(November 8, 2010 – San Francisco, CA) At a gala ceremony on Wednesday, November 3, at the Opportunity Finance Network Conference in San Francisco, Bethex Federal Credit Union, a community development credit union (CDCU) and certified community development financial institution (CDFI) serving the predominantly low-income South Bronx community in New York City, was presented with $25,000 from the Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards in recognition of the CDCU’s community impact.
|Lillian Bent, Bethex FCU Chairman, accepts the NEXT Award for Community Impact from a Wells Fargo representative.
Chartered in 1970 to provide affordable credit and financial services, as well as financial education, to “welfare mothers”, the credit union has grown to nearly $16 million in assets financial institution serving over 6,000 low- and moderate-income members throughout the South Bronx, which according to the Census Bureau is the poorest Congressional District in the United States with more than 38% of the population and 49% of children living below the poverty line.
Despite its relatively small size, Bethex FCU provides a full suite of services ranging from savings and checking accounts; debit cards and credit cards; personal, car, mortgage, and small business loans; and most recently, online banking with bill pay.
“Bethex Federal Credit Union is an institution that’s near and dear to our hearts,” explained Cliff Rosenthal, President/CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation). “The Federation has worked with Bethex since its earliest days and we have provided them with low-cost capital investments, technical assistance, and staff training through our CDCU Institute™. Bethex has been serving residents of the South Bronx for 40 years, and remains one of the only regulated financial institutions available to its community. They are an absolutely vital financial institution, and this award recognizes their decades of service to one of most low-income communities in the nation,” he added.
Lillian Bent, Chairman of Bethex’s Board of Directors, accepted the award on behalf of the CDCU. “It is very exciting to receive this award,” explained Bent. “We recently received a $750,000 grant from the CDFI Fund and $500,000 in secondary capital from Treasury’s Community Development Capital Initiative, so this really feels like icing on the cake.”
Launched in 2007, the Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards “provide low-interest loans and grants totaling $8.25 million each year to two premier CDFIs with a history of outstanding accomplishment, a bold and compelling vision, and extraordinary potential for growth, innovation, and impact,” as well as four $25,000 awards to CDFIs that demonstrate outstanding advocacy, community impact, innovation and financing.
|Lillian Bent, Bethex FCU Chairman (second from left) with the other $25,000 awardees, in the areas of Advocacy, Innovation, and Financing.
This year's $5.5 million award was given to Boston Community Capital, the $2.5 million award was presented to Enterprise Cascadia, with the three other $25,000 awards going to Forward Community Investments (Advocacy); Appalachian Community Enterprises (Innovation); and Business Carolina (Financing).
Since inception, several CDCUs have received NEXT Awards including $2.75 million to Latino Community Credit Union (Durham, NC) and $25,000 to ASI Federal Credit Union (New Orleans, LA) in 2007; and $25,000 to Cooperative Federal Credit Union (Syracuse, NY) in 2008. Alternatives Federal Credit Union (Ithaca, NY) was one of three finalists in this year’s competition for the $5.5 million award to organizations with more than $50 million in assets.
The Wells Fargo Wachovia NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance were made possible by generous grant support from the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation, and a major program-related investment from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Photos courtesy of Sam Levitan Photography (http://www.samlevitan.com).
© 2010 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.