CDFI Fund Award Makes the Difference
(May 19, 2008 – Brooklyn, NY) A sun-drenched playground reverberated with the sounds of salsa and ska, as the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union celebrated the opening of a new branch in one of New York City’s famed but underserved neighborhoods, Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday, May 17.
An impressive list of state and national legislators witnessed Donna Gambrell, Director of the federal CDFI Fund, present an award check of $393,998 to the credit union’s leadership. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, chairperson of the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee; Congressman Edolphus Towns, who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee; and State Assemblyman Darryl Towns, Chairman of the New York State Assembly Banks Committee, expressed strong support both for the federal CDFI Fund, and for the New York State CDFI Fund, created last year in order to help CDFIs leverage increased federal and private sector support. New York City council Member Letitia James has also been a strong supporter of the credit union.
“Now more than ever, during these tough economic times, it is important for all New Yorkers to have the opportunity to chart their own course to financial freedom. The Brooklyn Cooperative FCU’s new branch office will provide our neighbors in Bedford-Stuyvesant with more accessible banking services at a time of dwindling financial options,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez.
|(From left: CDFI Fund Director Donna Gambrell; U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez; and Brooklyn Cooperative FCU CEO, Jack Lawson in front of the new credit union branch.
Brooklyn Cooperative FCU is the youngest community development credit union (CDCU) in New York City. Since its founding in 2000, it has grown to $7.3 million in assets and serving 4,765 members. The credit union has received six financial assistance and technical assistance awards from the CDFI Fund since 2001, totaling over $1.1 million, which has enabled the credit union to establish a firm financial base, and with the most recent award, to branch out from its headquarters in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, to another largely minority, heavily low-income neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, which has far fewer bank branches than other, more prosperous areas.
New York Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns, who was also on hand at the branch opening, spoke to attendees. “I’ve been working with credit unions and other CDFIs for a number of years as Chairman of the Assembly Banks Committee,” explained Towns, “But throughout that time I’ve been dying to have a CDFI that I could call my own, one that is addressed right in my district, and I’m very happy to finally welcome the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union to this neighborhood. I look forward to working closely them in the future,” he added.
“We are very proud to be here serving the people of Bedford Stuyvesant with a local branch,” said Jack Lawson, CEO of the credit union. “We know the hard work is just beginning, but we are looking forward to many good years of working together with the many great community-based organizations and elected officials that make this neighborhood such an excellent place to set new roots.” The credit union branch will be open five days a week, and will offer Brooklyn Cooperative FCU’s core financial services: low-fee loans, savings accounts, checking accounts and ATM card, tax preparation assistance, homeownership counseling, housing loans, and small-business technical assistance and loans.
Cliff Rosenthal, President and CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, described Brooklyn Cooperative FCU as “one of the most successful start-up credit unions of the last decade anywhere in the country. We were delighted to see the strong support from key legislators both for the CDCU, but also for the CDFI movement in general.”
Brooklyn Cooperative FCU was awarded $393,998 through the 2007 round of the CDFI Fund's main monetary award program – the CDFI Program. This financial and technical assistance award has allowed the credit union to open its first branch office to expand its lending activities, homeownership counseling, tax assistance to individuals and families, and other lifeline financial services in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
© 2008 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.