Mark Cummins, president/CEO of Minnesota Credit Union Network and Foundation, appeared alongside Debra Hurston, executive director of the Association for Black Economic Power, to discuss their capital drive support to black-led de novo credit union.
Hurston told the story how the Village Financial Credit Union in North Minneapolis came about. North Minneapolis is known as “ground zero” after the deaths of George Floyd and Philando Castile. The community in the surrounding area was “fed up” with the injustices with the legal and economic systems.
“North Minneapolis is riddled with payday lenders,” said Hurston. “The population ends up in a never-ending cycle of debt. They felt abandoned by traditional banking systems.”
This became “the birth” of the credit union and creation of the Association for Black Economic Power. She went into depth on her leading the charter and the “overwhelming” challenges she faced along the way. Luckily, Hurston got in contact with Cummins and MnCUN.
“This just fits within our value set,” said Cummins. “What we’re trying to, from a foundation perspective, is raise a million dollars in capital for Village Financial.”
Jeff Olson, president/CEO, Dakota Credit Union Association and Eric Berg, co-founder/president NetGiver talked about their “unique” joint venture.
“This came about a South Dakota tax battle,” said Berg, describing the story of CU Social Good, founded in 2013 as a digital platform where people can share their credit union stories.
“We think this partnership completes the circle,” he added.
NetGiver is a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO). It is a mobile application that allows users to donate to charities of their choice, without fees, sponsored by their credit unions.
“The story plus the data plus the numbers is all going to be part of what’s coming in the future. There’s a little bit of that now. In the future we’ll be able to add to that,” said Berg about development and launch within the second quarter this year.
Troy Stang, president/CEO, Northwest Credit Union Association, gave an update on potential merger with Mountain West Association (MWCUA).
“What we’ve been able to pilot in the northwest with Oregon, Washington and Idaho, to get the credit unions align to report this sort of data, to be able tell their stories in a unique way to elected officials. This is sort of the groundwork and proactive work, I believe, has got to be done day in and day out, if you’re going to tell a strong advocacy story,” said Stang.
Conversations on exploring a merger between NWCUA and MWCUA came about from the retirement of Scott Earl, president/CEO of MWCUA. Stang also placed an emphasis on the “cultural alignment” between both associations.
Cornerstone League President/CEO Caroline Willard spoke on the amplification of CUNA’s Financial Well-Being for All initiative and her participation in African Confederation of Co-Operative Savings and Credit Associations (ACCOSCA) Climb Africa program.
“Look around, see who’s already something great and then amplify that. Maybe repackage it a little bit. But let’s not duplicate effort. Let’s make sure we’re tapping into the great things that are already out there,” explained Willard on how Leagues can take the concept of financial Well-Being for All and apply it to the movement.
Willard brought along a vest from the ACCOSCA efforts with Climb Africa sharing she, alongside a few dozen others, will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in October.