(April 26, 2011 – New York, NY) The Federation has received a major grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies to pilot a nationwide program that will help low-income seniors gain financial security. Eight U.S. community development credit unions (CDCUs) -- credit unions with a specific mission of serving low- and moderate-income communities nationwide -- will receive funding to reach out to older adults struggling with debt and limited resources. Savings programs, low-interest loans, consumer counseling and debt-reduction plans will be offered as the “Creating a Path to Economic Security” campaign goes into action. Participating CDCUs will also be partnering with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and their nationwide network of “Economic Security Service Centers,” as well as other organizations that provide one-on-one counseling to help seniors regain their economic footing.
“Many older Americans who are struggling do not believe it’s possible to gain a measure of financial well being at their age,” explained Federation Senior Program Officer Melanie Stern, who leads the Federation program. “Some have been battered by debt, while others have been pummeled by rising prices, or preyed upon by so-called “payday” lenders and unscrupulous debt consolidation scammers. Our emphasis on economic security, offered at the local level by well-established, Federally-regulated, and consumer-friendly credit unions, could be a real ray of hope,” she explained.
Credit unions are not-for-profit banking institutions owned by their members -- their depositors -- that can make available consumer-friendly rates and services not feasible at for-profit financial institutions. The Atlantic Philanthropies is a foundation that works to put in place policies and programs that will create long-term benefits for disadvantaged populations.
“The Atlantic Philanthropies recognizes the value of credit unions to their communities,” explained Federation President/CEO, Clifford N. Rosenthal. “Their generous grant will allow us to help CDCUs serve older members in their communities who may be at risk of slipping further into poverty, but may not know there are resources available to help them.”
“Many credit unions already offer competitive loan and savings rates, as well as free checking accounts to their members,” Rosenthal elaborated. “Through this program, we’ll help the credit unions chosen for the pilot to tailor their services to low-income seniors and those approaching retirement age, as well as helping these institutions get the word out to other older adults who may never have realized now beneficial a credit union could be for them.”
“Community development credit unions are a natural choice for this pilot, given their one-on-one service to their members, often assisting individuals qualify for small loans or lines of credit that help them build assets while avoided high-interest loans offered by many predatory lenders,” explained Atlantic Philanthropies Program Executive Laura Robbins. “We are pleased that the goals expressed by the Federation so clearly reflect our own goals of working to advocate for long-term change.”
“The Creating a Path program will be built upon by translating its successes and lessons into tools for effecting advocacy and change. The Atlantic Philanthropies seeks to work on policies to help the aging become financially secure, so it is essential that barriers to financial health for vulnerable seniors be removed, and supportive measures be put in place,” Ms. Robbins added.
The Federation and the selected CDCUs will also be collaborating with several national organizations working with older adults in implementing the campaign and in disseminating information gleaned from it, including the National Council on Aging, the National Disability Institute and others.
“More than ever before older adults need a trusted partner in their community to help guide access to financial services," said Sandra Nathan, Vice President for Economic Security at the National Council on Aging. "NCOA is proud to partner with the Federation to ensure mature credit union members and vulnerable, low-income seniors receive the services and support needed to navigate these tough economic times. We look forward to working together to ensure credit union members have access to the critical benefits, employment and training, and health insurance counseling needed to get on a pathway to economic security.”
For further information about the Federation’s Serving Older Adults Program, contact Melanie Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 437-8711 x211.
About The Atlantic Philanthropies: The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic focuses on four critical social problems: Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam. To learn more, please visit: www.atlanticphilanthropies.org.
About NCOA: The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for millions of older adults -- especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged -- and the community organizations that serve them. NCOA brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, please visit: www.NCOA.org |www.facebook.com/NCOAging | www.twitter.com/NCOAging
© 2011 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.