SAN FRANCISCO (1/26/11)--Mission SF FCU, a community development credit union (CDCU) in San Francisco, is appealing for help to avoid a merger, according to a press release. The credit union, one of two independent CDCUs remaining in California serving a predominately Latino community, was hit hard by the economic downturn and it must raise $200,000. Half of that is due Feb. 15, and the second $100,000 is due March 15. "Mission SF is determined to avoid a merger and continue to offer the vital and unique services it has provided to its members and the community for over 40 years," said the credit union in a press release. Formed in the Mission District by Latino immigrants in 1971, Mission SF served as an entry point to the mainstream financial services for new immigrants with financial education, basic financial services and loans. It now serves the children and grandchildren of many of its founders. "Mission SF has a critical role to play in the Mission District's recovery from the hardest and longest economic downturn in our lifetimes," said board Chairman Leslie Chard. "Through credit-building loans, financial counseling, youth services, microloans for business, personal loans and auto loans, Mission SF offers a menu of services that can help bring new hope and opportunities for prosperity and cooperation," Chard said, adding the credit union "needs an angel, someone who believes in what we are doing and can offer us the hand we have offered so many families." In recent years, The $6.7 million asset Mission SF expanded its reach to include additional underserved and unbanked members. It responded to an increase in predatory fringe payday lender/check casher outlets during the 1990s by securing an Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation to launch a payday alternative loan program. Mission SF's program served as a blueprint for the city's PaydayPlusSF product, which received national attention. Its youth and child program provided young people with financial education and its youth model is a finalist in the Center for Financial Services Innovation's national Innovation Fund grant program. A grant would support its initiative to expand services to the Mayor's Youth Employment and Education Program and partner with researcher and field leader Michael Sherraden, who is interested in studying the youth model for its innovation and scalability to low-income youth across the country. For more information, contact Margaret Libby, executive director of the Mission SF Community Financial Center, a non-profit partner of the credit union, at 415-984-1799.