A credit union that aims to create financial equity and economic mobility for underserved and underbanked individuals and families has opened in Lancaster.
A grand opening was held this month for the inaugural branch of Community First Fund Credit Union, 51 South Duke St. – launched by Community First Fund, an independent nonprofit community loan fund.
“We’ve served Lancaster for 30 years by providing access to credit to entrepreneurs who want to make positive change in the community,” said Daniel Betancourt, president and CEO of Community First Fund and the credit union, in a statement. communicated. “With the credit union, our mission is to provide a pathway to financial stability for families.”
According to information on its website, Community First Fund’s mission is to create financial equity through wealth-building opportunities for individuals, families, and business owners, especially people of color, women and immigrants.
The credit union provides access to consumer financial products and education that improve personal financial stability and provide opportunities to obtain affordable, quality housing, according to a news release about the branch opening.
Community First Fund Credit Union was licensed by the National Credit Union Administration in June 2021 and offers personal savings and checking accounts, business checking accounts, and business and personal loans.
In planning to start a credit union, Community First Fund considered national data that shows 27% of households in the United States are either unbanked or underbanked, while nearly 50% of black households and 46 % of Latino households are unbanked or underbanked.
Unbanked, according to Community First Fund, refers to those who have no savings or checking account, while underbanked means they have bank accounts but depend on alternative financial services like money orders, shops check cashing or pawnbroking.
Community First Fund said it partnered with the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College – surveying Lancaster County residents to understand the local need and demand for a credit union.
“The survey showed that there is a need to enhance financial mobility for families and that the creation of a financial hub would help foster financial fairness and economic prosperity,” the press release said.
Community First Fund has received funding from private donors, local foundations and national banking partners including M&T Bank and Santander Bank.
M&T has committed $1 million over the next five years to help Community First Fund Credit Union expand access to banking and other financial services. She has supported the Community First Fund for over 20 years.
“It is about expanding access to banking and other financial services to communities in the region that have been underbanked for years. This is a transformative moment that could help uplift the entire community,” Tom Koppmann, M&T Bank Regional President for Southeast Pennsylvania, said in a statement.
Santander was the first banking partner to commit significant funds to launch the credit union, according to Community First Fund.
“Investing in projects that help build strong and healthy communities is a key priority for Santander Bank, and we are proud to be a long-time supporter of Community First Fund,” said Seth Goodall, Executive Director, Social Accountability companies for Santander Bank. statement. He added that the establishment of Community First Fund Credit Union in Lancaster is a significant improvement for the community.
Membership in Community First Fund Credit Union is open to those who live, work, attend school or worship in Lancaster County. For more information visit www.communityfirst.com
As a private, independent community development finance institution, Community First Fund strives to provide capital where it is not usually available. Founded in 1992 as the Susquehanna Valley Community Development Loan Fund, the organization became Community First Fund in 1996.
Between 2001 and 2016, Community First Fund offices were opened in Reading, York, Harrisburg and Allentown, according to a schedule on the organization‘s website.
In 2018 Community First expanded to Philadelphia with the formation of the Kensington Lending Partnership, and in 2020 Community First Fund and FINANTA – a Philadelphia-based CDFI – partnered to create an organization that serves an expanded region of 20 counties. .
For more information about Community First Fund, visit www.communityfirstfund.org.