POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (12/31/12)--Bridgeway FCU in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has received a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Certification from the U.S Treasury.
The designation indicates Bridgeway FCU serves a vital role in its community's development and opens the door for future grant money to create positive changes for its low- to moderate-income "working-class" members, the credit union said.
The certification benefits Bridgeway FCU in three ways. It allows the credit union:
- To establish partners in the community, so it can assist with financial services. For example, if non-profits have clients who are struggling to pay their rent, Bridgeway can work with them to provide budget counseling to find ways to reduce their expenses. The credit union also can refer members to local non-profits for services outside the financial scope.
- To apply for funding to train all employees to become Community Development Certified Financial Counselors so staff can identify, intervene and coach distressed members.
- To apply for funding to develop specific lending products, such as micro-business loans. Bridgeway has already developed a "credit builder" loan and "down payment builder" loan--and has offered personal loans as alternatives to payday loans.
Bridgeway FCU's branch managers and frontline employees will complete financial counseling training, which starts in January. It then will develop additional partnerships with local non-profits to reach underbanked or underserved individuals.
"Since we are the only CDFI-certified financial institution in our area, individuals who need our resources will have greater access that comes along with the capacity building of CDFI certification and U.S. Treasury funding," Bridgeway FCU President/CEO Michelle McCourt said. "As a partner, we can achieve more together than operating individually. By combining our efforts with partners, we will enhance the financial and social well-being of our communities."
CU Strategic Planning assisted the credit union with its application.