By developing a credit union branch inside a thrift store that is operated by people with disabilities, FinancialEdge Community Credit Union in Bay City, Mich. is hoping to better reach the low-income people who live in the Bay City area. FinancialEdge’s project is supported by grants from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and the Michigan Credit Union Foundation.
Last July, FinancialEdge opened a branch inside the main facility of Do-All Inc., a Bay City company that helps people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. While this branch, known as “Do-$ave,” is just for Do-All trainees, for the second phase of the project, FinancialEdge is partnering with Do-All to open a branch inside one of its retail thrift stores that will be staffed by Do-All trainees. The new branch celebrated a special groundbreaking ceremony last week.
Jeremy Coberley, president/CEO of FinancialEdge Community CU, left, and Chris Girard, president/CEO of Do-All Inc., cut the ribbon officially opening the FinancialEdge branch inside Do-All's main facility in Bay City. For phase II of the project, FinancialEdge is opening a branch inside one of Do-All's retail stores. It will be staffed by Do-All trainees.
"Being able to partner with our member SEG for the benefit of both our organizations and at the same time support an organization that helps individuals with disabilities is very rewarding," said Jeremy Coberley, President/CEO of FinancialEdge.
“What FinancialEdge is doing in their community is a great example of partnership and the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people,’” said Lois Kitsch, NCUF’s National Program Director.
In the Bay area, there are few financial services for low- and moderate-income households aside from check cashers. According to information released in 2011 by the Michigan League for Human Services and United Way, Bay County has 12% of the population living in poverty, with over 18% of its population on food stamps and nearly ˝ of school aged children on free and reduced lunches. By developing a credit union branch designed to serve these households, FinancialEdge can better serve a segment of the population with low access to financial services in a location they already frequent.
FinancialEdge’s partnership with Do-All has two main goals:
- Provide personal finance education and money related skills for persons with disabilities who manage their own personal finances (either in part or with assistance) in an environment that meets their needs for accommodations to transportation, access, and personal assistance.
- Employ those trainees with a level of job opportunity appropriate to their skill within the credit union as well as cross train those who work in similar money skill based employment such as cashiers for retail and restaurant locations.
Do-All operates three thrift stores known as The Cat's Meow in the Bay City area. The new FinancialEdge branch will be located in the company's largest store in the neighboring town of Essexville.
Do-All Inc. trainee Tim Gentle, left, works with Do-$ave trainees Cole Clinkston and Sarah Lienczewski on depositing a check into his account. Alyssa Hopps, FinancialEdge's liaison at Do-All, is in the background.
The inspirations for the program were two example projects operated between GoodWill Industries and Prospera Credit Union in Wisconsin and San Antonio City Employees Credit Union in Texas. However, FinancialEdge's program takes the project further by providing employment and education opportunities for adults with disabilities by using a student credit union model.
There are no similar programs within Michigan, and to the knowledge of FinancialEdge, it is one of the first partnerships of its kind nationwide. FinancialEdge’s management and board intend to share the program as a replicable model for other credit unions. FinancialEdge is also working so that the project will be self-sustaining within 3 to 5 years.
A Foundation Grant at Work
NCUF grants are made possible by supporters of the Foundation and the Community Investment Fund (CIF), an award-winning system of investments that help credit unions earn dividends while donating to national and state community development programs.
This “Grant at Work” is part of a series highlighting NCUF grantees making a positive impact in their community and empowering consumers to achieve financial freedom through credit unions.
About the National Credit Union Foundation (ncuf.coop):
The National Credit Union Foundation is the US credit union movement’s primary national philanthropic program provider, fundraiser and grant-maker. Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes.
NCUF is funded primarily by investments in the award-winning Community Investment Fund (CIF) and by generous Supporters led by the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual Group. All NCUF donors provide support that empowers NCUF and state credit union foundations to make financial freedom achievable through credit unions.
The National Credit Union Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. NCUF continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an “Accredited Charity” for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.