western Texas. True to its name, the credit union’s main branch in Del Rio sits less than six miles from the Mexican border. The credit union has grown substantially in recent years; it’s expanded to serve remote communities that previously had no access to safe and affordable financial services. Border is now nearly $150 million in assets, serving over 24,000 members at its six branches. The credit union’s commitment to its members has been recognized by their community, who have voted and ranked the credit union as the top local financial institution four years running, and recognized by national organizations through its designations as a CDFI and a Juntos Avanzamos credit union.
As part of Border’s deep commitment to service, the credit union has been providing one-on-one financial and housing counseling to their members since 2003. Their counseling team now includes three full-time counselors who provide in-depth counseling to over 500 people in their community each year and educational classes to many more. In 2015, Border became one of the first credit unions to pilot the Pathways to Financial Empowerment model. The Pathways initiative, developed by the Federation and Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, integrates counseling with high-impact financial products to help members reach their financial goals. Pathways utilizes a new, standardized platform to help evaluate members’ progress toward improved credit, manageable debt levels, and short and long-term savings. In its first year of implementation, Border has already served 400 people using the Pathways platform, which enables the credit union to better understand clients’ initial financial condition in a “Financial Snapshot” and establish detailed, individualized plans on how to move forward, called “Take Action Today.” Their counseling program reaches low-wage workers who often come to counseling seeking advice on how to manage their debt or work toward long-term homeownership dreams. Since the program began, Border has opened nearly 100 new financial products for clients, ranging from club savings account that help members save for special purchases, to small dollar loans for short-term needs or to consolidate debts at more affordable rates. With such promising early results, we can’t wait to see what Border FCU can do as it continues to grow and to track its impact in West Texas communities.