Seeking to Avoid Merger, SF CU Says It Needs $200K By March 15

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SAN FRANCISCO — Mission SF Federal Credit Union says it needs $200,000 over the next two months to keep its doors open, and it is putting out feelers to potential investors.

The credit union did not say the effort is the result of an agreement with regulators, but its year-end statement shows it reported a loss of $238,000 and its net worth ratio is 2.32%, meaning it is "significantly undercapitalized." A spokesperson for MSFFCU said it is also seeking a "turnaround CEO."

Margaret Libby, executive director of the Mission SF Community Financial Center, the non-profit affiliate of the $6.1-million credit union, said she and the CU's board are determined to avoid being snapped up in a merger."We feel committed to remaining independent, so we are working hard to make that happen," she said.

The Mission SF Community Financial Center offers financial education and counseling services that are paired with credit union services. For youth, that means special savings accounts; for adults, loan and savings products paired with financial counseling.

Mission SF FCU has received national recognition for its efforts, but at the same time it is struggling to remain independent. The CU said it must raise $100,000 by Feb. 15, and another $100,000 by March 15. "My sense of where the credit union board is coming from is the biggest priority is how the membership and the community will be best served, and local ownership and local decisionmaking is the best for that," Libby said. "The board feels local leadership is the best way to serve the community and has fought to remain independent."

Another important issue is having a CDCU mission of serving the underserved, she continued. Forty years ago, the credit union was founded by Latino immigrants in San Francisco's Mission District. "And remaining independent honors those immigrants. That group of people could not access financial services and wanted to provide opportunities for those who were shut out of the system."

Because Mission SF FCU-which serves 2,200 members from a single branch-has always had local management, it has been able to respond to changes, Libby asserted. "It is our history to serve the community, and we feel retaining local ownership is the best thing to do."

The credit union held a successful fundraising campaign in 2010, which Libby said was thanks to credit union community. She said in addition to wanting to raise capital, the credit union needs a "turnaround CEO" who can come on site and "help us implement a road map to recovery the board has put in place."

"This economic climate has caused a new environment for all financial institutions," she said. "We want to get back to being the vital financial resource we have been for the last 40 years, and then have another 40 years of community and individual wealth building." Those interested in assisting can contact Libby at 415-984-1799.

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