Credit unions work to move communities forward LGTBQ + | 2021-06-29

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As credit unions strive to advance the communities they serve, they also seek opportunities to demonstrate that they are part of those same communities. With June being Pride Month, several credit unions used CUNA’s Advancing Communities portal to share their stories of service to the LGBTQ + community.

FirstLight FCU, El Paso, Texas, has been dedicated to telling the stories of employees, members and the community, which is why they launched their PRIDE story video series to highlight LGBTQ + employees.

“Our employees have really embraced the concept; we thought we would get one or two answers, but we got a plethora of them, ”said Sidney Alvarez, creative strategist and storyteller at FirstLight. “By encouraging our employees to share their story, we want to engage not only with them, but also with the community around us, including the LGBTQ + community and its allies.”

Alvarez said FirstLight believes in the importance of looking inside to see what’s going on outside, as employees also live in the community.

“FirstLight wants to put the spotlight back on our community, and our members are the community,” he said. “We want to show that we are part of the fabric of this community as we can, whether it’s through initiatives like this, financial literacy events, community initiatives, sponsorships or just doing volunteering. “

Alternatives FCU, in Ithaca, NY, has worked with underserved members since its inception 42 years ago, says Reiley Schoen, director of operations, and continues to benefit members through community partnerships.

Alternatives worked with Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes for their TransAction Financial Empowerment Program, which provides term loans and lines of credit at special rates for transgender and non-binary members seeking access to care and support. services.

“Our management team thought this was a great program to offer, especially knowing how expensive these services can be and the risks of predatory lenders,” said Schoen. “It won’t cover the whole process, but it’s a stepping stone, and it’s designed to be affordable; we don’t want to charge a huge price for someone to experience their real self.

The design of the program involved mutual training between the staff of Alternatives and Planned Parenthood who worked to make both more comfortable. Credit union staff learned how to create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, while Planned Parenthood staff learned about reasonably priced loan products, community development education, and access to services.

While developing the program, Alternatives was able to secure a grant of $ 23,000 for the NCUA’s Under-Served Awareness Initiative program.

“I am grateful to our management team for initiating this program. They said they would have done it with or without the NCUA grant, ”Schoen said. “This is the kind of thing I would like to see repeated across the country.

Schoen encouraged credit unions to look at underserved groups in their communities and work to tailor products and services to meet their unique needs.

“This program aligns with Alternatives’ focus on filling the gaps in our community, whether it’s supporting women and minority-owned businesses, financial education programs for children or to work with people coming out of prison to give them a solid financial base, ”mentioned. “We’re constantly looking to see who we can help in our little corner of the world.”



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