This Black History Month, Inclusiv honors the MDI credit union CEOs, Board members, staff and volunteers who fight for social, economic and racial equity in the communities they serve.
Below are stories highlighting the many ways in which MDIs that serve Black members help build stronger, more prosperous communities, combating the racial wealth gap by offering safe, affordable financial services.
Stay tuned as we add more stories throughout the month of February!
Blanche Jackson, CEO of Stepping Stones Community Federal Credit Union in Wilmington, Delaware, reflects back on her 20-plus years of experience in the credit union industry with a sense of contentment.
Jackson dedicated time as a volunteer with Stepping Stones since its early stages, while also working in various roles at other credit unions over the years. But it was after finally settling into the CEO position at Stepping Stones that she realized her purpose.
“I needed all of that experience to get me here,” Jackson says. “Now that I’m here, I know this is where I am meant to be.”
And when you add up Jackson’s accomplishments in her three years as CEO—including increased membership, more robust offerings, and a deepened connection to the community—it’s obvious just how much she is meant to be at Stepping Stones... Read More
During his five years on the board of directors Sherod Halliburton worked to transition Financial Access Federal Credit Union (formerly known as Manatee Federal Credit Union) from only serving employees of Tropicana Products to the at-large community. Due to his strong community ties and business acumen Halliburton was recruited to join the staff. At the time, he was executive director of a government redevelopment agency in the same low-income neighborhood in Bradenton, Florida, where the credit union is housed.
Having never worked in a financial institution but equipped with years of credit and business development experience, he started as executive vice president. He was given one year to learn the business and elevate to president or be released.
“I was so enamored with the opportunity to impact lives though financial services that I decided to bet on me.”
After helping to craft the application while on the board, Financial Access was certified as a CDFI on his second day on the job...Read More
One of the oldest credit unions in Ohio, Greater Cleveland Community Credit Union (GCCCU) was established in November of 1936 with 39 owner-members, and exclusively served City of Cleveland workers for over 75 years. In 2017, the credit union began a new chapter by opening its membership to every person, business or organization that lives, works, worships, or attends school in Cuyahoga County.
Providing a personal touch in an impersonal industry
An important component of the credit union concept is to offer a more personal alternative in an industry known for its focus on the bottom line. In the “people helping people” segment of the financial industry, it’s common for credit union employees to know their members. And Greater Cleveland Community Credit Union—a nonprofit, member-owned financial cooperative—truly values its members and adds a personal touch to its interactions through an emphasis on respect and customer satisfaction.
“Our hope is that our members will get the best possible service they can get out of a financial institution,” says Greater Cleveland Community Credit Union CEO Gloria McClendon. “We are sticklers in terms of working for the membership and not for ourselves.”...Read More
It’s not uncommon, on the first of the month, to see a line wrapped around Hill District Federal Credit Union (HDFCU) in the morning. Located in the Hill District section of the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the credit union has a committed membership based on trust—something that longtime Treasurer and CEO Richard Witherspoon says is crucial to their success.
A history rooted in the search for racial equity
In 1968, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., rocked the nation. Waves of civil disturbance swept the country, and many African American communities were heavily impacted by an outpouring of wide-ranging emotions.
“At the time across the country, inner cities were ablaze,” explains Witherspoon. “When the dust settled, traditional financial institutions were reluctant to come into neighborhoods like this.”
It was therefore in 1970 when Mary Walker decided that if financial institutions weren’t going to come to them...Read More
Union Baptist Church Federal Credit Union (UBCFCU) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is on the verge of some bright new beginnings—Urban Beginnings Choice, to be exact. This is the approved new name the credit union is in the process of implementing—they will soon become known as Urban Beginnings Choice Federal Credit Union.
This name change is reflective of the credit union’s upcoming transition from being a resource exclusive to church parishioners to expanding to other religious institutions and out into the community.
“We want to be a light in the community,” says Diane Starks, CEO of the credit union.
With a current membership comprised of parishioners from its two member churches totaling close to 250 people, the credit union is small, but it has a story to tell and big plans to unveil...Read More
Unified Homeowners of Illinois Federal Credit Union had a specific goal upon establishment in 2006—to provide any and all financial services pertaining to owning a home. It was during this time that founder and sponsor Thomas O. Walker identified a problem in the Chicago area—home equity loans and lines of credit. Low-income individuals were using home equity loans and lines of credit as ATMS, many not comprehending how easily they were falling into a cycle of debt.
“These individuals had trouble getting small-dollar loans just to keep up with maintaining their homes,” explains the credit union’s manager Teresa Villalobos Rosado. “If something broke, they either had to tap into their equity or were forced to seek out a payday loan. And then they’re really stuck.”
Unified Homeowners wanted to be the place their community could turn to for safe and affordable smaller loans, even with less than perfect credit...Read More
Resource One Credit Union (R1CU) has been helping hard-working Texans achieve their financial goals since 1936. R1CU is one of the largest 10 minority-designated credit unions in Texas, and the largest CDFI and minority credit union in Dallas.
Originally founded to serve employees of Sears Roebuck and other companies, they continued to expand the credit union by converting to a community charter. R1CU now has 11 branches serving communities throughout Dallas and Houston.
A critical community resource
The need for fair and responsible financial services in Texas continues to grow. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, the state ranks highest in the country for predatory lending. This amounts to more than $1.67 billion in fees and interest on payday and title loans from low-income and unbanked communities...Read More