FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY – (October 1, 2015) – The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions has announced the expansion of Juntos Avanzamos, Together We Advance, a designation for credit unions committed to serving and empowering Hispanic consumers. Juntos Avanzamos was developed by the Cornerstone Credit Union League which represents Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Vantage West Credit Union of Tucson, AZ and MariSol Federal Credit Union of Phoenix, AZ each received the Juntos Avanzamos designation last week in conjunction with the joint Federation Annual Conference and CUNA Community Credit Union Conference held in Phoenix, marking the national expansion of the program and bringing the number of Juntos Avanzamos designated credit unions to 40.
“Consistent with the credit union mission of service to members and their communities, Juntos Avanzamos is an outreach program to assist Hispanics, understand our financial system, and provide them with pertinent and affordable financial services,” explains Cornerstone’s President/CEO Richard L. Ensweiler. “This typically underserved segment of the population needs and appreciates the personal service credit unions provide. Juntos Avanzamos is a way of qualifying credit unions to ensure they are truly Hispanic friendly, and then tells the community the credit union is ready and willing to serve this demographic. Juntos Avanzamos has proven to be an excellent outreach program in Texas and Oklahoma, and is now ready to be expanded elsewhere,” continues Ensweiler.
The Cornerstone League; the Federation; and Coopera, Iowa-based consultants to the industry on the Hispanic market, have been working together to foster a collaborative effort to bring this program to a national credit union audience. The program will initially focus on the Southwest, where it will be promoted and supported by the California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues, the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, and Mountain West Credit Union Association.
“The Federation is excited to make the Juntos Avanzamos program available nationwide,” says Pablo DeFilippi, Federation VP of Membership and Business Development. “Connecting financially underserved consumers to the financial mainstream is a moral imperative. Without access to asset building opportunities, to affordable credit and responsible products that credit unions committed to financial inclusion, such as Vantage West CU, Marisol FCU and the other Juntos Avanzamos participant credit unions offer, the American dream will always be just that…a dream and not a reality.”
Originally launched in 2005 as an immigrant outreach program, the Juntos Avanzamos program was designed to help credit unions attract and serve the growing Hispanic market in Texas, explains Bob Peterson, president and CEO of One Source Credit Union in El Paso, Texas, and chairman of Cornerstone’s International Relations Subcommittee. “The program has expanded into Oklahoma as a result of the formation of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, and now nationally as a result of ongoing work with Coopera, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, and other state or regional leagues,” says Peterson.
“Tucson is very proud that Tucson-based Vantage West is the first credit union outside of Texas and Oklahoma to become a Juntos Avanzamos credit union,” stated Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “Not only is it good civic sense, it is good business sense, and Vantage West is a big part of that. This population has economic power. You’ve taken the language and culture of your members and designed services accordingly. Vantage West looked out into the community and asked where can we help. If all our businesses would do that, we’d be much further along as a community.”
Robert D. Ramirez, Vantage West CU President and CEO says: “It is important for us to recognize the sources of our current and most likely future growth: based on US Census statistics and other research, there are projections for strong growth in the Hispanic market segment, Arizona’s economy is home to more than 67,000 Hispanic-owned businesses, the overwhelming majority of the state’s 100,000 minority-owned businesses and Latinos will be the majority in the state by 2030, or soon thereafter. We recognize that along with growth from the Hispanic segment comes the responsibility to serve members according to their preferences. Esto significa que debemos considerar tanto idioma como cultura (This means taking both language and culture into consideration), both in our marketing efforts and in the delivery of our member service,” he concluded.
Mexican Consulate of Tucson Consul Adjunct Enrique Alfonso Gómez adds, “It’s a matter of moving forward together, the search of an American Dream for people who have been living here for years or just arrived, and having access to fair financial services can help make the American dream an American reality.”
Says Robin Romano, MariSol CU President and CEO, “MariSol CU is humbled to be a part of this effort initiated by Cornerstone and now taken national jointly with the Federation. As a low income designated, CDFI certified, and community development credit union, this Juntos Avanzamos designation highlights our commitment to financially underserved populations. Our mission is to empower our members through financial inclusion. Everyone is entitled to fair services for a fair price. Juntos Avanzamos means Together We Advance, and for MariSol, we are delighted to take the path forward, hand and hand, with all our members.”
Jose Antonio Aguayo Vazquez, Deputy Consul from the General Consulate of Mexico in Phoenix added, “We congratulate the incorporation of MariSol Federal Credit Union to this national initiative. We are confident that by working together we can create new tools and resources to address the challenge of bringing to the financial mainstream the more than 1.5 million people of Mexican origin who live in this state.”
Cornerstone and the Federation have also approved five additional Juntos Avanzamos credit unions, which will be recognized in ceremonies later this year: Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M.; Lower Valley CU, Sunnyside, Wash.; Rio Grande CU, Albuquerque, N.M.; Santa Cruz Community CU, Santa Cruz, Calif.; and SCE CU, Irwindale, Calif.
We look forward to working with credit union leagues/associations; partners; with CUNA; Coopera and others to bring more credit unions into this effort. By collaborating in the forming of a national platform, Latino consumers will be able to connect more effectively with credit unions committed and prepared to meet their financial needs. Although the initial focus is on the Southwest, we welcome credit unions everywhere to join us, contact Jason Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for the Juntos Avanzamos application.