Credit Union Organizers Want North Minneapolitans to ‘Feel at Home’

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This article first appeared on CUCollaborate

The nation was horrified when George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

When video surfaced showing a police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, the nation was stunned.

But for a group of black residents, the incident was a galvanizing moment that motivated them to work even harder to establish Arise Community Credit Union, a Black-led financial institution that aims to serve North Minneapolis.

“It was one of the catalysts,” said Debra Hurston, executive director of the Association for Black Economic Power, which is leading the effort to start the credit union. She added, however, that the murder was not an isolated incident, but was a symptom of larger problems.

She said that those problems are deeply rooted.

The murder and its aftermath shook the community, said Dan Johnson, the CEO designee of the credit union.

“But first, we had to let the smoke clear,” he added.

The proposed credit union, which is awaiting approval of a state charter, will serve people who live, work, worship or go to school in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, as well as their families.

Johnson has served in a variety of positions at Wells Fargo in business and consumer banking. Most recently, he served as branch manager at GEICO Insurance.

Hurston is a nationally Certified Association Executive. Her focus has been on association governance, advocacy, fundraising, and membership services.

The effort to establish the credit union and to obtain a state charter and federal share insurance has taken several years.

In 2019, ABEP pulled its state charter application from the Minnesota Department of Commerce after its executive director was fired for allegations of financial misconduct.

“We did not lose support from our community and from our funders,” Hurston said.

Johnson said one of the motivating factors is the prevalence of payday lenders in North Minneapolis. “We want to combat that payday lender with our own loan,” he added.

And countering traditional financial institutions that might decline to deal with low-income people, Johnson said, “The model would be a slow ‘yes’ rather than a fast ‘no,’” he said. “It all starts with financial wellness.”

Credit union organizers have submitted their application to state regulators, have received questions and answered them. “We have had an army of people to put together a stellar application,” Hurston said.

Meanwhile, they are seeking operating capital.

Johnson and Hurston said the credit union will have a phased-in opening, with the financial institution’s first services including checking and savings accounts, as well as used car loans, same-day loans and other consumer services.

But most importantly, Hurston said they aim to establish a credit union that serves people who otherwise might not feel comfortable at a bank or credit union.

“We want them to feel welcomed and at home,” she added.

Author

  • David Baumann

    David Baumann established and edited the Washington Credit Union Daily website before it was put on hiatus while he served as the editor of the regulatory and legislative blog at CUCollaborate. Before starting Washington Credit Union Daily, David was the Washington correspondent for the Credit Union Times. A veteran Washington reporter, he has spent his career writing and editing for many of the capital’s leading publications, including CongressDaily, National Journal magazine and Congressional Quarterly Weekly. He was part of a team that won a 2005 National Headliner Award for a special issue of National Journal on “The State of Congress.” He holds a B.A. in political science from The George Washington University and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.

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