Last week, representatives from World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU), Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) and its International Partner, Caja Popular Mexicana (CPM), traveled to Dallas, Texas to celebrate Neighborhood Credit Union's designation as the first Juntos Avanzamos credit union. West Texas Credit Union in El Paso and San Antonio City Employees Federal Credit Union also received Juntos Avanzamos flags in ceremonies last week.
TCUL and the Texas International Credit Union Relationship Committee launched the Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance) program – aimed at empowering Texas credit unions to serve their Hispanic market more effectively – in November of 2005. The league first identifies credit unions they believe have the "capacity to serve" and then channels its resources to these specific credit unions to grow their outreach programs. In order to earn the prestigious Juntos Avanzamos designation, credit unions must complete the capacity-to-serve application. The application is quite extensive, requiring information about what products and services the credit union offers to specifically address the needs of this market, as well as what the strategies are for serving this demographic group.
Texas is home to the second largest Hispanic population in the United States, representing about 32 percent of the state's population, according to the 2000 census. In 2002, TCUL partnered with CPM and the California Credit Union League (CCUL) through the WOCCU's International Partnership Program in an effort to learn how to better serve this largely unbanked population. Since that time, the partners have met a number of times to exchange ideas and tools that will enhance the services each of the parties provide to their members.
Upon earning their designation, Juntos Avanzamos credit unions receive 500 free copies of TCUL's Spanish-language brochure entitled Building a Financial Foundation for your Family, which outlines the path to financial freedom, from setting a budget and cash management to financial goals and homeownership. In addition, representatives from TCUL and CPM will present the credit union with a Juntos Avanzamos flag to fly at its doors to let the community know that it is a place they can receive friendly, affordable financial services.
Capacity-to-serve credit unions also have access to grant dollars through the Richard L. Ensweiler Fund. Credit unions can use these funds for programs such as financial education, home buying seminars, participation in Hispanic community events, etc. Finally, these credit unions will have access to educational materials, such as white papers, reports and training events offering guidance on how to best meet the needs of this emerging market.
"I envision this as a program that expands beyond Texas," says Linda Webb- Mañon, TCUL's communications director. "It takes all of us working together to succeed." WOCCU's International Partnerships manager, Victor Corro, adds, "The Texas, California, and Mexico partnership is just one of WOCCU's 19 International Partnerships that proves we can and will make a stronger international system through cooperation and collaboration."
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 51,000 credit unions in 100 countries serve 196 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.