Northwest Credit Unions Become Community Development Financial Institutions

Several Northwest credit unions, including Kitsap, HAPO Community, Rivermark Community, and InRoads, recently announced they have been certified as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The CDFI designation is awarded to institutions that go out of their way to be inclusive of all citizens, including those that have economic difficulties. It opens the door for credit unions to apply for funding that impacts the community by increasing access to safe and affordable capital, financial services, and innovative products for unserved and underserved communities. Currently, 29 credit unions in the Northwest are CDFIs, with more expected to earn the designation over the next few weeks.

For over 88 years, Kitsap Credit Union’s mission has been to improve the lives of its members, the credit union said.

“We are very excited about the value the CDFI designation will bring to our communities,” said Kitsap Credit Union CEO Shawn Gilfedder. “As a CDFI credit union, we will be able to expand the population we serve and magnify what we will be able to offer them, bringing them closer to fulfilling their dreams.”

The Bremerton, Washington-based credit union looks forward to working with those in need by helping them gain financial stability. It has already begun developing plans on how it will be allocating its CDFI grants, which will focus on serving the underserved populations in its communities including Native Americans, the elderly, and low-income households.

“Our goals through our CDFI efforts are to help financially educate our community and in turn promote a healthier local economy,” said Gilfedder.

HAPO Community Credit Union in Richland, Washington, is also looking forward to investing in its local community by offering important funding resources.

“This recognition makes it clear how dedicated we are to tailoring our services to the needs of our members,” said Dolores Broeske, President and CEO of HAPO. “We will continue building partnerships that enhance and allow us to serve members in all areas that we reside in.”

Through the competitively awarded annual grant and other CDFI programs, HAPO will be able to expand its capacity to better serve lower-income individuals and families.

“Every time we can help a member get into a safer car, a first home, or provide resources to enhance the lives of those around us, we’re thrilled,” said Broeske. “With CDFI resources, we’ll be able to grow those opportunities and keep reaching more of our community.

Rivermark Community Credit Union said having access to federal funds will help advance its core mission: “Building Financial Empowerment Together.”

“This certification will allow us to secure grants to build on our strategic pillars, including opportunities to support homeownership and low-cost loans for local veteran, women, and minority-owned businesses,” said President and CEO Seth Schaefer.

The Portland-based credit union is also dedicated to ensuring that its members have the tools and education to successfully manage their money.

“As we explore grant opportunities, we are particularly interested in opportunities that help reduce financial stress,” said Ryan Halley, Rivermark’s Vice President of Financial Wellness.

Helping individuals and communities impacted by the economic downturn is a key focus for InRoads Credit Union, headquartered in St. Helens, Oregon. President and CEO Brooke Van Fleet said becoming a CDFI is a “wonderful opportunity to provide even more support to those who need it.”

Interested in Becoming a CDFI? Your Association is Here to Help

For credit unions interested in CDFI certification, NWCUA and NWCUF can provide an overview of the process, details on how to obtain certification, and referrals to Strategic Link partners that assist with certification and grant applications. All credit unions who are eligible are strongly encouraged to apply and can contact Maija Noll, NWCUF Community Impact Manager, mnoll@nwcua.org, for more information.

Posted in Around the NW, Community Impact.