CDCU Pioneer Martin Eakes Wins $100,000 Social Visionary Award

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NEW YORK – Martin Eakes, the creator of Self-Help community development credit unions on both coasts, was named by the Ford Foundation this morning as one of 12 winners of its $100,000 Social Change Visionary awards, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the nation’s largest non-profit foundation.

Eakes, who created the Center for Community Self-Help which operates North Carolina’s Self-Help CU and California’s Self-Help FCU, was cited for his work combating abusive financial practices—predatory home loans, payday lending, and exorbitant checking and credit card fees—that target poor people and trap them in cycles of poverty. The Durham-based Center for Community Self-Help is also the founder and operator of the Center for Responsible Lending, a leading consumer lobby fighting abusive lending practices, and the Self-Help Ventures Fund, which helps finance community development projects.

The Ford Foundation has long been a partner with Eakes and Self-Help. It provided a $50 million grant in 2003 to finance Self-Help’s creation of a secondary market for subprime mortgage loans, and provided a $1.5 million grant last year to help Self-Help expand its start-up California CDCU, which has built to a $350 million Oakland-based credit union in just two years.

Other winners of the $100,000 grant include: Ellen Bravo, creator of Milwaukee’s Family Values@Work project; Steve Barr, founder of the Green DOT Public Schools program helping to reform public schools in Los Angeles; Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala.; Jeremy Heimans, founder of Purpose, a New York City online community working for social change; and Teddy Cruz, co-founder of the Center for Urban Ecologies in San Diego, which works towards a humane vision for metropolitan areas across America.


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