Mark Cummins
Mark Cummins, president/CEO, Minnesota Credit Union Network

De novo CU supports inclusion

Village Financial Credit Union aims to stem economic inequities.

March 23, 2022

The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation’s capital drive to support a Black-led de novo credit union epitomizes the spirit of financial well-being for all—as well as an opportunity to move a community faced with many economic and social challenges forward, according to Mark Cummins, foundation president and president/CEO at the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).

“This is about what’s going on right now,” Cummins says. “It’s about a community looking to stem economic inadequacies and how Minnesota credit unions can help them achieve a solution. We’re in this because it’s the right thing to do.”

The foundation has established a special fund for donations to support Village Financial Credit Union, which is being established under the leadership of the Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP), which was organized to develop the credit union. The foundation has a fundraising goal of $1 million.

Cummins notes ABEP is not a sponsoring organization and as such doesn’t bring legacy capital to the project as in most instances with de novo institutions.

“But it fits with everything we as credit unions are trying to do: create a more diverse membership, foster financial inclusion—everything that fits under that umbrella of financial well-being for all,” Cummins says. “We’ve almost dedicated the equivalent of a full-time employee to move this effort forward. There’s hardly anyone on our staff who hasn’t touched this project.”

‘It fits with everything we as credit unions are trying to do.’
Mark Cummins

Credit unions throughout Minnesota are also working on the project.

“Advisory groups are working together on different elements of the project,” Cummins says. “A marketing group includes marketing professionals from credit unions throughout the state. There is a regulatory group that's looking at the policies and procedures that need to go into the application process. We're also working with the state regulator to ensure we're moving in the right direction.”

Financial Well-Being For All

One credit union has donated an employee as a project manager for the initiative, he adds.

State credit unions have pledged about $500,000 to the project, says Andrea Molnau, MNCUN’s vice president of communications and engagement. Ultimately, Village Financial Credit Union will need roughly $6 million in seed money to get off the ground. 

The foundation also seeks donations from credit unions and system partners outside of the state, as well as individual donations, she adds. “In addition to capital fundraising, we’re promoting pledges for deposits.”