When asked what drives him as senior vice president of community development at Freedom First Credit Union in Roanoke, Va., Dave Prosser recalls a moment during a strategic planning session when President/CEO Paul Phillips asked participants, “If the credit union dissolved that day, what would people miss in its absence?”
Some of Prosser’s initiatives would be sorely missed, particularly Freedom First Enterprises, a 501(c)(3) organization where Prosser is executive director. It supports community development by providing safe, alternative financial services to low-income consumers.
“It’s important for us as a community development financial institution to serve markets that are otherwise marginalized,” he says. “It’s a way for us to fulfill needs within the community, and it opens a lot of doors for us as a credit union.”
Another example is the $654 million asset credit union’s workforce development loan program. Many licensure and certification training programs don’t qualify for financial assistance because they don’t offer degrees.
Freedom First offers loans that cover tuition, school supplies, and reliable transportation.
This summer, the credit union will partner with Roanoke to establish the city as a Financial Empowerment Center. The goal is to provide financial literacy and stability as a public service to local residents.
“We’re a collaborative organization,” Prosser says. “We can move quickly and help people solve issues in the community.”
Another project is a cross-industry initiative called Local Impact for Tomorrow (LIFT), which will transform part of a local school into a community health center for students and their families.
It’s another example of Freedom First filling a void in the community.
“My biggest motivator is getting into a space where others would not typically go,” Prosser says.