(May 4, 2011 – New York, NY) Martin Eakes, the long-time community development credit union (CDCU) leader and founder of the Durham, North Carolina-based Self-Help Credit Union, the Center for Community Self-Help, the consumer advocacy Center for Responsible Lending, and most recently, the fast-growing Self-Help Federal Credit Union in California, has just been named a Ford Foundation Visionary, a new award that recognizes innovators whose “extraordinary vision and courageous work, are improving the lives of millions of people.”
|Self-Help CU Founder/CEO Martin Eakes
According to the Ford Foundation, the Visionaries Awards seek to raise the profile of leaders whose innovative efforts on the frontlines of key social issues offer pathways to improved economic opportunities and expanded political and social participation for millions of marginalized people worldwide.
Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation explained the purpose of the new awards, which were created to coincide with the foundation’s 75th anniversary. “Through these awards, we want to highlight the unheralded work of thousands of courageous leaders whose lives are devoted to improving systems and institutions so that all people have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives,” Ubiñas said. “These 12 individuals represent the courage, commitment, and innovative thinking of all the remarkable people who work on the frontlines of social change.”
Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal commended the Ford Foundation on their selection of Eakes. “Martin has been a long-time member, colleague and ally of the Federation,” he said, “What he and his staff have built in North Carolina has grown into one of the most sophisticated community development financial institutions in the nation. With community development credit unions operating on both coasts; a multi-billion dollar affordable mortgage secondary market; and a respected consumer advocacy arm helping to combat insidious predatory lenders nationwide, he has single-handedly done more for low-income people in 30 years than many of us could hope to accomplish in a lifetime.”
A national leader in the fight against abusive financial practices—predatory home loans, payday lending, and exorbitant checking and credit card fees—that target poor people and trap them in cycles of poverty. Self-Help, the groundbreaking community development lending institution that Eakes founded in 1980, reaches low-income families underserved by conventional financial institutions. Over the years Self-Help has provided more than $5.95 billion of financing to over 71,000 families of modest means, small businesses and nonprofit organizations across the country, and serves more than 80,000 members through 28 branches in California and North Carolina. Standing in direct contrast to the predatory financial products that played a central role in the financial crisis, Self-Help’s work demonstrates the importance of responsible and affordable financial products in helping low-income people achieve economic security.
“Martin is most deserving of this recognition, and the Federation and our member CDCUs are proud to stand beside him and count him among our own,” added Rosenthal.
To learn more about the Ford Foundation’s Visionary Awards and to see the full list of winners, go to: http://www.fordfoundation.org/about-us/visionaries-awards/.
© 2011 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.