Community Development Grant Opportunities for Low-Income Designated Credit Unions Open July 1

Beginning July 1, low-income designated credit unions will have the opportunity to apply for NCUA’s Community Development Revolving Loan Fund grants. Through these grants, NCUA’s Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives will distribute a total of approximately $2 million.

These grants open countless doors for low-income credit unions, and the path to earning one is easier than many imagine. Below is an overview of what your credit union can expect when applying for this funding. For a deeper dive into the application process, sign up for NWCUA’s free webinar on July 11. During the webinar, we’ll talk through the process as a credit union applies for their grant in real time.

How do I know if my credit union qualifies for these grants?

To qualify for the grants, your credit union must be low-income designated. If your credit union does not currently have this designation, contact your Association for assistance. It typically takes about an hour to determine if your credit union is eligible for the designation. If your credit union qualifies, it can receive the designation within 24 hours.

How does the application process work?

Your Association can guide your credit union through the entire application process. If this is your credit union’s first time applying, the process will take about an hour. For credit unions that have applied for these grants in the past, the application process should only take about 10 minutes.

First-time applicants must obtain a DUNS number and register on SAM. Credit unions that have previously registered on SAM will need to update their registration if they haven’t already done so this year.

For credit unions that have never applied or that haven’t received a grant in the past two years, the chances of receiving an award are especially high.

What types of grants are available?

Your credit union can apply for funding under one of three capacity-building initiatives, as well as a separate initiative to support outreach to people living in underserved communities. The capacity-building grants cycle opens July 1 and closes July 31. Awards are expected to be announced the first week in September. For the underserved communities grant, the cycle opens July 1 and closes Aug. 31. Awards will be announced the first week of October.

Following are details on each of the funding categories:

  • Leadership development: Credit unions may use this grant to promote career development, management succession planning, diversity and inclusion training, or use it to structure essential employment positions. Each applicant must provide a brief narrative describing the project.
    • Maximum grant: $10,000
    • Who is eligible? Low-income designated credit unions with a CAMEL 1-3 are eligible to apply, and Minority Depository Institutions with less than $30 million in assets will receive preference.
    • Timeline to use funding: Credit unions must use this grant within seven months.
  • Digital services and security: Under this initiative, credit unions can improve digital member services as well as cybersecurity and fraud prevention. This grant can be used to offer services like remote deposit capture, digital payments and wallets, and mobile loan applications, or to provide cybersecurity training or digital encryption.
    • Maximum grant: $7,500
    • Who is eligible? Low-income designated credit unions with a CAMEL 1-3 are eligible to apply. While these grants are expected to be awarded to different asset tiers, credit unions that offer limited digital services as described on their 5300 Report are most likely to receive an award.
    • Timeline to use funding: Credit unions are required to submit a paid invoice for reimbursement for an eligible project within nine months of receiving the grant.
  • Small, low-income credit union capacity: Credit unions with assets of less than $30 million may apply for funding to address operational challenges such as upgrading technology systems for greater efficiency and improving operations.
    • Maximum grant: $7,500
    • Who is eligible? Applicants must fall under the $30 million asset limit, have a CAMEL score of 1-4, and have an eligible technology project designed to improve capacity.
    • Timeline to use funding: Awardees have up to one year to utilize these funds.
  • Underserved communities: These grants are used to help credit unions implement strategies that focus on improving the financial health of individuals living in underserved communities. Examples include outreach to minorities, youth, veterans, and immigrants. The project must drive new members to the credit union from underserved communities.
    • Maximum grant: $25,000
    • Who is eligible? CAMEL 1-2 credit unions are eligible to apply. In addition, these credit unions must have a management rating of 2 or better.

What have Northwest credit unions accomplished with these grants?

For last year’s grant awardees, the funding has fueled critical advancements.

“In August 2016, we did a substantial IT upgrade. We upgraded hardware and software in the amount of $54,000, and the $7,000 we received in grant funds went toward this,” explained Margaret Burkholtz, CEO of Prime Source Credit Union. “The grant funds helped minimize viruses and downtime, and protected our members’ data from being compromised.”

White Pine Credit Union CEO Glenda Hart detailed the essential training the award has facilitated for her team. “White Pine Credit Union is thankful for the educational opportunities that we are receiving as a result of a $3,000 grant,” she said. “Our staff of four has been able to take advantage of online IRA training, CUNA RegTraC training, NWCUA council memberships, and registration for two CEO meetings for 2017. Without this grant, none of these would have happened.”

Interested in applying? Application materials are available here. Your Association will host a webinar on July 11 to talk through the application process as a credit union applies for their grant in real time. For more information, please contact John Trull, AVP of regulatory advocacy, at jtrull@nwcua.org, or Carmen Vigil, community manager, at cvigil@nwcua.org.

Posted in Around the NW, NCUA.