news.cuna.org/articles/118272-education-leads-immigrant-outreach-efforts
Gloria Escobar

Education leads immigrant outreach efforts

Gloria Escobar of Greylock Federal builds trust in the community.

August 31, 2020

As a longtime advocate for Latino and immigrant communities, Gloria Escobar is a perfect fit for the newly created position of financial wellness Latinx outreach coach at $1.4 billion asset Greylock Federal Credit Union in Pittsfield, Mass.

Credit Union Magazine: Why is it important for Greylock to strengthen its relationships within the Latinx community?

Gloria Escobar: Greylock is a community credit union. We’re focused on the needs and drives of people to succeed. We’re living and working with the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Everyone is welcome at Greylock, no matter their skin color, the language they speak, or their immigration status.

Q: How has your professional and volunteer experience prepared you for this new role?

A: We are embracing the Latinx community in different ways—not only with their financial issues.

I represent Greylock with a local organization, Berkshires Advocacy and Support for the Immigrant Community, which provides connections to health care, education, immigration and citizenship support, and more. This keeps me up to date with opportunities.

I’m also on the board of Community Health Programs and Berkshire Immigrant Center. These are important collaborations.

I’ve been taking English classes since I came to the U.S. 20 years ago. I encourage my members to do the same.

Q: What areas of focus will you prioritize?

A: Education is the most important issue for immigrants. We have classes on how to open accounts, build credit, and pay off debt. Everything is available in Spanish.

We receive many questions about online banking. In many Latin American countries, people use cash for everything, rarely using banking services. It’s difficult for many people to use online banking technology, so we created a class en español to teach members how to use the service.

Trust is also important. We don’t wait for potential members to come here. We go into the community and provide education. Banking can be scary for immigrants. We build trust before they come to our offices.

Q: How do you create that trust?

A: I talk about my experience. I came from Colombia without speaking English or any knowledge of banking. I tell people that’s OK, and that Greylock is a great place to build a future.

Q: What products do you provide for the immigrant community?

A: We provide loans that help immigrants build credit by allowing them to make affordable payments.

At Greylock, members can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) at no charge. We save people a lot of money—an attendee at one of my classes told me he paid $700 to apply for the number elsewhere.

We help people apply for loans using the ITIN. I’m also an ITIN accepting agent.

Q: What skills do you need for this role?

A: I talk to people with my heart. People can feel that I’m honest and sincere, and they refer others to me as someone they can trust.

Q: How important is Greylock’s Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance) designation?

A: It’s huge. People think of Greylock as the Latinos’ credit union. Juntos Avanzamos also provides me with education I can share with the community. At the annual conference, I learn so much. I come back full of ideas for new projects and new goals.

Q: What advice do you have for reaching out to Latinx and immigrant communities?

A: It’s no secret that the Hispanic population is growing. Get to know your community and people’s needs. Partner with other organizations so you can support each other’s efforts. Have bilingual employees because immigrants are always looking for somebody who speaks the same language. Finally, develop products and services that will benefit and empower immigrants.