(July 19, 2007 – New York, NY) The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions today introduced a new consulting service, “CU Breakthrough”, designed to help credit unions expand their services in low-income and underserved communities. The new service offers a roster of experienced consultants, drawn from the ranks of community development credit union (CDCU) professionals with practical experience in serving underserved populations, such as low-income rural or inner city communities, Native Americans, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the growing millions who are vulnerable to predatory lenders.
For credit unions that plan to expand into these communities for the first time, CU Breakthrough can help them to navigate unfamiliar terrain.
“We’re thrilled to see how many credit unions have converted to community charters or obtained ‘underserved expansions’,” said Federation Executive Director Cliff Rosenthal. “This is a powerful expression of the credit union commitment to serving people of modest means. But we know from many lifetimes of experience that the first step into a new market can be the hardest one, and it always helps to have an experienced guide.”
CU Breakthrough will offer credit unions a wide range of services. An “underserved audit” can identify aspects of a credit union’s operations that help or hinder access by underserved individuals. Alternatives to payday and predatory loans can help credit union members to keep more of what they earn. Special asset-building programs, such as Individual Development Account (IDA) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) programs, can attract new members from low-income communities. And credit union partnerships can make all of these programs more efficient and more effective.
“We even have a Speakers Bureau, with people like Bill Myers, who built Alternatives FCU from the ground up in New York, and Audrey Cerise, who led ASI FCU through Hurricane Katrina and never lost sight of her members in need,” said Rosenthal. “These and other leaders within our movement can help credit union board members, managers and partners to appreciate the need for action, and see how they can make a difference.”
Those interested in finding out more about CU Breakthrough can visit the Federation’s website or contact Terry Ratigan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (800) 437-8711, ext. 251.
© 2007 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.