Point West Completes CDFI Certification Featured in NCUA Video

Learn about Point West Credit Union’s path to CDFI certification in this video.

The NCUA last week released a series of five videos to help guide credit unions in getting certification as community development financial institutions (CDFI). The second of the five, called “A Tale of Three Credit Unions,” features three Northwest credit unions and their successes with the CDFI program.

The video, shot in part at last year’s NWCUA Directors’ Conference (click here to register for this year’s conference), shows how Newrizons Federal Credit Union and Lighthouse Community Credit Union have used CDFI funding to serve their communities, especially those who are often underserved by the traditional market.

The video also features Point West Credit Union, which was in the process of seeking CDFI certification when it was filmed. Since then, Point West has received its certification and is seeking funding to expand their services to their communities’ underserved residents.

“CDFI is a strategic path that takes focus and resources to build,” said Point West President and CEO Amy Nelson. “Once you gain momentum though, the returns generate qualitative as well as quantitative returns.”

Nelson said that Point West has created a multi-year strategy for seeking CDFI grants. “In year one, we’ll seek grant funding to increase auto lending to C, D, and E borrowers,” she said. “Point West has a proven track record for auto lending, strengthening our grant opportunity for a ‘first try.’”

For year two, she said, Point West will seek CDFI funding for small business loans to local entrepreneurs for amounts less than $50,000. “We are working to build our online processes and community partnerships in 2015,” said Nelson, “so as to demonstrate a streamlined pipeline for micro-enterprise loans during the 2016 application cycle. We also plan to leverage what we learn from the 2015 grant cycle in order to enhance year two, which we know will be a much more complex strategy to expand.”

Nelson said that partnerships have been and will continue to be a key part of the CDFI strategy, from key partners helping to guide them through the CDFI certification process, to community partners who will help them reach the underserved people they aim to serve.

Nelson said that the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions was a key resource in the certification process. “I highly recommend their annual conference,” she said. “We attended the conference in preparation for CDFI. Meeting with CDFI credit unions to understand their certification/recertification activities gave clarity to what we’d soon be engaging in.”

She also commended and thanked Scott Butterfield of Your Credit Union Partner and Teri Robinson, CEO of Pacific Northwest Ironworkers Federal Credit Union, as well as State Employees’ Credit Union in North Carolina, Marisol Credit Union in Arizona, and Self Help Credit Union.

Point West also continues to build great partnerships with community organizations. Nelson said that the Portland State University Business Outreach Program, Mercy Corps Northwest, Innovative Changes, BankOn Oregon and Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization are just a few of the partners who continue to help Point West offer services to the underserved.

“CDFI certification is representative of the core mission of credit unions: to provide education, products, services and partnerships which durably empower members to improve and sustain their financial condition,” said Nelson.

“To mesh this industry value with our Point West strategic vision was a matter of assessment and clarity:  what do we currently do, and do well, that we can leverage and offer to more community members?” Nelson continued. “Consumer and micro-enterprise loans is Point West’s answer. From our perspective, the journey has just started — we know we still have a great deal to learn, and CDFI partners are a tremendous resource for us to learn from others and improve how we operate as a credit union.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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