Grants and other awards from the Treasury Department are essential for Community Development Financial Institution (CDFIs) credit unions to serve their communities. Those credit unions are using CUNA’s Member Activation Program (MAP) to tell their CDFI stories.
MAP helps credit unions educate their employees or members about credit union issues and activates them to call on lawmakers through the use of customizable email templates and other tools.
The Treasury’s CDFI Fund provides makes capital grants, equity investments and awards for technical assistance to certified CDFIs. The fund has been zeroed out in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
As of Feb. 28, there are 294 credit unions out of a total of 1,088 certified CDFIs.
St. Louis Community CU, St. Louis, is one such credit union. It leveraged an $849,000 grant from the CDFI Fund into $22.7 million in auto loans through its Sure Rides Program.
St. Louis Community used MAP last week to reach out to its members. In the email, Director of Advocacy Michael O’Brien pointed to Sure Rides as just one example of what can be done with CDFI funds.
“Good-paying jobs are essential for bringing resources into households. By providing more affordable access to reliable transportation, the potential economic impact of the Sure Rides program is staggering,” he wrote. “Sure Rides is just one example of how CDFIs are using the essential resources available through the CDFI Fund to serve the most economically distressed communities in the nation. To further increase the economic impact we are generating, a sustainable CDFI Fund is essential.”
Russ Dalke, president/CEO of Northern Colorado CU, Greeley, Colo., used MAP to note that his credit union is planning to seek CDFI funds to assist its young adult financial education efforts.
“The net worth we have saved over the last 80 years helps to protect us from unknown economic conditions, but it not enough to do the extra work that needs to done in the way of financial literacy,” he wrote. “We had hoped that becoming a CDFI would help us achieve that goal. But now our goals and objectives are in danger of being eliminated.”
Vocal CU, Helena, Mont., recently became a certified CDFI, and is currently in the process of completing a grant application.
“Our grant includes a financial education component for our staff to become certified financial counselors and has a financial education piece and reward program for members,” wrote Vocal President/CEO Eddie Black.
Meijer CU, Grand Rapids, Mich., is currently pursuing CDFI certification, and President/CEO Cathy Ellis says the credit union hopes to apply for grants to help offset some of the risks taken on while serving the underserved and unbanked.
CUNA strongly supports a fully funded CDFI Fund, and has written to House and Senate appropriators and launched an action alert to urge credit unions and their members to contact policymakers. CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle issued a special edition Nussle Report Wednesday regardging the CDFI Fund.