DES MOINES, Iowa–The movement has added another Juntos Avanzamos-designated credit union—Community 1st Credit Union in Ottumwa, Iowa.
The designation, which translates to “Together, we advance,” is a national recognition of the work and commitment made to offer financial services to the Hispanic community. Miriam De Dios, CEO of Hispanic consumer strategy firm Coopera, and Guadalupe Sanchez Salazar, Consulate General of Mexico, joined other local dignitaries in Ottumwa, Iowa, to celebrate the designation with the $575-million Community 1st in early May.
“For many Hispanics, navigating the U.S. financial system can be challenging,” said De Dios, who was recently named Latino Business Person of the Year by the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa. “Credit unions make the process easier. Community 1st is leading the way and hopes to inspire other credit unions around the country to realize the importance of embracing Hispanic community initiatives.”
Community 1st is the first credit union in Iowa to receive the designation, which Coopera and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions recently expanded into a nationwide program. The cooperative worked with Coopera to set a strategic plan for becoming a fair, dignified and affordable option for the local Hispanic community, Coopera explained.
De Dios pointed to Community 1st as an “exemplary financial institution” that understands the importance of achieving internal readiness before launching into a Hispanic growth strategy. Notably, 10% of the CU’s more than 200 employees are bilingual, she said.
“As a credit union, we have a mission to serve underserved populations,” said Anne Hagen, Community 1st vice president of marketing. “We — all credit unions — are not-for-profit institutions. Part of our ‘profits,’ we give back to the community.”
“Most credit union leaders are aware of the growing Hispanic population in their fields of membership, yet they are unsure how to begin serving this young, fast-growing, influential community,” said De Dios. “Half the battle is developing the right mindset within the credit union. The ultimate achievement is a collective state of mind in which the entire organization believes serving the Hispanic community is not only the right thing to do, but also a profitable, priority business strategy.”
The Federation’s Pablo DeFilippi, EVP of membership and development services, added, “Juntos Avanzamos is an effective platform for helping position credit unions as the natural choice for Hispanics and immigrant consumers.”