(July 20 2011 – New York, NY) The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) has announced $240,000 in grants to eight community development credit unions (CDCUs) nationwide that will that will be working to enhance the economic security of their low income older members and the disadvantaged aging in their communities. The eight CDCUs -- credit unions with a specific mission of serving low- and moderate-income communities nationwide -- will receive the 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 “Economic Security for the Low-Income Aging” campaign goes into action. Participating CDCUs will also be partnering with local economic security sites that provide one-on-one counseling to help seniors regain their economic footing who will receive a total of $80,000 in grants from the Federation.
According to Senior Program Officer Melanie Stern, who leads the Federation program, the CDCUs selected for this pilot are a natural choice 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. “Low-income seniors 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.
The “Creating a Path” program is funded by the New York-based Atlantic Philanthropies, through its Aging Program, which seeks to help vulnerable seniors become financially secure and advancing supportive measures by effecting long-term change. Winning proposals came from credit unions from across the country, from Chicago to Virginia; ranging in size from less than $1 million in assets to over more than $250 million in assets; and serving various types of communities including urban and rural areas. Selected applicants featured a variety of innovative product offerings to assist older adults struggling with their finances, and partnership ideas to leverage existing resources in their communities.
Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal commented on the initiative and why CDCUs are a natural choice for assisting aging populations become more economically secure. “Many credit unions already offer competitive loan and savings rates, as well as free checking accounts to their members, but through this program, we will help the credit unions chosen for the pilot to tailor their existing services to low-income seniors and those approaching retirement age. Additionally, we will help these institutions develop partnerships to get the word out to other older adults who may never have realized now beneficial a credit union could be for them.”
The Federation and the selected CDCUs will 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 (NCOA), the National Disability Institute (NDI) and others.
Economic Security for the Low-Income Aging Grants Recipients:
Cooperative Federal Credit Union: ($17,002,423 in assets and 3,284 members)
Cooperative Federal CU is a community development credit union serving the “urban core” of Syracuse, New York. They will be partnering with Catholic Charities to provide intensive financial education and counseling to underserved aging populations along with transactional services, savings accounts and loans with built-in savings components.
East River Development Alliance Federal Credit Union: ($102,419 in assets and 490members)
The East River Development Alliance FCU (ERDA FCU) serves residents of four public housing developments in Western Queens – Queensbridge (the largest public housing community in the nation), Astoria, Ravenswood, and Woodside. ERDA FCU will be working with their partner agency, the East River Development Alliance, to develop a “Senior Saver Campaign” offering a senior savings product; an important gateway product to build a relationship and to introduce financial counseling at account opening where all asset-building and loan products will be discussed, with a special emphasis on loans for credit building; free direct deposit (most often used for their social security checks); free automated NYCHA rent payment; free identity theft protection service by reviewing the member’s credit report; and free ERDA FCU accounts for up to three grandchildren.
Fairfax County Federal Credit Union: ($238,530,733 in assets and 16,617 members)
Located in Fairfax County, Virginia, Fairfax County FCU (FCFCU) will partner with the Virginia Workforce Resource Center, an NCOA Economic Security Site, to create and implement a comprehensive program of mutually beneficial services that offers this population access to the credit union’s affordable financial products and services and, through the Virginia Workforce Resource Center, access to the full spectrum of public services and benefits available. FCFCU plans on offering a range of products and services such as one-on-one counseling and financial education workshops, and will be customizing their existing and creating new products and services to create opportunities for seniors to save, borrow, build credit, reduce debt; as well as providing them information to help them avoid fraud and other scams.
Holy Rosary Credit Union: ($9,230,480 in assets and 2,740 members)
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Holy Rosary CU serves seven Catholic parishes and a community senior center. For this program, the credit union will partner with their long-standing partner, the Don Bosco Senior Center, to provide financial education and financial counseling to the Center’s senior population and offer enhanced savings accounts, and credit builder loans. The goal is to arm seniors with the information they need and link them with responsible products to help them become economically secure.
Mid-Cities Financial Credit Union: ($26,000,000 in assets and 5,495 members)
Mid-Cities Financial CU currently serves the low income communities of Compton, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Carson, Lynwood, Norwalk and Paramount California. Mid-Cities will be partnering with Los Angeles County office of Community and Senior Services, an NCOA Economic Security Site, as well as the Insight Center for Community Economic Develoment. They plan on creating an Educational Website that will offer visitors to the site retirement planning information in a variety of formats to fit different learning styles and needs, including articles, audio, calculators, interactive coaches and much more, a new series of short courses. Short courses are 12-13 minute presentations that members can access any time. They will also offer education booklets, branch seminars, community seminars.
North Side Community Federal Credit Union: ($10,000,000 in assets and 3,200 members)
North Side Community FCU (NSCFCU) is community development financial institution and HUD-certified housing counseling agency with over 50 Select Employee Group and community partners. Their field of membership spans five communities in the Chicago area: Lakeview, Uptown, Edgewater, Ravenswood and Rogers Park. NSCFCU’s anchor partner is the Rogers Park Community Council. The Federation’s grant will provide the credit union with the opportunity to focus on marketing and community outreach efforts; on building new relationships, promoting new product offerings, and developing financial programs for low-income older – and potential new – members. They will provide affordable, easy-to-access, and competitive savings vehicles for seniors in the community with a range of products; a senior saver club account, a Seniors Borrow and Save loan, and a Senior Saver CD.
Opportunities Credit Union: ($33,203,307 in assets and 10,459 members)
Opportunities CU is based in Burlington, Vermont. They are partnering with the Association of Africans Living in Vermont. Opportunities will both expand their current financial products and services and launch some new products, building on their current network of partners to leverage local social service agencies in providing casework and counseling to older adults as part of a SENIOR POWER PATH program. Some of the products and services they plan on offering are; revolving loan pool of low cost, small loans for emergency and personal loans, affordable Refund Anticipation Loan, and a “Senior Financial Safety” curriculum developed by the Institute for Financial Literacy as part of the financial counseling and educational support needed to assist seniors in developing budgets, action plans and building financial management skills.
Pyramid Federal Credit Union: ($76,886,488 in assets and 8,198 members)
Pyramid FCU is located in Tucson, Arizona. Pyramid will partner with United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, an NCOA Economic Security Site. Pyramid will be working with their partner to promote economic security for the aging. They will provide a range of products and services that include debt consolidation loans, benefits fairs, payday alternative loans, and retirement savings planning.
For more information about the Federation’s Economic Security for the Low-Income Aging Program, contact Melanie Stern, Senior Program Officer, 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. Programs 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. It 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.