5 Ways Credit Unions Make the World a Better Place
One of the things that defines the Millennial generation and generation Z is a genuine desire to change the world for the better.
Whether it’s working in their communities, advocating for social justice, seeking to improve access to education, supporting small businesses, or working toward a greener future, America’s youth and young adults are at the forefront of making the world a better place.
What many don’t realize, is that credit unions are working right alongside them.
Here are just a few ways that credit unions are working to make the world a better place.
1. Acting Locally
There’s a harsh truth that in some low-income communities, the closest thing to a bank is the local loan shark.
Credit unions have seen this need and have stepped up to make things better. Since the 1970’s, more and more credit unions are qualifying for Low Income Credit Unions (LICU) status.
These credit unions communities where unsteady or low-paying jobs are prevalent, housing is unstable due to a high percentage of rental properties, child care is unavailable, and community members receive their income through Social Security or other social safety net programs.
LICUs serve their communities by:
- Providing small business microloans
- Providing small personal loans
- Offering check cashing and money order services to non-members
- Assist those for whom English is a second language.
By providing financial support in these communities, LICUs are helping people across the country to build a better financial future for themselves and their families.
2. Improving Financial Literacy
Many young adults have difficulty making smart financial decisions because they haven’t received an education in financial literacy, either at home or in school.
Because credit unions are not-for-profit organizations, they take the time to work with their members to make sure that they have built a solid foundation of financial literacy for their future.
Credit unions invest in educating the next generation. Many credit unions have created programs that reach out to students from kindergarten to college. These programs teach financial literacy when it can have the most impact and are helping to create a whole new generation of fiscally responsible young adults.
3. Serve Local Communities
Because credit unions are located in a specific community, they have a vested interest in improving lives of their residents. This can take the form of:
- Donations to local non-profits focused on poverty reduction, affordable housing, health and human services, and arts and culture.
- College scholarships for students in need of financial aid.
- Grants and gift certificates to help students to purchase computers and other educational items that may be difficult to afford otherwise.
Because this involvement is rooted in the community, it often goes beyond donating money. It also serves to create partnerships between organizations and local businesses that help both to thrive.
4. Encouraging Small Business
Small businesses employ 50 percent of the country’s private sector workforce and can account for 70 percent of new jobs.
That’s why, as more and more Americans make the shift from employee to entrepreneur, credit unions are supporting small businesses across the country.
They do this by providing loans to SBA certified businesses such as MBEs (Minority Business Enterprises), WBE (Women Business Enterprises), and DBEs (Disadvantaged Business Enterprises).
They also understand the challenges that small businesses are facing, and for that reason can provide favorable terms and flexibility that a small business needs to get started.
More than that, credit unions can serve as a nexus for small businesses to share resources and collaborate to help each other grow.
5. Going Green
When it comes to banking green, credit unions are also leading the way. Credit unions invest locally and more and more are looking to invest in sustainable industries.
Not only that, many credit unions are offering “green loans.” These loans are designed to help homeowners, developers, communities, and small businesses to become more energy efficient, invest in green construction, and create a smaller carbon footprint.
Also, because credit unions are in the community, it’s easier to walk or bike there. That saves gas, cuts carbon, and even makes you a little healthier.