For several years, the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals (NLCUP) has hosted a reception and networking event that has now become a tradition during CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference. This year the reception had a very special connotation: to celebrate the national expansion of Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance), a Hispanic outreach program started by the Texas Credit Union League around 10 years ago with the objective of bringing together credit unions committed to meeting the needs of Hispanic consumers.
On September 22, 2015, the Cornerstone Credit Union League and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions announced a partnership to bring the program to interested credit unions across the country. Since that announcement, the initiative has rapidly grown and now counts with 45 participant credit unions in AZ, CA, CO, IA, NM, OK, TX, WA and the District of Columbia. The effort is generating strong interest in the industry and is projected to double the number of participant credit unions by the end of 2016.
Although the effort is going through a controlled roll out that initially focuses on the Southwest region, where the Federation is working closely with the Mountain Credit Union Association (AZ, CO and WY); the Credit Union Association of New Mexico and the California and Nevada Credit League; the program is open to credit unions from all over the country. Earlier this month, the Iowa Credit Union League announced its support and is now actively promoting the effort. Other state Leagues and Associations have expressed interest and are expected to join the program soon.
Two key partners on Juntos Avanzamos’ national expansion are the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals -NLCUP, which represents well recognized Hispanic leaders in the credit union movement, who bring their expertise and experience to the effort and Coopera, a consulting firm specialized on helping credit unions better meet the needs of the Hispanic community and that over the last 10 years, has become a go to resource for the industry in this space.
Given its financial inclusion mission and focus, the Federation has been historically involved in a number of important developments to connect the credit union industry with the Hispanic and immigrant markets. For a number of years, it hosted and then supported a series of Latino Credit Union Conferences; it also played a role in the forming of NLCUP. The Federation has also actively promoted the acceptance of the Matricula Consular and worked with NCUA to obtain regulatory approval of other alternative ID, such as Municipal IDs being issued by some municipalities.
Juntos Avanzamos is designed to assess the capacity and commitment of credit unions interested in serving the Hispanic market to ensure that they have adequate policies and procedures; as well as relevant products and services to meet the financial needs of this rapidly growing and vastly underserved demographic. Once the credit union demonstrates their capacity to serve the Hispanic community, they are recognized for their efforts through a comprehensive public relations initiative: a Proclamation Ceremony and a Juntos Avanzamos flag that is flown at the credit union.
The Juntos Avanzamos designation solidifies the work that Border Federal Credit Union is doing in our community. Juntos Avanzamos is a powerful tool that we plan to use to promote financial services as we reach out to Hispanics. Being an integral part of our communities, BFCU is constantly engaging in programs, just like this, with the ultimate intent of getting our community to become better stewards of their finances. I highly encourage my credit union peers to apply for the Juntos Avanzamos designation as they reach out to the Hispanic market. Credit unions are the perfect fit for Hispanics and the Juntos Avanzamos tool facilitates the process of serving this growing minority group. And, on behalf of NLCUP, I congratulate the Cornerstone Credit Union League, the Federation and other affiliated associations for the work they are doing in promoting this program among our credit unions. Now is up to other credit unions to submit their applications and join us in being part of our Juntos Avanzamos group, says Maria Martinez, President/CEO of Border FCU.
Credit unions that enter into the program demonstrate their ability to serve the Hispanic marketplace by gearing up their operations, products, strategies for serving, and board/staff support relative to this initiative. Staffing bilingual tellers, maintaining a physical presence in the Hispanic community, and providing relevant products and access to affordable credit and financial education opportunities. “everyone in our branch is fully bilingual and bicultural. That gives us a strong connection to and understanding of our community and their needs” says Ana Maria Roig, Manager of DGEFCU’s ACCESO Branch.
Juntos Avanzamos is the standard that will ensure a more consistent experience for Hispanic consumers across the growing number where the network is gaining a presence. The standardization of policies and procedures will greatly reduce inconsistencies across markets and is expected to tremendously help credit unions build relationships with community based organizations serving this demographic, many of which find it challenging to identify credit unions that are responsive and interested in meeting the needs of this population.
Juntos Avanzamos will become the conduit to connect credit unions serving the Hispanic community to the growing network of partners interested in working with our industry. For instance, the Federation already works closely with Catholic Charities (a huge network of community based organizations that serve more than 9 million people) and the National Council of La Raza. We also have a formal relationship with Cities for Citizenship, a coalition of municipalities that are committed to linking up immigrant communities with the financial mainstream. The Federation is also formalizing collaborations with the Mexican consulate network, which has 50 offices throughout the country and that’s eager to connect Mexican immigrants with socially responsible financial institutions.
“This is a terrific opportunity for the Federation to unify forces with leading partners within the credit union industry to promote financial inclusion within the Hispanic and immigrant communities, both of which are in desperate need of affordable and accessible financial services and asset building opportunities that credit unions are best positioned to offer”, says Cathie Mahon, Federation President/CEO.
Dick Ensweiler, President/CEO of Cornerstone Credit Union League adds: “The opportunity to truly reach out and serve the unserved or underserved is what drives Juntos Avanzamos. This program provides insights products, programs and aptitudes necessary to appeal to the Hispanic/Latino marketplace. This demographic is young, growing and populated by hard working, God fearing, family oriented and loyal people who are precisely those credit unions should be serving. Proving them with lifeline services initially, and increasing their awareness that credit unions can make a difference in all aspects of their financial lives is consistent with our challenge of serving all consumers, especially those of modest means”.
“We are excited by the energy and momentum that is picking up around the national Juntos Avanzamos designation. We look forward to continuing being a resource to credit unions thinking about the designation and those that already have it and are looking to grow their Hispanic growth programs” says Miriam De Dios Coopera President/CEO.
“The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues are very pleased to be partnering with the Federation on the Juntos Avanzamos initiative to help meet the financial needs of the Hispanic communities in California and Nevada. We are excited that we have six credit unions in California that are already certified as Juntos Avanzamos credit unions. And we are looking forward to seeing many more of our member credit unions obtain the Juntos Avanzamos designation, demonstrating their commitment to serving this growing but underserved market”, says Larry Palochik, EVP CCUL.
“The Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals understands the critical need to bring financial services to the underserved and so do the Credit Unions of New Mexico. We both are committed to financial inclusion for all, rather than some, and we believe it is a necessity and very important work, and it perfectly aligns with the values we hold to as a movement. We’re excited about our participation in Juntos Avanzamos and look forward to working with the Federation, NLCUP and the rest of the credit union partners” said Paul Stull, President and CEO of CUANM.
“This has been a tremendous opportunity for our Iowa credit unions to grow. For the past 10 years, we’ve been privileged to have Coopera helping credit unions grow their Hispanic market and now are excited for this new collaboration with the Federation, leagues, NLCUP and Coopera to help grow the Juntos program. We are excited to announce our first Juntos designated credit union, Community 1st Credit Union in Ottumwa, Iowa who will be celebrating their proclamation designation on May 5, 2016. We encourage other leagues to get involved in the process” says Murray Williams, Acting President/CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League.
Carla Decker, President/CEO of DGEFCU says: “Our credit union is honored to receive the Juntos Avanzamos designation in recognition of our mission of community development through financial inclusion. We are particularly proud to receive this distinction when ACCESO, our community branch, celebrates 10 years of dedicated service to the Hispanic community in the Washington, DC metro area”.
“NLCUP’s leadership recognizes the importance and the value that Juntos Avanzamos brings to serving the Latino Community, and is committed to playing an active role in supporting, promoting and sharing best practices and experiences with participant credit unions” says Carlos Calderon President/CEO of OASFCU and NLCUP Co-Chair.
“We envision Juntos Avanzamos as a platform that will help credit unions across the country connect with the Hispanic population and meet the needs of this vastly underserved community. Hispanics is where our historical mission of serving people of small means overlaps with a tremendous business opportunity that will propel our industry to its next phase of growth and relevance” said Pablo DeFilippi, VP Membership and Business Development at the Federation.
Click here for a list of Juntos Avanzamos credit unions and here to download the JA Application. For more information about this program, visit www.cdcu.coop/initiatives/serving-underserved-markets/immigrants/ or contact Jason Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org