(February 26, 2006 - Washington, D.C.) February 26, marked a new page in credit union collaboration at the historic opening of a shared branch in the heavily Hispanic Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C.'s Ward One. Partially funded by a $100,000 grant from the Federation's Bridge Grant Program, the new venture brought together three independent credit unions, District Government Employees FCU, IDB/IIC FCU, and OAS Staff FCU, to collaborate on a new outlet that will provide affordable financial services to Latinos in the neighborhood.
According to Carlos Calderón, CEO of the $115 million OAS Staff FCU, the idea for the new shared-branch, appropriately named ACCESO (Spanish for access), was born thorugh discussions at the Federation's 2nd Latino Credit Union Conference, which was held in San Diego, CA in 2002. The Federation's 4th Latino Credit Union Conference is being held this summer, June 7-8, in Durham, North Carolina. For more information about that conference, please click here.
Upon his return to Washington, D.C., Calderón began looking for other credit unions to partner with. His search brought Carla Decker, CEO of the $38 million District Government Employees FCU, and Bruce Cameron, CEO of the $274 million IDB/IIC FCU, to the table for intial conversations. Nearly four years later, what began as informal discussions between credit uions leaders has become a reality.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony, which took place at the standing-room only ACCESO branch brought together local community leaders, city officials, government regulators, and credit union supporters. Some of the speakers at the event included newly appointed NCUA Board Member Gigi Hyland and Gustavo Velazquez, Executive Director of the Mayor's Office for Latino Affairs.
After the ribbon-cutting, attendees were invited to the Inter American Defense Board for a reception with live Mariachis. Presentations were made by officials of all three sponsoring credit unions; Ward One Council Member, Jim Graham; Federation Captialization Program Director Alice Greenwld; and Federation Board Member Randy Chambers (Self-Help CU - Durham, NC), who was raised in the same neighborhood where the new branch is located.
The Federation is proud to have played an important role in this new collaboration and we wish ACCESO much success. Funding for the Federation's Bridge Grants came from the generous support of the Ford Foundation.
The ACCESSO Management Team: Anna Maria Barrientos Roig, Asst. Manager and Diego Grajales, General Manager.
From Left to Right: Carla Decker, President DGE FCU; Pablo DeFilippi, Federation BOD; Julio Fernandez, Treasurer, OAS Staff FCU BOD; Carlos Calderón, President OAS Staff FCU; Alice Greenwald and Brian Gately, Federation Staff.