Grant Funding Used To Add 4,000 Members

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Over the past 18 months, the use of funding from the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Treasury Department has helped four California credit unions to add more than 4,000 people who previously had no relationship with a financial institution.

According to the California league, most of those added were Latino and low-income. The four CUs (see left) have also reached more than 7,800 primarily low-income Californians through workshops, community events, and financial counseling sessions presented in English and Spanish, the league reported.

The NCUF administers the Treasury Department grants, made through the department's First Accounts program. The NCUF funds projects that provide access to quality, affordable financial services for low-income, ethnic and other un- or under-serviced groups, that improve consumer financial literacy, and that help consumers accumulate assets.

The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation signed an agreement to oversee the administration of both projects. Staff from UCLA and the California league presented the grant concept to the Ford Foundation, with the RMJ Foundation coordinating the participating CUs' efforts.

The project seeks to make account holders of people who, due to social, cultural or literacy barriers, have never established a relationship with a financial institution, and provide them with free education in managing their finances, with the goal of establishing good credit. Some of the educational workshops held by the credit unions were specifically focused on the process of home ownership.

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