Credit unions recognized with FHLB awards

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Credit unions throughout the west and in Iowa have been recognized with the Strong Communities Award from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines.

A coalition of credit unions from throughout the western United States was honored for the Get REAL financial reality Fairs, which reached more than 5,600 students.

The winning CUs are:

  • Alaska USA Federal Credit Union
  • Aloha Pacific FCU
  • Credit Union 1
  • Hawaiian Tel FCU
  • Hawaii USA FCU
  • Kauai Government Employees FCU
  • Northern Skies FCU
  • Tongass FCU

“We’re excited to award the Financial Reality Foundation our Strong Communities Award,” Mike Wilson, president and chief executive officer, FHLB Des Moines, said in a statement “The Get REAL Financial Reality Fair project has had a positive impact in their communities, and we hope this award will ensure its continued success.”

Created five years ago, the Strong Communities Award is aimed at honoring projects, people and programs “that promote local small business growth and retention,” according to FHLB.

“It is an honor to receive the Strong Communities Award,” Karina Wentworth, executive director of the Financial Reality Foundation said in a statement. “The Get REAL Financial Realty Fairs are critical to achieving future financial success for students. These fairs provide valuable experience with real-life budgeting and we’re excited to continue our support of these learning opportunities.”

The winners were determined by a public vote and the two winning groups will both receive $15,000 for their projects.

Iowan immigrants

Muscatine, Iowa-based Ascentra Credit Union was also honored for its Newcomers Initiative, an asset-building program that helps immigrants and refugees pay for immigration-related services such as residency and naturalization permits, and more.

The program provides loans – priced at 3.15 percent – to help members pay for those services while improving their credit score and introducing them to “mainstream” financial services.

Alvaro C. Macias, assistant vice president of community development at Ascentra CU, told Credit Union Journal that Ascentra CU funds these programs primarily by leveraging various grants it has received.

They also offer financial education and literacy programs for immigrants.

Macias explained that most immigrants who have arrived in Iowa hail from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

“In the Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois region that Ascentra Credit Union serves, the largest number of immigrants are from Latin America, but we too have a growing immigrant population from other parts of the world such as Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Myanmar,” Macias said.

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