WASHINGTON (4/24/08)--Credit unions and their partners are eligible to apply for new “Innovation Grants” from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The grants align with NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions. While participation in REAL Solutions is not required to apply for a grant, NCUF seeks applications for innovative projects in any of REAL Solutions’ five service areas:
* Education. Grants can assist credit unions participating in national financial education programs including Biz Kid$, Junior Achievement, and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), or support initiatives consistent with the education components of REAL Solutions: financial counseling, product awareness, and staff training. * Transaction Services. The grants can support credit unions with programs to provide check-cashing, money orders, remittances, fee-free checking, tax preparation, and other services to attract underserved consumers. * Savings. They can support programs that promote savings awareness, offer low membership fees, provide safe accounts for new immigrants, and help members with low wealth establish long-term savings. * Credit. The grants can support credit unions offering small loans--including payday-loan alternatives, used-car loans that help low-wealth members reach better jobs or higher education--and internal projects such as revising loan policies and building staff awareness to serve people of modest means better. * Homeownership. Grants can support credit unions offering Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) mortgages, homeownership counseling, and services that help members with lower credit scores become first-time homebuyers. Although credit unions were not the cause of the subprime mortgage crisis, Innovation Grants can support credit unions’ efforts as part of the solution. For example, grants could help fund foreclosure prevention and affordable refinancing of subprime mortgages.
Applications are due to NCUF by June 30. The amount of grant money available will depend on how much credit unions invest in the Community Investment Fund (CIF). Credit unions interested in investing can contact NCUF or their corporate credit union.