Launch International Year of Coops, NYC Coop Year Campaign & Teach-in at The New School
(November 8, 2011 – New York, NY) New York City was the site of a series of local and international events that highlighted the growing importance of cooperatives in finance, social development, and poverty alleviation, and community development credit unions (CDCUs) have been stepping up to promote the credit union model and philosophy.
Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal (left) with CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney at the United Nations for the Oct. 31 announcement by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.
UN International Year of Coops
On Monday, October 31, the United Nations officially inaugurated 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC), which coincides with a campaign to highlight environmental sustainability. As many as 300 representatives of cooperatives from 52 countries observed as the official delegates of 19 member states of the United Nations delivered addresses in support of the IYC.
Prominently featured during the inauguration was Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal attended the UN ceremonies along with CUNA President & CEO Bill Cheney.
Building a Cooperative City
On Tuesday, November 1, the Federation convened a seminar at the Ford Foundation, entitled New York: Building a Cooperative City. Rosenthal, the lead organizer for the event, noted that as many as 1.5 million New Yorkers are members of at least one cooperative. Representatives of credit unions, food, housing, and worker cooperatives spoke, along with a panel of under-30 cooperative activists.
“One area that is especially exciting is the upsurge in new co-op development. We heard the stories of immigrant women banding together to form green housecleaning, childcare, elder care, and other cooperatives and gaining a sense of dignity through their collective work,” Rosenthal said.
ICA Director-General Charles Gould and President Pauline Green opened and closed the seminar, which also included remarks by Bill Cheney, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), which represents the great majority of the 7,500 credit unions nationwide, who serve more than 90 million Americans. “One of the take-aways,” Rosenthal said, “was the magnitude of the cooperative movement worldwide: nearly 1 billion people, with total revenue estimated to be $1.6 trillion.”
At the event, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn presented a proclamation declaring November 1 Cooperatives Day in New York City.
To learn more about the "Building a Cooperative City" launch event, please see our press release by clicking here.
The Lower East Side Celebrates 25 Years of CDCU Service
On Thursday evening, November 3, the Lower East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union (LESPFCU) celebrated its 25th anniversary with a community gala. The credit union, which was formed to provide financial services to a low-income New York City neighborhood that had been deserted by mainstream banks, has grown to nearly $30 million in assets with a membership of approximately 6,000 low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.
At the celebration, LESPFCU honored Cliff Rosenthal, who helped organize the CDCU in 1986, as well as Occupy Wall Street, which selected LESPFCU as its first depository institution, when it started collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations at the movement’s birthplace in Manhattan’s Financial District.
On Saturday, NBC Nightly News featured LESPFCU in its nationally-televised segment on Bank Transfer Day. That video is available below.
The credit union’s action in honoring Occupy Wall Street had prompted the withdrawal of Goldman Sachs, which had pledged financial support and had served on the host committee for the celebration. The Wall Street Journal and other national media reported on the company’s action.
The festive evening, which brought together hundreds of community members, social investors, and public officials, featured a keynote speech by Errol T. Louis, host of the popular nightly television show, Inside City Hall. Louis, formerly a widely acclaimed columnist for the New York Daily News, worked at the Federation through much of the 1980s and 1990s, and was also an organizer of a CDCU in central Brooklyn.
Discussing The New Economy at The New School
The week’s activities concluded with a teach-in at New York City’s New School University on Friday evening, which addressed the financial crisis and the responsible alternatives that are available to consumers. Speakers included Rosenthal; LESPFCU CEO Linda Levy; Annie McShiras of the Responsible Endowments Coalition; and Kevin McQueen, Assistant Director, Community Development Finance Lab at The New School.