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Grant to charter first Latino CU in Ohio
SOUTH TOLEDO, Ohio (1/26/09)--The Ohio Credit Union Foundation (OCUF) is leveraging a $69,500 Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to charter a community development credit union for Latinos in northwest Ohio.
With its startup partially funded by an Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Community CU plans to open for business in this building in June. (Photo provided by Ohio Credit Union Foundation)
Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Community CU has applied to the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions for a state charter. If the charter is granted, it would be the first new state-chartered credit union in Ohio in more than 20 years. The credit union could open in June. Nueva Esperanza would reach a Latino population that has more than doubled since the 2000 Census. More than 50% of area households are classified as “low-income” or “extremely low-income,” which points out the need within the community for basic financial services and affordable credit, said OCUF Executive Director Becky Hart. This is the 12th of 14 NCUF Innovation Grants implemented this year. Innovation Grants are supported by NCUF and members of corporate credit unions who invest in the Community Investment Fund (CIF). Nueva Esperanza will focus on financial education, budgeting, basic savings, simple lending, credit counseling and money transfers. It would open with two bilingual employees, then staff up to four bilingual employees the next year. “The Latino community is currently using a branch bank that offers no specific programs for small depositors and charges fees for basic services such as money orders,” according to Barry Shaner, CEO of Directions CU. Based in nearby Sylvania, Ohio, Directions CU is helping organizers of the new credit union. “It is our understanding that area residents do not trust a financial institution that they don’t perceive to be an integral participant in the community.” Nueva Esperanza’s mission will be “empowering the Latino community by promoting savings, increasing financial literacy among low-wealth and often unbanked Latino households, making loan capital available, and promoting community resources.” OCUF is partnering with Toledo-area credit unions and community representatives who have laid the building blocks for the new credit union during the past several years. They include:
* Viva South Toledo Community Development Corp., which purchased the building where the new credit union will operate. Viva South Toledo will relocate its headquarters into the same facility. It will provide members with housing assistance and other social services to complement the new credit union’s financial services; * Directions CU, which will provide operational staff and all data processing services, terminals, software, recordkeeping and accounting support; * Area Financial Services, a technology credit union service organization owned by five Toledo-area credit unions, will oversee Nueva Esperanza’s back-office operations; and * Latino Alliance of Greater Toledo, which will help grow and sustain membership in the new credit union.
The Ohio Credit Union League and its Northwest Chapter will continue to serve as planning advisors and provide additional resources including education and training for the new credit union’s board and staff. “Access to basic financial services is a necessity in every community,” said Jennifer Ferguson, president of the Northwest Chapter and CEO of Bay Area CU in Oregon, Ohio. “The credit union presence in South Toledo will help residents achieve financial literacy, establish credit, grow savings, and possibly even realize the dream of homeownership. All of this will go a long way toward stabilizing families and building community pride. We know from working together on this project that the strengthening of South Toledo and its residents must come from within.”
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