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CU coffee shop shield students from budget cuts
EL SERENO, Calif. (1/12/10)--A California credit union combined forces with a coffee shop to open a branch to meet several needs of students in area schools.
Cal State L.A. FCU, Los Angeles, combined forces with a coffee shop to open a branch to meet the needs of students in area schools. (Photo provided by Cal Sate L.A. FCU)
After months of searching for the right location to open a new branch in El Sereno, Calif., Cal State L.A. FCU found the ideal location. But the site was larger than the branch required. It needed another business for the location, one with the same ideals the credit union: people helping people and a business that would also benefit the community. Meanwhile, Semillas Community Charter Schools faced state budget cutbacks and began thinking creatively about how to raise revenue and give back to the community. A coffee shop could generate additional income, and the schools use the facilities to teach students and prepare nutritious lunches. A credit line and parents’ support would be needed to open the coffee shop. Cal State L.A. FCU set out to develop a business line of credit and a charter school loan program tailored to meet the needs of the school. The credit union said it considered the venture as an investment in the community--a community that it added to its field of membership as an underserved community. The relationship between the school and credit union has been mutually beneficial, the credit union said. The coffee shop helps offset the cost of the rent for the new branch as it builds membership. Many parents, students, teachers and community members have opened accounts. Several news organizations picked up the story and gave the credit union some favorable press. See the links. “We developed a relationship with the Cal State L.A. CU, which is providing us a huge line of credit at an affordable price,” said Marcos Aguilar, executive director, Semillas Community Charter Schools. “Last year, we had to pay exorbitant amounts to borrow money to deal with the state's cash flow crisis on the academic year and its impact on us. So we've already made a huge success there.” The Xocolatl Cacao Tea and Coffeehouse provides jobs in the community; and many staff are parents or grandparents of the school’s students. In addition to shielding the school from state budget cutbacks, students can learn about supply and demand, and marketing and profit. Kitchen space is available for school lunches. The credit union also is working with the school to provide opportunities for financial education. Cal State L.A. FCU is based in Los Angeles and has $41.7 million in assets.
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