CUNA Mutual Group, in collaboration with Inclusiv, today announces the launch of the Community Development Credit Union CDFI Awareness and Certification Campaign for credit unions. The program aims to educate credit unions not currently CDFI certified about the benefits of certification in serving members and local small businesses, and to create a network for existing CDFI credit unions to learn about and access additional resources.
Amid the economic downturn in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions) have acted as lifelines and provided much needed relief to communities hardest hit by this crisis, providing payment relief, Paycheck Protection Program loans, and emergency small dollar loans, among other measures. With Congress poised to deliver billions of dollars in additional resources to CDFIs, there has never been a better time for credit unions serving underserved and minority communities to participate in the CDFI Fund.
“We strongly support the expansion of CDFI-certified credit unions to help provide financial literacy and products to communities that are unserved, or underserved by traditional financial institutions,” said Larry Blanchard, CUNA Mutual Group corporate and legislative affairs consultant. “CDFI credit unions advance CUNA Mutual Group’s and credit unions’ commitment to inclusivity in serving people of modest means, whether in urban or rural communities.”
CUNA Mutual Group and Inclusiv have come together to facilitate credit unions’ access to the possible $12 billion for CDFIs and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) contained in the COVID-19 stimulus package that Congress is presently debating. To this end, Inclusiv will provide expertise, technical assistance, advocacy and resources to CDFI-certified, CDFI-eligible and MDI-designated credit unions seeking to participate in these programs.
“We believe more than 700 credit unions would be able to access and apply for such funds,” Blanchard said. “With the credit union system, Inclusiv and CUNA Mutual Group have aggressively lobbied for such legislation since the pandemic, and we urge Congress to pass the stimulus package.”
The U.S. Department of Treasury established the CDFI Fund in 1994 to provide resources to financial institutions delivering vital services to communities throughout the nation which have been overlooked by mainstream lenders and depositories.
There are currently more than 300 CDFI credit unions serving as “financial first responders” in their communities, said Inclusiv CEO Cathie Mahon. They are diverse, ranging in asset size from under $2 million to more than $10 billion. Collectively, CDFI credit unions manage more than $14 billion in community-controlled assets and serve more than 12 million consumers nationwide. The CDFI Fund recently awarded $45.8 million in grants to 111 credit unions, growing their outreach to communities that have been historically underserved by the financial mainstream.
“While our families and communities have experienced ongoing challenges this year, CDFIs continue to prove how vital they are to the health of underbanked communities and communities of color, acting as financial first responders in times of crisis,” said Mahon. “The CDFI Fund is the federal program best positioned to address the racial wealth divide and the current economic crisis facing our nation. This campaign will create a space for sharing knowledge and tools aimed at expanding certification among eligible credit unions and deepening engagement with CDFI target markets.”
As part of the awareness and certification campaign, Inclusiv will conduct an analysis of credit unions in target areas and provide technical assistance to credit unions interested in pursuing CDFI certification as well as to previously CDFI-certified credit unions whose certifications have lapsed. Inclusiv will be providing CDFI eligibility and certification services, along with training and technical assistance for CDFIs participating in the various CDFI Fund programs. Inclusiv is also hosting weekly learning sessions for credit unions that would like to learn more. Register here (opens in a new window) for more information.
For existing CDFI credit unions, Inclusiv will explore ways to help credit unions capitalize on their CDFI designation. Inclusiv will also engage CDFI credit unions in advocacy efforts for streamlined CDFI certification guidelines and additional funding to benefit credit unions.
About CUNA Mutual Group
Built on the principle of “people helping people,” CUNA Mutual Group is a financially strong insurance, investment and financial services company that believes a brighter financial future should be accessible to everyone. Through our company culture, community engagement, and products and solutions, we are working to create a more equitable financial system that helps to improve the lives of those we serve and our society. For more information, visit cunamutual.com.
At Inclusiv, we believe that true financial inclusion and empowerment is a fundamental right. We dedicate ourselves to closing the gaps and removing barriers to financial opportunities for people living in distressed and underserved communities. Inclusiv is a certified CDFI intermediary that transforms local progress into lasting national change. We provide capital, make connections, build capacity, develop innovative products and services and advocate for our member community development credit unions (CDCUs). Inclusiv members serve over ten million residents of low-income urban, rural and reservation-based communities across the US and hold over $112 billion in community-controlled assets. Founded in 1974, Inclusiv is headquartered in New York, NY, with offices in Madison, WI and Atlanta, GA. For more information about Inclusiv visit us at Inclusiv.org (opens in a new window) and connect with us on Facebook (opens in a new window), LinkedIn (opens in a new window) and Twitter (opens in a new window).
Inclusiv was instrumental in establishing the CDFI Fund in 1994, is a permanent member of the national CDFI Coalition and is the CDFI and community finance authority for the credit union industry. Our member CDCUs represent over 10 million members in low-income communities across the US, representing the majority of all CDFI-certified credit unions. Today, CDFI certification is an essential credential for credit unions with a focus on financial inclusion. Inclusiv is the credit union industry's best resource for learning more about certification and technical and financial assistance grants. For more information on our advocacy on behalf of CDFI credit unions, click here.