NEW YORK (7/25/11)--Eight community development credit unions (CDCUs) will receive $240,000 in grants to enhance the economic security of low-income older members and the disadvantaged aging in their communities, announced the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions Friday. The CDCUs will receive the funding to reach out to older adults struggling with debt and limited resources. Savings programs, low-interest loans, consumer counseling and debt-reduction plans will be offered as part of the "Economic Security for the Low-Income Aging" campaign. Participating CDCUs will partner with local economic security sites that provide one-on-one counseling to help seniors regain their economic footing and will receive a total of $80,000 in federation grants. "Low-income seniors have been battered by debt, while others have been pummeled by rising prices, or preyed upon by so-called "payday" lenders and unscrupulous debt consolidation scammers," said Senior Program Officer Melanie Stern, who leads the federation program. "Our emphasis on economic security, offered at the local level by well-established, federally regulated, and consumer-friendly credit unions, could be a real ray of hope," she said. The "Creating a Path" program is funded by the New York-based Atlantic Philanthropies, through its Aging Program, which seeks to help vulnerable seniors become financially secure and advancing supportive measures by effecting long-term change. "Many credit unions already offer competitive loan and savings rates, as well as free checking accounts to their members, but through this program, we will help the credit unions chosen for the pilot to tailor their existing services to low-income seniors and those approaching retirement age," said federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. "Additionally, we will help these institutions develop partnerships to get the word out to other older adults who may never have realized now beneficial a credit union could be for them." The federation and the selected CDCUs will collaborate with several national organizations working with older adults--including the National Council on Aging, the National Disability Institute and others--in implementing the campaign and in disseminating its information gleaned from it. Recipients include:
* Cooperative FCU, Woodbridge, N.Y. The $17 million asset credit union will partner with Catholic to provide the underserved aging with financial education and counseling, transactional services, savings accounts and loans with built-in savings components. * East River Development Alliance FCU, Long Island City, N.Y. The $102,419 asset credit union serves residents of four public housing developments. It will work with its partner, The East River Development Alliance, to develop a "Senior Saver Campaign" offering a senior savings product; a gateway product emphasizing loans for credit building; free direct deposit; free automated rent payment; free identity theft protection service; and free accounts for up to three grandchildren. * Fairfax County FCU, Fairfax, Va. The $238.5 million asset credit union will partner with the Virginia Workforce Resource Center to provide affordable financial products and services and access to public services and benefits available. It plans to offer one-on-one counseling and financial education workshops; customize existing and create new products and services to allow seniors to save, borrow, build credit, reduce debt; and provide information to help avoid fraud and scams. * Holy Rosary CU, Kansas City, Mo. The $9.2 million asset credit union serving seven Catholic parishes and a community senior center will partner with the Don Bosco Senior Center, to provide financial education/counseling at the center and offer enhanced savings accounts, and credit builder loans. * Mid-Cities Financial CU, Compton, Calif. The $26 million asset credit union will partner with Los Angeles County office of Community and Senior Services to create an educational website with retirement planning information and short courses, and offer education booklets, branch seminars and community seminars. * North Side Community FCU, Chicago. The $10 million asset CDCU will work with partner Rogers Park Community Council. The federation's Creating the Path grant will enable the credit union to focus on marketing and community outreach efforts; new relationships; new products; and financial programs for low-income older and potential new members. * Opportunities CU, Burlington, Vt. The $33 million asset credit union and its partners will expand current products and services and launch new ones to leverage local social service agencies' skills in providing casework and counseling to older adults as part of a SENIOR POWER PATH program. They plan to offer a revolving pool of low cost, small loans for emergencies and personal loans, refund anticipation loan, and a Senior Financial Safety curriculum developed by the Institute for Financial Literacy. * Pyramid FCU, Tucson, Ariz. The $77 million asset credit union will partner with United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona to promote economic security for the aging with products and services such as debt consolidation loans, benefits fairs, payday alternative loans, and retirement savings planning.