CU Forms: A New Kind of Revolution– Together We Advance
Credit unions all over the United States are taking part in a movement towards serving the underserved, specifically by applying for a designation known as Juntos Avanzamos. This prestigious designation stems from a realization of the need for services that assist and empower the Hispanic community financially. It is a program that reaches Hispanic members by assisting them in learning about the financial system, and providing them with important and affordable financial services, among other things. Juntos Avanzamos or “Together We Advance,” is a designation that was originally developed and deployed in 2005 by the Cornerstone Credit Union League which consists of credit unions from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
In 2005, the program was initially created as immigrant outreach to serve the continually growing Hispanic market in Texas, and through the formation of the Cornerstone League, it grew to Oklahoma. The plan was to first focus on the Southwest, which originally included the California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues, the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, and the Mountain West Credit Union Association. With its proven excellence in Oklahoma and Texas, the Cornerstone League worked in conjunction with consultants to the credit union industry on the growing Hispanic market, including Coopera to bring the program to national attention, which it finally accomplished in the fall of 2015.
The credit unions aiming to achieve this designation recognize the importance of serving the underserved portion of the population, because they especially need the kind of personal attention and service that credit unions can provide. Juntos Avanzamos is a way to qualify these credit unions as Hispanic friendly, and the flag that they fly once designated signals to the community that they are able and ready to service the underserved. This program connects Hispanic immigrants who need trustworthy financial services with these credit unions who are ready to serve. The application process is quite rigorous to ensure only completely qualified credit unions are handed this designation. Some of the requirements include that the applying credit union must have the ability to communicate bilingually, provide Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) lending options, and have educational programs for clients toward a goal of financial literacy and a heart for advancing the financial livelihood of the Hispanic community.
Juntos Avanzamos has the ability to serve so many in the national Hispanic community. In Texas, the Hispanic people make up 32% of the population. In Los Angeles County there are 10 million people: 3.5 million of those are Mexican-American, 1.5 million of these Mexican-Americans are foreign born, and 500,000 of those are undocumented immigrants. This shows a small glimpse of the scope of the underserved population that these credit unions all over the United States are reaching out to. As of November 2015 and since its birth in 2005, Juntos Avanzamos has designated over 40 credit unions in the United States. Neighborhood Credit Union in Dallas, Texas, West Texas Credit Union (now Security Service Federal Credit Union) in El Paso, Texas, and San Antonio City Employees Federal Credit Union (now Generations Federal Credit Union) were the first of these back in 2006. Vantage West Credit Union was the first credit union outside of the Cornerstone League to join in September 2015 and SCE Federal Credit Union was the first to be designated in California in November 2015. This year in February, 2016 Community 1st Credit Union in Ottumwa, Iowa was designated.
"California/Nevada Leagues in Partnership with Federation on Juntos Avanzamos Project." CUToday.info. N.P., 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 22 March 2016.
Chang, Jason. "Juntos Avanzamos." National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. N.P., N.D. Web. 22 March 2016.
"Texas Credit Union League Raises First Juntos Avanzamos Flag." World Council of Credit Unions. N.P., 30 Jan. 2006. Web. 22 March 2016.
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