What would you do if you were given a cool $2 million to make your community a better place? While that may be a pipe dream to many of us, that’s exactly what Peninsula Credit Union was awarded with, and they’ll be giving back in a tremendous way. Based in Shelton, Washington, on the western side of Puget Sound, Peninsula CU was recently awarded a $2 million Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) grant, and will be putting the money toward an awesome cause: to reach out to its distressed and underbanked communities through its membership efforts. Here are a few reasons why this is so great and so crucial:
The timing couldn’t be better.
It’s hard to imagine going about your life without online banking and digital wallets, let alone not having a savings account period. Because of factors such as high unemployment, recent plant closures, and an escalating sense of financial insecurity, things that the underserved community have little or no control over, the grant couldn’t have come at a better time. Add to that the sobering truth that 12.6% of people in the region live in poverty and roughly 50,000 households in 2013 are considered unbanked, there’s a huge need to provide the lower income population with access to financial products and services.
It will help boost the local economy.
One of the ways Peninsula CU plans to use the grant money is to provide loans to people in need. A ripple effect of Peninsula’s efforts is that it will help the local economy at large, and in turn the entire community for the long haul. “The grant will enable us to provide more affordable loans to lower income families,” said Jim Morrell, president and CEO of Peninsula CU. “In the next five years, we plan to provide an additional $42 million in loans to people who today may not be able to borrow even at reasonable interest rates, if at all. By helping to bring affordable loans to families in need, we hope to help revitalize the local economy at the same time.”
They have a proven track record of helping the little guys.
Those hard at work at Peninsula CU are no rookies when it comes to helping the underserved. It currently serves 17,500 members and is also a part of the CO-OP ATM and Shared Branch networks. Plus Peninsula CU has a great track record of improving the financial well-being of the community through programs and products such as:
- Borrow and Save: a product that helped members get themselves out of the vicious cycle of high-interest payday check cashing.
- Save to Win: a prize-linked program to promote the value of savings.
The credit union will also devote part of the grant money toward increasing its work in financial education, and toward outreach to the underserved with the goal of helping them reach financial stability.
Peninsula CU’s efforts is proof positive of what great people with big hearts can achieve. It just goes to show that by pooling together your ideas and resources to do your part to serve those around, you can ultimately create a plan that will pay off in a huge way.
There are credit unions all over the country doing amazing things to serve their communities, as The Financial Brand reported on November 18, 2015, here. If you’re looking for a financial institution like Peninsula CU, use our branch locator to find a credit union near you.