Idaho's CUs In Joint Plan To Reach Hispanics

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Idaho's credit unions have joined with the Idaho Migrant Council to offer free financial education to Hispanic consumers in the state.

The program follows a meeting in early 2002 among state leagues in eight western states agreed to cooperate in the development of a financial education project-branded the Economic Power Project-aimed at serving the unbanked or underserved, minority populations in their respective states. This includes those individuals who have never established a relationship with a regulated financial institution due to social, cultural, financial or other barriers, the groups said.

The state leagues worked with the National Credit Union Foundation on an application for a federal grant from the U.S. Treasury Department under its inaugural "First Accounts" program, ultimately winning a $38,000 grant.

"The focus of this grant and others made to the participating leagues is an 18-month, multi-state financial education project designed to actively assist the unbanked and underserved populations in these states by giving them the knowledge necessary to gain access to credit and basic financial services through the credit union movement," the Idaho league reported.

In its case, the Idaho league said it is expecting that at the conclusion of this 18-month project, more than 750 unbanked individuals in Idaho will establish relationships with a regulated financial institution.

The program is using portions of the "Money Smart" curriculum (in both English and Spanish versions) developed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to include a variety of topics.

In addition, the project's identified target populations will gain access to affordable international money transfer services at greatly reduced costs through several Idaho credit union via the World Council of Credit Unions' IRnet program.

Among the Idaho participants are Canco Credit Union, Idadiv Credit Union and Quinco Credit Union in the Nampa-Caldwell area, and Mountain View Credit Union in Garden City.

Since beginning the program in April, the Idaho league reported that 10 Spanish language financial education classes have been conducted through the Idaho Migrant Council, reaching nearly 100 people.

"Many of these are individuals within the Hispanic community who are not using mainstream financial providers and are therefore easy prey to businesses that charge exorbitant fees for check cashing, small loans and money transmission services," the league noted.

Over the course of the next year, the project will be expanded throughout Southern and Eastern Idaho to provide financial education to the Hispanic populations in those areas.

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