Inclusiv Announces Financial Empowerment Initiative
for Credit Unions in the Rural South
NEW YORK, NY (February 19, 2019) – Inclusiv is pleased to announce the launch of Bridging the Gaps: Promoting Financial Inclusion in Rural Communities, a new financial empowerment initiative made possible in partnership with Capital One. The program aims to expand financial inclusion and empowerment in rural, underserved areas of the Southeastern United States, by providing capacity-building assistance to community development credit unions (CDCUs) embedded in these rural, economically challenged communities.
Currently in its pilot stage, the initiative awards grants alongside training and technical assistance to hyper-local CDCUs that provide asset-building financial products and services to individuals, families, and small businesses residing primarily in rural, persistent poverty communities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The initiative aims to expand the reach and impact of these hyper-local CDCUs through marketing and financial education support and to build their institutional capacity to meet the financial service needs of the rural communities they serve.
Based on their deep commitment to underserved communities, five rural credit unions were selected to participate, including Citizens Choice Federal Credit Union (Natchez, MS), Demopolis Federal Credit Union (Demopolis, AL), FOGCE Federal Credit Union (Eutaw, AL), Phenix Pride Federal Credit Union (Phenix City, AL), and W.B.R.T. Federal Credit Union (Port Allen, LA). Each credit union is a low-income, minority-designated institution that serves the rural, mostly African-American population in their region.
From its inception in 1974, Inclusiv has a long legacy of promoting financial inclusion in the Southeast together with its member credit unions, state leagues, and fellow nonprofit partners. Collectively, the Inclusiv network has 90 institutions in the 16 states that comprise the southeastern U.S. Together, they serve 4.6 million low- and moderate-income individuals. CDCUs are often the first and only financial institutions in these low-income communities that provide safe, reliable and affordable financial products and services.
“We’re thrilled that Capital One is investing in expanding financial empowerment in the rural South through CDCUs,” said Cathie Mahon, Inclusiv President/CEO. “Financial inclusion and stability is a keystone of these community-based financial institutions. While we have made great strides, there is still a significant amount of work to do throughout the region. Through the introduction of this new initiative, we are pleased to be able to help bolster the efforts, expand the reach and deepen the impact of these rural CDCUs – the very institutions that have been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of leading this work in the communities they serve.”
Access to affordable financial services is an especially critical challenge in the South, which has high poverty rates and lower access to mainstream financial institutions than in than other parts of the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 13.4 percent of the total U.S. population had income below their respective poverty thresholds in 2017. In the same period, poverty rates of 18.0 percent or higher were seen in Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia, where costly alternative providers thrive, draining precious resources from the communities that need them most. Helping consumers build assets and improve financial capability is an important way that CDCUs, like those participating in this initiative, contribute to the overall well-being of these underserved communities.
“We’re proud to work with Inclusiv on a program that aligns with Capital One’s mission of advancing financial inclusion through community finance,” said Lydia Jackson, VP-CRA Business Development Officer at Capital One. “We believe that thriving communities support the financial health of individuals.”
About the Credit Unions
Founded in 1966, Citizens Choice Federal Credit Union serves local government employees and select employee groups in Natchez, MS. The credit union has grown substantially in recent years; it is now over $1.0 million in assets, serving nearly 500 members in the City of Natchez.
Demopolis Federal Credit Union was established in 1966 and has remained one of Demopolis, Alabama’s most trusted financial institutions. As a long-standing CDFI in the area, Demopolis FCU has been committed to offering safe, affordable financial products to hundreds of individuals, families, and businesses that live, work, and worship in the community.
Based in Eutaw, Alabama, FOGCE Federal Credit Union was created to serve the underserved residents of Greene County, AL, one of the most impoverished counties in the nation. FOGCE FCU was founded by Carol Zippert, a founding member of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and is credited with driving out the community’s only payday lender, thanks to its trusted relationship with local residents.
Phenix Pride Federal Credit Union in Phenix City, Alabama has grown from seven members in 1960 to nearly two thousand members. Originally founded as a credit union for local hospital employees, Phenix Pride FCU is now a $9.2 million CDFI that serves residents of Russell County. A large part of Phenix Pride’s growth has come from providing auto loans that help their members commute to and from work.
W.B.R.T Federal Credit Union was founded in 1958 to provide banking services to West Baton Rouge Parish School employees in Port Allen, Louisiana. Today, the credit union has expanded to serve local SEG and educational institutions in West Baton Rouge, and now has $2.3 million in assets and over one thousand members in its network.
At Inclusiv, we believe that true financial inclusion and empowerment is a fundamental right. We dedicate ourselves to closing the gaps and removing barriers to financial opportunities for people living in distressed and underserved communities. Inclusiv is a certified CDFI intermediary that transforms local progress into lasting national change. We provide capital, make connections, build capacity, develop innovative products and services and advocate for our member community development credit unions (CDCUs). Inclusiv members serve over eight million residents of low-income urban, rural and reservation-based communities across the U.S. and hold over $92 billion in community-controlled assets. Founded in 1974, Inclusiv is headquartered in New York, NY, with offices in Madison, WI and Atlanta, GA. For more information about Inclusiv visit us at Inclusiv.org and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., had $247.2 billion in deposits and $362.9 billion in total assets as of September 30, 2018. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has branches located primarily in New York, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in S&P 100 index.
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