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Grant brings Culture of Savings to Latino Community
DURHAM, N.C. (12/29/08)--Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) has earned a $60,000 Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to create a “Culture of Savings” throughout a state with one of the fastest-growing Latino populations. In North Carolina, the Latino population has surged to over 600,000 from 22,000 in 1990. LCCU estimates that 80% of Latinos in North Carolina are unbanked--twice the national average for Latinos. Their per-capita income of $8,650 is less than half of other North Carolina households, and their average household net worth of $8,000 is less than one-tenth of white families.
A graduate of Latino Community Credit Union’s financial education course makes his first savings deposit. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
“Creating a culture of savings is critical for the Latino population,” emphasized LCCU CEO Luis Pastor. “Our Culture of Savings initiative will educate LCCU members as well as create a vital program that can be a model for other organizations to follow.” Latino families tend to be younger than the rest of the U.S. population, so they may be more responsive to financial education. LCCU’s membership reflects this trend, with an average age of 34, compared with the national average credit union membership age of 47. “We plan to develop and pilot three projects targeting three distinct age groups,” explained LCCU Financial Education Director Erika Bell. “Our hope is that by influencing multiple generations, this will instill and perpetuate a culture of savings. The projects will get everyone involved in and learning about the concept of savings, and will include monetary awards through long-term share term certificates.” Primary goals are to increase the number of savings accounts and the amount of savings for children, youth, and adults. “The implementation of this Culture of Savings initiative beginning in 2009 is particularly crucial,” Pastor said, “because we are planning to open three new branches and expand our financial education program. By implementing this initiative now, we will be able to attract, educate, and retain new members.” LCCU currently has seven branches throughout North Carolina. Chartered with just 500 members in the year 2000, LCCU has grown to serve over 50,000 members--95% are Latino; 97% are low-income, and 70% were previously unbanked. “The credit union can create opportunities for young families in this target population,” Pastor concluded. “Providing financial education in conjunction with access to affordable financial services, helping to create credit histories, and building toward homeownership are necessary steps to improve their lives.” This is the 11th of 14 Innovation Grants approved by NCUF in 2008. Innovation Grants are made possible by members of corporate credit unions who invest in the Community Investment Fund (CIF).
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