RCCU Strikes Partnership In Bid To Reach 80,000-Plus Latinos

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Riverside County's Credit Union is partnering with the Desert Alliance for Community Empowerment (DACE) in an attempt to reach out to the Latino community. Latinos make up 97% of this town's 22,000 residents, and there are an additional 62,000 "permanent migratory" workers and families in surrounding areas.

The Riverside, Calif.-based credit union has opened a branch to serve the market, and will work with DACE, which has more than 100 projects in the works focused on economic development, community education, health care and employment, in expanding financial education.

Through a leased agreement with DACE, Riverside County's Credit Union will be renovating and preserving a local landmark, a firehouse located next to the Coachella City Hall. Employees and educators of both organizations will be housed within this first RCCU partnered branch of the "Good Neighbor Services Program." The branch is scheduled to open in early 2004.

The credit union learned of the group during the Latino Credit Union Conference when RCCU officials met David Saldivar, Assistant Director of DACE.

"It was fate that brought us together," said Moritz Wohanka, Vice President of Finance at Riverside County's Credit Union. "We were at the conference looking for a way to extend our services to the Latino market within Riverside County. David Saldivar from DACE attended the conference to gather information on the benefits of credit unions, in an effort to establish a credit union branch in the low-income communities that DACE serves. We crossed paths at a seminar and the rest was history. In the last year we have seen a wealth of possibilities become a reality."

Check Cashing To Be Offered

The branch will offer accessible check cashing services, checking and savings accounts and provide applications for low-interest loans to residents with accepted identification, including the Matricula Consular. More importantly, international remittances (IRNet Wire transfers) or "remesas" will be on-site, therefore allowing members to easily provide monetary benefits to family members in their country of origin.

"In preparation, the credit union has increased the hiring of bilingual employees and will conduct employee sensitivity training in the first quarter of 2004. Additionally, translations of all product brochures, marketing items and website are scheduled to be completed by the end of the first quarter 2004.

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