FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY – (January 22, 2015) – Federation member Lower Valley Credit Union in Sunnyside, Washington has become the first Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance) designated credit union in Washington state. The Juntos Avanzamos designation is reserved for credit unions committed to serving and empowering Hispanic consumers. Juntos Avanzamos was developed by the Cornerstone Credit Union League for credit unions serving Hispanic consumers in Texas. The Federation is leading the national expansion of the program in partnership with a growing number of state leagues and associations across the country, including the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, the California and Nevada Credit Union League, and the Mountain West Credit Union Association.
Lower Valley is a Low Income Designated, CDFI certified credit union serving a majority Hispanic membership. To qualify for the Juntos Avanzamos designation, credit unions must demonstrate that they have flexible loan underwriting and CIP policies, offer affordable credit, savings and transaction services, and that they make their products, services and financial education accessible to Spanish-speakers.
The Lower Valley designation became official at a ceremony on January 19 in Sunnyside, where credit union President and CEO, Suzy Fonseca, Board Chairman, Cus Arteaga, and Troy Stang, President and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association, accepted the Juntos Avanzamos proclamation from Richard Romero, Federation board member and Seattle Metro Credit Union CEO. Guest Speakers included Congressman Dan Newhouse, Bryan Ketchum, Director of Catholic Charities Housing Services, Scott Butterfield of Your Credit Union Partner, and Alejandra Seluja of CU Breakthrough. Visit www.lvcu.org/juntos_avanzamos/ to learn more about the proclamation ceremony.
Suzy Fonseca described the personal significance of the Juntos Avanzamos designation, “Overcoming adversity is a way of life in our valley… Many of us, including myself, are first generation Americans. Many of us, including myself, were or are migrant farm workers. Many of us, including myself, grew up speaking Spanish, and many of us, including myself, are extremely proud of our humble upbringing. This designation serves as a beacon of hope for those of us that have been shut out of mainstream financial services. When we look in the mirror every morning we look into the eyes of our membership — we understand that we are them and they are us –nothing more and nothing less.”
“I can’t think of a better place to roll out this program in our great state than Lower Valley Credit Union. Suzy Fonseca and her team have demonstrated that as an industry we can do well by doing good. They have opened up the doors of opportunity to the Hispanic community and as a result, Lower Valley Credit Union has experienced phenomenal loan and share growth. Financial performance and impact can in fact go hand on hand,” said Richard Romero.
Troy Stang congratulated Lower Valley, “The Juntos Avanzamos program is one very important program bringing financial services to more American residents, seeing what immigrants and new Americans need to do to make sure they have the financial services these credit unions provide, being founded on the People Helping People philosophy.”
US Congressman, Dan Newhouse, expressed similar sentiments, “I congratulate Lower Valley Credit Union for the national recognition for outreach efforts to better serve the Yakima Valley. Being the first Pacific Northwest recipient of the ‘Juntos Avanzamos’ designation is a testament to the hard work they have done to keep up with and meet the needs of our community. This designation is very significant for many people moving to a new community, especially with a barrier such as language. Lower Valley Credit Union has for years worked to make sure that people have every advantage that they need to have to be successful. Recognizing that hard work is key for success in our community, our state, and our nation.”
“Lower Valley Credit Union embodies the spirit of this initiative. Through the national expansion of Juntos Avanzamos, we are seeking to build a community of credit unions committed to engaging, serving and empowering the Hispanic community in the US through innovative credit union services. We congratulate Suzy Fonseca and her team for their leadership in opening the doors of opportunity to the Hispanic and immigrant communities. We look forward to working with Lower Valley on expanding access to responsible financial services for all,” said Pablo DeFilippi, Federation VP of Membership.
The Federation, state leagues and industry partners, including Iowa-based, credit union consultant, Coopera, and the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, continue to collaborate on the expansion of the Juntos Avanzamos platform, connecting Hispanic consumers with credit unions committed and prepared to meet Hispanics’ financial needs. Credit unions interested in applying for the Juntos Avanzamos designation should contact Jason Chang, Federation Program Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Federation
The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is a certified CDFI Intermediary representing community development credit unions (CDCUs). The Federation’s member CDCUs provide credit, savings, transaction services and financial education to more than 4 million residents of low-income urban, rural and reservation-based communities across the US, and hold over $32.5 billion in community-controlled assets. Founded in 1974, the Federation is headquartered in Lower Manhattan with offices in Madison, WI. The Federation offers a wide range of advocacy, educational, training, investment, marketing, and outreach programs to support and assist CDCUs. For more information about the Federation and its programs, please visit www.cdcu.coop.
About Lower Valley Credit Union
Lower Valley Credit Union is a $100 million, Low Income Designated, CDFI certified credit union deeply rooted in Washington State’s Lower Yakima Valley. Founded in 1958 and headquartered in Sunnyside, the credit union also operates branches in Prosser and Grandview. LVCU is dedicated to serving the needs of its community and growing membership of over 13,000 strong through following its vision of ‘Planting Seeds of Opportunity for a Better Tomorrow’.
About Northwest Credit Union Association
The Northwest Credit Union Association is the not-for-profit trade association representing over 157 of Oregon and Washington’s credit unions. Northwest credit unions returned $352 million in direct financial benefits to their 5.2 million members last year. The NWCUA is the voice of the Northwest credit union movement, providing legislative, regulatory and public advocacy in addition to education, compliance, networking support and business solutions to credit unions. For information on how to join a credit union, please visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org.