US community credit unions gather for annual conference – Co-operative News

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Socially responsible investment and community resilience are on the agenda at a US credit union conference.

Inclusiv – the sector body for the country’s community development credit unions which operate in “distressed and underserved communities” – kicked off the three-day event in Los Angeles today (16 September).

The agenda includes a look at the adoption by the US credit union movement of a new, eighth co-operative principle – diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Our industry must evolve as the country is evolving in terms of culture, ethnicity, race and gender,” reads the agenda. “Expanding our co-operative principles to include diversity, equity and inclusion represents the ultimate affirmation that these concepts should be embraced and that our industry welcomes everyone. It’s time for our industry to better reflect the people we serve.”

Other sessions include ways to serve the USA’s growing Hispanic communities; helping low-income homebuyers; using tech to reach young consumers; digital strategies; reaching rural communities; using fintech to bridge the wealth gap; and ways to combat payday lenders.

And several sessions look at Community Development Financial Institutions – government-certification, mission-driven organisations working in poor communities. CDFI Fund director Jodie Harris will give an update on funding levels and community impact, while Adrian Franco from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will discuss Investment Connection, a new platform set up to to channel resources between socially responsible investors and CDFIs, to help them scale up their impact. And there will be a discussion of work that Inclusiv and its members have done with the CDFI Fund, including reconstruction work in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Among those attending the conference is Samantha Owen, finance manager from the UK’s Salford Credit Union, which was chosen to represent the UK credit union sector.

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