Iowa Hispanics Gain Access to Fair, Affordable Financial Services Through Credit Unions

2/5/2016

Iowa’s 174,000 Hispanic consumers will soon have more options for financial services in the state thanks to an expanded credit union designation program. Juntos Avanzamos, Together We Advance, recognizes credit unions that serve and empower Hispanic communities. It’s a program that has run successfully in three states for 10 years and will now be available to Iowa credit unions.

According to Miriam De Dios, CEO of Iowa-based consulting firm Coopera, the growing Hispanic segment of Iowa’s population often does not have access to responsible and affordable financial products and services.

“Consistent with the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ Juntos Avanzamos is an outreach program helping Hispanic and immigrant consumers understand the U.S. financial system, as well as providing affordable, relevant and dignified financial services,” said De Dios. “Growing up in an unbanked household, I understand intimately the needs of the financially underserved Hispanic community. The affordable products and personal service credit unions provide have the potential to be life changing for several generations of both foreign and U.S.-born Hispanics.”

Iowa credit unions understand service to Hispanic communities is critical to their continued vitality, as well. Hispanics are the state’s youngest and largest ethnic minority. They constitute 5.6 percent Iowa’s total population today and are predicted to make up 13 percent by 2050.

Juntos Avanzamos is a way of qualifying credit unions to ensure they are truly friendly to the Hispanic community. It also tells the community the credit union is ready and willing to serve its Hispanic members. Participating credit unions show their commitment and preparedness to meet the financial needs of this population through a national application process.  Credit unions receiving the Juntos Avanzamos designation are recognized by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (the Federation), and a Juntos Avanzamos flag flown at the credit union.

Coopera partnered with the Federation to expand the program nationally and is working with the Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) to bring the program to credit unions across Iowa.

ICUL COO Murray Williams said, “Iowa credit unions provide members with a safe place to save their money, while offering the opportunity to build credit and be on the path to financial security. Homeownership, education levels and income all increase when a community has access to dignified financial services. This impact is critical for the success of Hispanic families in our state, and Coopera is at the forefront of these efforts.”

“We welcome the participation of the Iowa Credit Union League in this initiative that seeks to increase financial inclusion opportunities for the growing Hispanic community,” said Pablo DeFilippi, Federation EVP of membership and development services. “Juntos Avanzamos is an effective platform for helping position credit unions as the natural choice for Hispanics and immigrant consumers.”

Juntos Avanzamos was developed by the Cornerstone Credit Union League, which represents Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Today, more than 40 credit unions across the country are Juntos Avanzamos credit unions. Most are located in California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

Iowa credit unions interested in applying for the Juntos Avanzamos designation should contact De Dios at info@cooperaconsulting.com or Jason Chang, program associate at the Federation, at jchang@cdcu.coop.

Credit union leaders who want to learn more about the program are invited to attend a webinar Tuesday, February 16 at 10 a.m. central. Online registration is available at https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=p1llk6elp0kp.

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