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  • Reform to Create Completely New Lending Market

    Posted by on August 6, 2013

    This blog contains excerpts from the recently published article “Path to Citizenship Will Lead Members to Your Door” in Credit Union Magazine.

    With an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S., immigration reform will have a tremendous impact on the economy — particularly the financial services industry. Like many American businesses and organizations, credit unions stand to benefit from an immigration reform bill, particularly as it relates to helping immigrants as they travel the path to citizenship. Credit union leaders who think strategically about membership growth can’t afford to ignore the important step many Americans are pushing their legislators to take.

    In the most basic sense, credit unions will find a completely new market for lending products in the wake of immigration reform.

    Here’s how: Today, the filing fee for the application to naturalization through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has reached $680 per person, and families often have several individuals going through the process at once. Unfortunately, this can be the least of the all the necessary expenses, which may include filing fees for temporary residence, permanent residency or legal fees. In fact, some families pay upwards of $10,000 when all is said and done for just one individual to adjust his or her immigration status.

    Whereas U.S.-born consumers may not think twice about using traditional financial institutions to save and borrow to pay for fees associated in gaining citizenship, a Hispanic immigrant may not think this is even an option. With check-cashers, money order providers, and friends or family fronting loans, credit unions often are not even considered by Hispanic immigrants.

    Credit unions can change this — now is the perfect time for Hispanics to be introduced to the credit union difference.

    A critical first step is establishing trust. Credit unions must work within their local communities to begin to build the relationships that will grow over time. Credit unions already working with Hispanic communities certainly have a leg up — grassroots community initiatives often yield a higher return than extensive media campaigns.

    One of the best grassroots efforts to start with is culturally relevant financial education sessions that take into account how Hispanic immigrants handle their money today and shows them better alternatives that help them achieve financial success. These are particularly beneficial for credit unions looking to serve immigrant families who are not only going through the immigration and naturalization process, but who are simply going through the stages of life that require a sound financial partner.

    It’s this kind of outreach that ultimately allows credit unions to plant the seeds of trust that grow into loyal, life-long memberships.

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    Celebrating Four Years Together

    Posted by on July 16, 2013

    Happy anniversary to Coopera and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA)!

    Four years ago, we formed a strategic growth alliance to help credit unions expand their Hispanic market outreach efforts. Since the alliance formed, both organizations have leveraged each other’s strengths — Coopera’s Hispanic market expertise and CUNA’s extensive resources — to help America’s credit unions grow membership opportunities by reaching and serving Hispanics.

    As a testament to this, our organizations have been able to reach more than 200 credit unions with our collective resources, and in turn, those credit unions have been able to serve thousands of Hispanic members with our help.

    Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve accomplished together so far:
    El Poder es Tuyo, a member-facing, Spanish-language website designed to improve financial literacy
    – On-demand training courses
    – Spanish seminar-in-a-box kits
    – Free educational webinars
    – Hispanic online resource portal
    – Social media efforts, including a special discussion group on LinkedIn

    And, we’re not stopping there!

    We have several joint initiatives planned for our anniversary year, including:
    – Conducting a pre-conference workshop in partnership with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions for America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC)
    – Celebrating Coopera Founder Warren Morrow as this year’s Credit Union Hero through Credit Union Magazine
    Planning an emerging markets-focused educational track, in partnership with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, for the Community Credit Union and Growth Conference
    – Coordinating the launch of the Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund through the National Credit Union Foundation to provide grants to credit unions to reach and serve the Hispanic community

    We are so pleased to have been working alongside such a well-respected, reputable organization like CUNA for the last four years. By working together, we have truly been able to positively influence the growth and direction of the credit union industry. We look forward to what we’ll accomplish together in the future!

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    Vote for Morrow!

    Posted by on April 9, 2013

    Please join us in voting for Warren Morrow, founder and late CEO of Coopera, to be the recipient of Credit Union Magazine’s 2013 “CU Hero of the Year” award. The four nominees for this year’s award exemplify the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” and have truly gone the extra mile to extend credit union service in their communities.

    Mr. Morrow founded Coopera with the belief that Hispanics need credit unions as much as credit unions need Hispanics.  He believed deeply in helping underserved Hispanics receive dignified financial services. By bringing financial stability to a home, Mr. Morrow believed, you could begin to address other social issues. Sadly, Mr. Morrow passed away in February, 2012.

    To learn more about Mr. Morrow, read A Man of Integrity, written by Mark Condon, CUNA’s Senior Vice President, Business and Consumer Publishing, as well as Credit Union Magazine’s recent article on Mr. Morrow “Latino CU Visionary Leaves Legacy.”

    Help us honor Mr. Morrow as “CU Hero of the Year,” CLICK HERE TO VOTE TODAY! No login needed. Voting is open until May 17.

    Please help us spread the word by sharing the message through your personal network and social media connections. Thank you!

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    Hispanic Influence Felt More Strongly

    Posted by on December 4, 2012

    The 2012 elections demonstrated the growing power of Hispanic Americans in the United States. Both Gustavo Gruber, Coopera VP and I have been excited to watch media take note of this influence. Each of us were recently asked by both Credit Union Magazine and The Des Moines Register to address the cultural impact evidenced by the recent democratic process. Below are brief recaps of our thoughts on this exciting development.

    As told to the Des Moines Register: The face of the American voter is changing and we — Hispanics — have more influence. With one out of six U.S. residents being Hispanic and Hispanic purchasing power exceeding 1 trillion, it’s no surprise.

    Hispanic-owned small businesses are growing at over twice the rate of the national average — estimated to be more than $350 billion in revenue annually — and these entrepreneurs advocate for issues such as access to capital, affordable healthcare and policies that will continue to improve the U.S. economy so that they can continue to expand their businesses and create jobs.

    Catering to the Hispanic population is not only important to the strategic growth of credit unions, it is important to our country as a whole.

    As contributed to Credit Union Magazine: The Hispanic community is not a monolithic market — Hispanics are not all Mexican, but rather come from diverse races, nationalities, and ethnicities representing 21 Latin American countries, or 22 when Spain is included. However, most Spaniards do not consider themselves Hispanics as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Hispanics come to this country for economic, political and family reasons, among others, and always with the intention to return home in two or three years, when the reason that brought them to the U.S. is resolved. This scenario creates a situation that slows down assimilation while intensifies acculturation.

    Therefore, the person holds on strongly to their own culture while trying to adapt to the American way of life.

    Credit unions have recognized the importance of this growing market and many have been very strategic about developing strategies to attract and serve this community.

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