Five Northwest Credit Unions Find Funding Opportunities Through CDFI Awards

Consider your Association and Foundation teams a resource for obtaining designations that make your credit union eligible for this “found money.”

10/6/2020

Five credit unions based in the Northwest received financial awards totaling over $2 million from the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) Program. The awards are presented annually by the U.S. Treasury, which created the program to fill gaps in economically underserved communities.

CDFIs may apply for Financial Assistance awards of up to $2 million, and Technical Assistance awards of $125,000. The funds help to build the capacity of CDFIs, empowering them to grow, achieve organizational sustainability, and contribute to the revitalization of their communities.

Northwest credit unions that received awards include:

Northwest Community Credit Union, Eugene, Oregon $125,000 Technical Assistance
Point West Credit Union, Portland $125,000 Technical Assistance
Ironworkers USA Credit Union, Portland   $375,000 Financial Assistance
Industrial Credit Union, Bellingham, Washington $650,000 Financial Assistance
Peninsula Credit Union, Shelton, Washington $900,000 Financial Assistance

The Northwest Credit Union Association and Northwest Credit Union Foundation have been instrumental in helping credit unions obtain CDFI certification, which makes them eligible for Treasury CDFI awards and other grant programs. This is the largest number of credit unions from the region to receive CDFI awards in a year.

“These large grants can drive significant impact,” said John Trull, NWCUA Vice President, Regulatory Advocacy. “No credit union eligible for CDFI designation should pass on the opportunity. And I would say, if you are turned down when you first apply, keep trying.”

That’s advice Ironworkers USA followed. After being turned down twice, the third time was the charm. The award will go a long way toward serving ironworkers in the credit union’s nationwide field of membership.

“This grant will make a huge impact on our community,” said Teri Robinson, CEO. “It will allow us to increase our lending and operational capacity, all in the name of serving this important group of hard-working individuals who are critical to the literal building of our country.”

Peninsula will use its sizeable $900,000 Financial Assistance Award to forward its efforts to provide affordable workforce housing solutions — a substantial process the credit union began more than two years ago. Peninsula launched some of this important work with a grant from NWCUF, and with the CDFI funding will now be able to provide housing loans to families, loans for prefabrication mortgages, and loans for accessory dwelling units. This will be welcome in the six counties the credit union serves, which have been hit hard by unemployment and plant closings.

Congressman Denny Heck (D-10-WA) serves that district and has worked closely with Peninsula’s affordable workforce housing initiative.

“I am so proud to have worked with them to increase affordable workforce housing, and to represent them in Washington, D.C.,” Heck said.

CDFI certification allows credit unions to leverage the annual Treasury awards and other grant programs that can help them provide insured, affordable financial services to unserved or underserved communities. The National Credit Union Administration has streamlined the application process for federally insured credit unions and is accepting applications through Oct. 17. More information for both state and federal chartered credit unions can be found online.

Editor’s Note: NWCUA’s John Trull consults Northwest credit unions on the process of applying for CDFI designation. Email Trull if you have questions.