NCUF Grantee Helping Hispanics Become Financially Literate in Kansas City

Holy Rosary CU’s “Your Finances Today” Program Part of Larger Outreach Effort to Demographic

Holy Rosary Credit Union is making headway in helping their local Hispanic community become financially literate, in large part thanks to “Your Finances Today,” their successful collaborative financial education program.

“I didn’t understand much of what they were learning, but I did clearly understand the cheers and applause that greeted each of the twenty two Spanish-speaking individuals as they received their certificates of graduation upon completing a seven-course personal financial education program,” said Nancy Pierce, field coach for the REAL Solutions® program in Missouri. 

The course entitled “Your Finances Today: Building Your Brighter Financial Future” is just one part of an outreach initiative to bring financial services and skills to the largely unbanked Latino community in Kansas City.  Through a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to the Missouri Credit Union Association, Pierce is working with Holy Rosary Credit Union to develop community partnerships to better serve this market and to document efforts and results, as a case analysis.

“The program at Holy Rosary is but one of several initiatives of the Missouri Credit Union Association in partnership with the National Foundation and their REAL Solutions program to serve low wealth households,” said Don Cohenour, Senior Vice President, Missouri Credit Union Association. “With each single initiative, we hope to build a template that can be repeated in other parts of the state or shared with other states.”

Source: Holy Rosary CU

Instructor Ximena Pacheco and her assistant, Leonel Prato, discuss the basics of credit.

The $10 million Kansas City-based credit union is working with St. Anthony’s Parish Catholic Church to reach Latino parishioners and to gain their trust.  The Reverend Joseph Cisetti of the parish approached Carole Wight, CEO of the credit union in 2009 and requested both financial and educational help for his Latino parishioners.  The result is a growing and strengthening relationship between the church and credit union to perform outreach to meet the financial needs of the Hispanic community. 

The financial education program is among the many efforts the credit union has taken in its outreach efforts.  The two-hour modules were taught over a seven-week time frame.  Dinner and child care were provided at credit union expense.  As a low-income designated credit union, Holy Rosary was given a grant by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to cover the costs of the instruction and development of a curriculum designed for the immigrant market, most of who are of Mexican origin.  Ximena Pacheco, a native of Chile and with a background in personal financial education, constructed the curriculum and taught the classes.  The modules covered the U.S. financial system, credit and budgeting and identity theft.  The final two sessions covered buying a house, funding a college education, and starting a micro-business and were taught by Spanish-speaking experts in those areas.

The participants were identified by Brother Jim Krause of St. Anthony’s as leaders among the Latino parishioners and were encouraged to attend the program, so that they in turn could recommend future courses to other families.  In this way, Holy Rosary and St. Anthony’s hope to continue to reach out, educate and serve a community that is largely unbanked or under-banked. 

The classes offered lively discussion and sharing of information.  “I look forward to these weekly sessions,” commented one participant.  “I’m learning a lot and I hope the information will help my wife and I become homeowners.  That’s a big goal of ours.” 

The final session ended with a graduation ceremony that included a graduation certificate for each participant, a 2% discount on a future loan at Holy Rosary Credit Union, a gift certificate, and cake and ice cream.  A representative from the Federal Reserve Bank and an immigrant herself from Mexico shared her own personal experience with the group about how her lack of personal financial education resulted in a huge burden of financial debt when she graduated from college. 
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About REAL Solutions®
REAL Solutions® is the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation. REAL — ― “Relevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing” — Solutions works to help credit unions offer a wide range of products and services that have proven successful in serving working families with low wealth and modest means. Using product/business models created and tested by credit unions, REAL Solutions disseminates information to credit unions through special meetings, an online impact center at, and state and national conferences. As NCUF’s signature program over the past three years, REAL Solutions has been adopted in 40 states and is saving members tens of millions of dollars. It has now become a documented business strategy for credit unions to grow their memberships by serving the underserved. Real people with real needs are finding REAL Solutions at credit unions.