CUNA Planning To Create Hispanic Outreach Resource Center

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CUNA is working to create an Hispanic Outreach resource center to help credit unions reach out to the ever-growing Latino market. The move follows the trade group board's adoption of suggestions from the Hispanic Outreach Task Force.

In addition to establishing nine "guiding principles" about serving the Hispanic market, the task force suggested CUNA establish a resource center that includes a website where members could look for information about serving Latinos, a listserv offering CUs the ability to network and communicate about Hispanic outreach efforts, an interactive file library that would include a variety of best practices and examples to which participating credit unions could post and share files.

"We are suggesting CUNA establish an advisory group to oversee the resource center," said Armando Cavazos, CEO of CU One, Ferndale, Mich., and chair of the Hispanic Outreach Task Force. "We believe this resource center should be available to credit unions for free for at least the first year."

After that, the advisory board could determine if there was a need to establish membership and dues to support the resource center. The task force also envisioned a stand-alone conference on Latino outreach efforts.

"I still remember the decorative plaque that hung in my parents' home," Cavazos related. "It read, 'Mi casa, tu casa.' My home is your home. We hope that the credit union house becomes the house where Hispanic and Latino members will be welcome."

To that end, the CUNA board adopted these nine principles as recommended by the Hispanic Outreach Taskforce:

1. Credit unions have a long tradition of providing high-quality, low-cost financial services to members according to cooperative principles. The growing population of Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. should have the opportunity to benefit from credit union services.

2. Latinos/Hispanics expect the same high level of service that other consumers do. Credit unions are uniquely qualified to provide these services.

3. Although many credit unions do not have a significant group of Latinos/Hispanics in their fields of membership, each credit union has an obligation to determine whether it has Latinos/Hispanics in its field of membership, and if so, to serve them. Credit unions with only a small proportion of Latinos/Hispanics in their fields of membership should consider assisting other credit unions that serve Latinos/Hispanics.

4. Credit unions that serve the Hispanic/Latino market should develop a vision, a mission, cultural intelligence, and a commitment to excellence in reaching out to and serving Latinos/Hispanics.

5. It is consistent with good credit union philosophy to serve Latinos/Hispanics.

6. It is good business for credit union to serve Latinos/Hispanics, both for growth potential and as economically viable members.

7. Credit unions should give every member the same rights-the right to save and the right to borrow.

8. Credit unions should seek to become pacesetters in reaching out to the Latino/Hispanic market.

9. Credit unions that have a significant number of members from any other immigrant or underserved group should seek to apply the underlying principles developed for serving Latinos/Hispanics to reaching out to the other underserved groups. The critical need to increase service to Latinos/Hispanics should not distract credit unions from the need to increase service to other minority and/or lower-income groups.

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