WASHINGTON (4/20/09)--Credit union organizations now are eligible to apply for new Innovation Grants from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) through June 30. Innovation Grants are aligned with NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions. While participation in REAL Solutions is not required to apply for a grant, NCUF is seeking grant applications for innovative projects in any of REAL Solutions’ five service areas:
* Education--Innovation grants assist credit union organizations participating in national financial education programs including Biz Kid$ and the National Endowment for Financial Education. They also support other initiatives consistent with the education components of REAL Solutions: financial counseling, product awareness and staff training. * Transaction Services--The grants support transaction services that help credit unions attract underserved consumers. Examples include check cashing, money orders, prepaid stored value cards, remittances, second chance/fresh start checking, and tax preparation. * Savings--The grants support programs that help credit union members with low wealth establish and maintain savings. Examples include prize-based savings, safe accounts, savings challenges and step-up share certificates. * Credit--The grants support initiatives that help non-prime borrowers build and improve credit through credit unions. Examples include alternative credit reports, citizenship loans, first and last rent loans, flexible loan policies, non-prime used car loans, score builder loans, and thin file loans. * Homeownership--The grants support programs that help credit unions members with lower credit scores qualify as first-time homebuyers. Examples include foreclosure assistance loans, green loans, Home Loan Payment Relief mortgages, Individual Taxpayer ID Number loans, and timely repayment rewards.
Eligible applicants include credit unions, credit union service organizations, state credit union associations, state credit union foundations, and other organizations owned or controlled by credit unions. Applications will not be accepted from organizations outside the credit union movement. “Both our Grants Committee and our Board voted unanimously to narrow the eligibility this year,” explained new NCUF Grants Committee Chairman John Gregoire. “These actions ensure that all Innovation Grant dollars will directly benefit the credit union community.” “Based on what we’re hearing from credit unions that want to apply for grants this year, their needs are greater than ever,” said NCUF Deputy Director Steve Bosack. “We’re fortunate that our foundation is in a strong position to help credit unions reach new members and deliver innovative services.” The grant dollars available will depend on how much credit union organizations invest in the Community Investment Fund.