Contact: Rafael Morales, Communications Officer
212-809-1850 ext. 206
(January 31, 2006 – New Orleans, LA) Officials of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (the Federation) delivered more than $280,000 in aid to credit unions and their supporters in a ceremony at the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans on January 27, 2006.
The Federation’s Executive Director Cliff Rosenthal and Capitalization Program Director Alice Greenwald presented checks to TCA (Total Community Action) FCU, UNO (University of New Orleans) FCU, and ASI FCU, as well as the African-American Credit Union Coalition, which has organized a mentorship and technical assistance initiative to support affected credit unions.
To date, the Federation has raised more than $700,000 for its Community Development Relief and Rebuilding Fund. Contributions were raised from Federation staff and board members and CDCU supporters across the country, along with major donations from the National Credit Union Foundation; the Jewish Funds for Justice, in partnership with the UJA Federation of New York; and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The first awards were disbursed earlier in January to two credit unions in Alabama, Prichard FCU and Coastal Waters FCU.
“Credit unions are a vital part of the financial infrastructure of any community, and in the wake of disaster, they can literally be a lifeline for low-income people” said Rosenthal. “Our goal is to help the affected credit unions return to health as quickly as possible, so they can in turn help their members rebuild their lives.” Recipients will use their awards to address a variety of needs -- from reconstruction costs, to computer and technology purchases, to management assistance.
While most of the awards were grants, the Federation also provided a seven-year secondary-capital loan to ASI FCU, an 80,000-member institution that is one of the largest CDCUs in the country. Secondary capital, which counts as regulatory net worth for low-income credit unions, is deeply subordinated debt that remains at risk until maturity. “We accept that risk, because we believe deeply in ASI and its leadership,” said Greenwald. “We urge other institutions to invest, as well.”
The program included addresses by Louisiana Credit Union League president Anne Cochran, who was recently named one of the Top 50 Women of the year by CityBusiness of New Orleans; Don Hutchinson, director of the New Orleans Department of Economic Development; Amanda Joseph of Jewish Funds for Justice; and ASI board president Mignhon Tourné. Rhoda Hundley accepted the award for TCA FCU, Chris Maurer for UNO FCU, Audrey Cerise for ASI FCU, and Helen Godfrey-Smith for the African-American Credit Union Coalition.
Amanda Joseph spoke briefly at the reception, detailing her organization’s support of the Federation’s Community Development Relief & Rebuilding Fund.
“At the Jewish Funds for Justice our commitment to this region is part of a long-term strategy guided by our values and our pledge to create a more just society for all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity or class,” explained Joseph, “We are honored to support the Federation in your work and to join you in our small way in the rebuilding of this great city and region.”
Earlier in the day, a Federation delegation visited TCA FCU, which saw its offices and equipment entirely destroyed by the flood waters. Federation staff also toured vast areas of New Orleans that were hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina and the breech of the levees protecting the city (see related story and photos).
Individuals and organizations interested in contributing directly to low-income credit unions and CDCUs can contact the Federation’s Capitalization Department, or by clicking here.
Signs calling for solidarity among the community greet vehicles making their way downtown. Right: Even the payday lenders have been forced to close-up shop.