Stepping Stones FCU is a small credit union—but it’s hard to miss them in Wilmington, Delaware. A credit union board member drives its highly visible van to different locations around the city every day. More than a moving advertisement, it prompts people to call Stepping Stones for information: It actually can open accounts on the spot and issue ATM cards.
Stepping Stones FCU was chartered in 2011. Jackson volunteered through much of the organizing effort, providing expertise and credibility that she had developed over 20 years at the Delaware State Police Federal Credit Union. Stepping Stones FCU’s sponsor was a nonprofit organization, the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council (DCRAC), which had operated a credit clinic, a housing clinic, and a tax clinic. As Jackson describes it, DCRAC saw that their efforts could only move clients so far if they could not provide access to a financial institution.
Today, the credit union has about $2 million in assets and nearly 700 members. Its growth has been purposely slow, Jackson explains, because it has not had the benefit of full-time staffing and the membership is varied in its financial profile and experience. Some have solid credit, but others “have never been banked before, so we find ourselves working with them and teaching them about the banking system.”
Jackson is excited about a partnership that aids formerly incarcerated persons in getting reacclimated to life outside of prison. The credit union collaborates with Project New Start, which offers a 10-week program providing skills to men and women to prepare them for employment.
Stepping Stones FCU is gearing up to expand its services. It offers financial counseling through the Pathways program, and over the next year, it plans to start offering small-dollar mortgage loans. “In the years to come,” Jackson says, “we want to be the credit union that the people of Wilmington see as their credit union."