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  • Juntos Avanzamos Lives Up to Its ‘Together We Advance’ Meaning

    Posted by on December 5, 2016

    More credit union people than ever before are talking about Juntos Avanzamos, the national designation awarded to U.S. credit unions making a strategic effort to serve the Hispanic community. The designation was initially developed by the Cornerstone Credit Union League in the states of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma and has now been rolled out nationally by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation).

    A big reason for all the chatter is the program’s explosive growth. Just 15 months after the program went national, 32 more credit unions in 15 states have earned the designation. By the end of 2017, the program is expected to reach 100 credit unions in 20 states.


    A spirited evening organized by the Federation and the Consulate General of Mexico.

    Coopera, along with many national league partners and the Federation, recently celebrated this growth at the Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas, Texas. It was a spirited evening organized by the Federation and the Consulate during which passionate credit union folks all came together to recognize the connections being built between credit unions and the youngest and fastest-growing consumer segment in the U.S.

    Cervera Company dancers performed for attendees.

    Cervera Company dancers performed for attendees.

    The event was part of CUNA’s Community Credit Union Conference and the Federation’s Annual Conference, at which I was also honored to sit on a panel with Francisco de la Torre Galindo, General Consul, Mexico General Consulate. Before an audience of credit unions from across the country (many of which were CDFI certified or low-income designated), we talked about the growing network of Juntos Avanzamos credit unions. Among the specifics we discussed were…

    How credit unions can partner with the Mexican Consulate to further provide accessible financial services to Mexican nationals.

    The various resources offered by the Mexican Consulate to Mexican nationals.

    The demographics of the market and how Hispanics continue to be one of the largest, fastest-growing, youngest and most financially untapped markets in the U.S.

    Overcoming common concerns related to opening accounts for foreign nationals and offering loans to individuals with individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

    How to develop a strategy to serve the Hispanic community for those that are looking to expand into this market. Success stories of Juntos Avanzamos-designated credit unions.

    We are committed to keeping the Juntos Avanzamos ball rolling. We will continue the conversation at a special roundtable at CUNA’s GAC Conference on February 28, 2017 (more details soon). Please also remember the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals (NLCUP) is hosting its annual network reception at the National Press Club from noon to 2:00 p.m. that same day. Juntos Avanzamos will have a big spotlight shone at it at our industry’s most important conference!

    Visit the Federation’s website for more information about the Juntos Avanzamos designation.

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    Coopera, CUNA Join Forces for Bilingual Advocacy

    Posted by on October 8, 2013

    Coopera and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) are working together on another exciting initiative this year. Together, the two companies are engaging in bilingual political advocacy with the launch of “No Le Cobren Impuestos a Mi Credit Union” (the Spanish-language version of the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign).

    This endeavor with Coopera is a part of CUNA’s effort to involve its Spanish-speaking members in political advocacy that affects all communities across the country, including Hispanic communities. With language no longer a barrier, Spanish speakers will now be able to engage in important advocacy and political issues that affect their credit unions.

    These issues affect all of us. At a time when Congress has made broad-based tax reform a major priority, it is more important than ever that all the voices of all our members are heard equally,” said Bill Cheney, president and CEO of CUNA.

    The “No Le Cobren Impuestos a Mi Credit Union” campaign will include a Spanish-language toolkit, video message, action center and website. This campaign will also have all of the elements of the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign, including:

    •         Website www.NoImpuestosAMiCU.org
    •         Form letters on a Spanish action center for members to easily send to members of Congress
    •         Print advertisements
    •         A translated version of the take action toll-free number
    •         Instructions for social media engagement
    •         A Spanish-version logo
    •         Posters, statements, stuffers, fliers and much more

    The addition of Spanish language advocacy is the latest development in this large-scale, nationwide grassroots-mobilization campaign urging America’s 96 million credit union members to deliver a united message to Congress: “Don’t Tax My Credit Union.”

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    Emerging Markets a Hot Topic at ACUC

    Posted by on August 26, 2013

    Panelists (left to right) Carole Wight (Holy Rosary CU), Maria Martinez (Border Federal CU), Bishop Taylor (ERDA), ERDA staff member

    I recently attended the America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC) in New York City where I had the opportunity, in partnership with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation), to coordinate and participate in a pre-conference workshop on emerging markets. Coopera also had the chance to host a breakout session titled “Multidimensional Hispanic Market – A Different Model of Assimilation.”

    With more than 100 people in attendance at these two events, emerging markets proved to be a hot topic with 2013 conference attendees.

    Here’s a quick recap of what was presented…

    During the pre-conference workshop, three different panel-based events provided the audience with background and opinions on the importance of serving emerging markets (defined as the underserved, immigrant and minority populations) as an opportunity for credit union growth. Panelists included:

    In the breakout session, we shared how to view the Hispanic community through the lens of the acculturation and assimilation processes. For reference, acculturation refers to the preservation of one’s birth culture and the addition of another culture. Assimilation refers to the replacement of one’s birth culture by another. At Coopera, we see that Hispanics are creating a new model in which they are more likely to create a bicultural and bilingual identity.

    During both sessions, many attendees wanted to understand why more credit unions are not embracing the Hispanic market opportunity.

    Our belief is that a lack of clear understanding of the market — essentially, a fear of the unknown — often creates a sort of marketing paralysis. This makes it difficult for credit unions to know when or how to engage. A lack of relevant marketing intelligence also contributes to this fear. Credit unions do not have a sufficient amount of data to support their development of an emerging markets strategy.

    Our goal with these sessions was to help provide attendees with a better understanding of the Hispanic community from a multidimensional perspective. We did this by providing ideas on how to get started with outreach efforts, as well showcasing some of the available data to support the emerging-markets business case.

    Both sessions received high ratings from attendees, proving how important the topic of emerging markets is to the credit union industry right now. Some of feedback we got included:

    “Very informative marketing tools and distinction between assimilation versus acculturation.”

    ‘Very educational and informative.”

    “This was outstanding and enlightening, revealing the complexity of the Hispanic community that I was no aware of. Thanks.”

    Armed with useful data and a better understanding of the market potential, we hope conference attendees and their colleagues will begin to eliminate the barriers that stop them from developing emerging markets strategies. By doing the research and then empowering their leaders, credit unions can find tremendous success and growth from among these critical market segments.

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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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    Common Misconceptions about Cinco de Mayo & the Hispanic Culture

    Posted by on April 16, 2013

    Sometimes referred to as the “Mexican St. Patrick’s Day,” Cinco de Mayo (held each year on May 5th) is one of the most misunderstood holidays we celebrate in the U.S., even by people of Mexican heritage.

    Despite its reputation, Cinco de Mayo does not mark Mexico’s Independence Day. That is celebrated on September 16, the day in 1810 when Father Miguel Hidalgo took to his pulpit in Dolores, Querétaro, and urged his congregation to join him in efforts to overthrow the Spanish tyranny in Mexico. The celebration is also known in Mexico as El Grito de Dolores or “Cry of Dolores.”

    Cinco de Mayo is actually a regional holiday in Mexico, called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla, celebrating Mexico’s victory over the French on May 5, 1862, during the Battle of Puebla in the American Civil War. Although Cinco de Mayo is a big holiday in Puebla, it is actually celebrated more in the U.S. than it is in most of Mexico. In the U.S., Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with parades and festivals that offer plenty of traditional Mexican food, cold beverages and music for participants. The holiday has really become more about celebrating the Mexican way of life than about remembering a battle that happened 150 years ago in Mexico.

    Just as there is a misconception about Cinco de Mayo, there are also common misconceptions about Hispanics and the Hispanic culture of which credit unions looking to better serve this market should be aware. These include:

    – All Hispanics are Mexican. “Hispanic” is a U.S. Census term often used to refer to people of Latin American and Spanish origin regardless of race. U.S. Hispanics have roots in 21
    Latin American countries, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, South or Central America. Some areas of the U.S. have higher population concentrations of Mexicans, like California and Texas, but others like New York have a stronger Puerto Rican and Dominican presence.

    All Hispanics are Catholic. About 62 percent of Hispanics are Catholic, but there is a growing conversion rate from Catholicism to other religions. In fact, the Mormon church recently reported the number of Spanish-speaking Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregations in the U.S. rose from 389 in 2000 to more than 760 at present. According to a Pew Hispanic survey, 83 percent of Hispanics claim a religious affiliation, and one in five (19 percent) say they are Protestant. Fourteen percent of Hispanics say that although they are religious, they are unaffiliated with a particular religion.

    Hispanics speak several different forms of Spanish. While not all Hispanics speak Spanish, Spanish is the overarching language for many Latin American countries. According to Pew Research, more than 80 percent of Hispanic adults say they speak Spanish. Even though there are cultural nuances in the Spanish language, there are not completely different forms of the language in Latin American countries — the basic language structure of Spanish is shared.

    That said, there may be different colloquialisms or words, phrases or statements, unique to a certain culture or region. To best serve your local Hispanic community, it is important to learn the make-up of the local population. Coopera can help with a comprehensive market analysis.

    Rest assured, however, the basics of the Spanish language will be understood by your Hispanic members regardless of the Latin American country from which they hail.

    All Hispanics are poor immigrants. Not all Hispanics are immigrants (foreign nationals born outside of the U.S.), and the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were over 2.1 million Hispanics in the U.S. with personal income over $65,000 in 2011. Today, the U.S. Hispanic population is made up of multiple generations of people from different countries of origin, from different income levels and different life experiences. Each Hispanic in the U.S. today can claim his/her own characteristics, beliefs and behaviors.

    The Hispanic market in the U.S. is rapidly growing and changing, which presents important opportunities for credit unions that invest the time and resources in preparation for further expansion. One way to learn more, and to prepare your staff, is by investing in a resource like CUNA’s training-on-demand resource Hispanic Immigration Course. By becoming more familiar with the nuances of the Hispanic population, credit unions will be better positioned to provide for these members’ needs.

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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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    Latino Conference Sheds Light on CU Opportunity

    Posted by on July 10, 2012

    Earlier this month, the Network of Latino Credit Unions & Professionals (NLCUP) hosted the 7th Latino Credit Union Conference June 15 to 17, 2012. Coopera was honored to play a role in the conference and came home renewed in the passionate pursuit of our mission.

    Aside from an excellent historic perspective on the U.S. Hispanic community, the conference exposed attendees to an array of information, ranging from techniques for adapting services to the Hispanic community all the way to important legal and regulatory issues relevant to this marketplace.

    My personal takeaways from the conference were…

    – Our credit union industry partners are more committed than ever to provide credit unions the resources they need to serve the Hispanic community, as expressed by CUNA’s Board Chairman Mike Mercer, CUNA’s Hispanic Outreach Committee Lead Mark Condon and NLCUP’s Board Chairman Maria Martinez.

    – The statistics and demographic information are more compelling than ever and provide credit unions a strong business case for serving our largely underserved Hispanic community.

    – Credit unions seeking to enter the space of Hispanic outreach are not alone. Latino Conference attendees varied in asset sizes, geographic locations and level of Hispanic outreach programs.

    – There are many resources available for credit unions seeking to serve Hispanics from services provided by Coopera, CUNA and NLCUP.

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    Cheers to Coopera’s First Five Years … and Beyond!

    Posted by on April 24, 2012

    By Guest Blogger and Interim Coopera CEO Murray Williams

    At Coopera 2007 launch with Warren Morrow, Max Cardenas & Miriam De Dios

    Coopera celebrated its five-year anniversary last week. Not an insignificant milestone – and one we would normally toast with gusto. But the day took on a more reflective and bittersweet tone, as we remembered Coopera’s founder and our friend, Warren Morrow, who unexpectedly passed away on Feb. 15.

    Warren was not only Coopera’s CEO, he was my good friend and close colleague for more than six years. We shared a lot of special milestones together – both professionally and personally. So yesterday was emotional for me, Miriam, Anna and the rest of the team, knowing this time we’d be toasting with Warren from afar.

    We all carry a piece of Warren’s spirit with us. I am unequivocally better for knowing him and proud to have a small role in moving his vast legacy forward. There’s never been a more critical time to champion Coopera’s work of “doing well by doing good.”

    Miriam and I recently participated in CUNA’s Government Affairs Conference and came back energized about the future. From CUNA’s Hispanic Outreach Committee efforts, to the programs of the Network of Latino Credit Union Professionals (NLCUP), to the countless credit union leaders who are making Hispanic outreach a strategic priority, the thought leadership in our movement is astounding. We’ve never felt more momentum or urgency in our collective cause.

    In fact, it was Warren’s cause, as well as his vision and his collaborative spirit that has largely brought our industry to where it is today – to bring dignified financial services to the underserved Hispanic community.

    The future is incredibly bright. The need is great. Credit unions are uniquely positioned to meet that need. And Coopera will be there to help lead the charge – now and for years into the future.

    Warren would be proud.

    Happy Anniversary, mi amigo.



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