St. Louis CDFIs Roll-out Coronavirus Programs Addressing Capital Access and Relief

Local Community Development Financial Institutions Offer Varied Financial Services in Time of Crisis

St. Louis, MO (July 23, 2020) – Agile and nimble, St. Louis-based community development financial institutions (CDFIs) have responded to the financial needs of communities in the wake of Covid-19.  Coalesced as the St. Louis CDFI Coalition, its member organizations share a common mission of access to safe and affordable financial products and services, ranging from credit builder loans for consumers to commercial rehab mortgages for non-profits.

At the onset of the pandemic, CDFIs took quick steps to implement the following emergency resources:

  • Borrowers were able to request breaks from their loan payments for up to 3 months —oftentimes longer—at no charge. Together they have processed nearly 2,812 payment extensions for over $74 million dollars in loans over the past two months.
  • Short term loan modification and extensions were made available to borrowers with personal loans.
  • Temporarily suspended loan foreclosures for 60 days.
  • Established 241 small dollar emergency loans to mimic direct deposit paychecks for borrowers who were facing unexpected hardship due to loss of income.
  • Funds to support individuals with food, rental, and utility relief.

In addition, the CDFIs quickly moved to deploy Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses and nonprofits. Together, they have worked to secure over $15.9 million in loans for 387 local small businesses and nonprofits. Many of these businesses and organizations were unable to access PPP funds through traditional banks.

CDFIs played a national role in deploying PPP loans to minority small businesses. Rochelle Bea, founder and executive director of Beginning Futures Learning Center located in North St. Louis City commented, “I didn’t feel that a bank was in a position to serve me. I thought my loan request might be too small, so I explored options.” Justine PETERSEN, a St. Louis-based CDFI loan fund, was able to close on a PPP loan for Beginning Futures Learning Center and other local small businesses whose loan request size skewed smaller compared to the national average.

But CDFIs offer more than just loans, they also walk small businesses and families with fewer economic means through the process of accessing resources and building financial wealth.

Mike Eggleston, Community Development Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, applauded the local response of CDFIs. “St. Louis is a stronger region because of our committed CDFIs, which have stepped up in this crisis to financially support individuals, small businesses and nonprofits in our region’s most economically vulnerable communities.”

Local CDFIs are members of the St. Louis CDFI Coalition, a partnership among eight institutions that offer an array of capital, development, personal banking and consulting services and share a common mission to empower a comprehensively healthy St. Louis community through support for nonprofits, small businesses, and communities facing disinvestment.

“CDFIs in St. Louis were quick to respond to the crisis of Covid-19 because we were all created for the purpose of responding to non traditional financial problems,” stated Laura Woods, Vice President of Community Presence at 1st Financial Federal Credit Union. “While we all approach the work with widely varied solutions, we move with one mission. To provide accessible financial tools for businesses and families who have, for too long, been underserved and unseen.”

The Coalition was born out of several calls from the Ferguson Commission Report including, enhanced access to banking in order to build equity. All Coalition members offer mission-driven loans and other resources which are more flexible and accessible than traditional financing. Loans and resources through these institutions are deployed across the region into some of St. Louis’ most economically distressed communities.

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Media Inquiries:

Laura Woods
Vice President of Community Presence
1st Financial Federal Credit Union
(636) 916-8303


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Volunteers at Connections to Success

Employees Volunteer

Wentzville, MO (February 26, 2020) –1st Financial Federal Credit Union’s employees recently volunteered with Connections to Success of St. Charles.

As part of their commitment to the community and as an employee benefit, 1st Financial offers its employees 8 paid hours of volunteer time each month to serve hands-on in the community.

Connections to Success is a local nonprofit providing services and support to people who are transitioning from poverty, incarceration, and domestic violence to re-enter the workforce to become financially independent.

1st Financial employees served Connections by organizing clothing donations in their Dress for Success department.

Trina Simms, a 1st Financial employee who spent the day volunteering at Connections to Success said, “I love volunteering for Connections to Success. I was given the pleasure of dressing someone for a job interview. It felt good knowing I was able to be a part of that journey with them and helped give them the confidence they needed to achieve their own success.”

1st Financial employees also participated in mock interviews with the graduates of the Connections to Success workforce readiness program. This allowed them the opportunity to connect with the graduates and help them get ready for the next phase in their lives through tips and guidance on how to be best prepared for a job interview.

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

About Connections to Success
Connections to Success is a local organization which provides services and support to break the cycle of poverty. The organization serves to empower people that are transitioning from poverty, incarceration, and domestic violence to economic independence. For more information about Connections to Success, visit https://connectionstosuccess.org/.

Photo: 1st Financial employees volunteering at Connections to Success.

Employees Volunteering       Employees Volunteering

St. Louis CDFI’s Awarded $4.4M in Federal Grants

Wentzville, MO (December 12, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, Great Rivers Community Capital/Justine PETERSEN, and IFF were among three Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) serving underserved communities in St. Louis recently awarded $4.4M in grants by the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Program Fund.

The CDFI Program invests in and builds the capacity of credit unions and loan funds to serve low-income people and underserved communities lacking adequate access to affordable financial products and services. In 2019 the CDFI Fund awarded $182,471,140 to 321 organizations in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Grant awards allow CDFIs to sustain and expand their financial products and services and can be used to achieve objectives such as, an increase in volume of products or services, to provide new products or services, expand operations into new geographic areas or service new targeted populations.

“I am proud to announce the FY 2019 CDFI Program and NACA Program awards,” said CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris. “I am especially pleased that almost half of the awarded organizations have chosen to provide services in areas of persistent poverty, which will lead to significant impact for residents in some of the most distressed communities nationwide.”

All three awarded CDFI’s are members of the St. Louis CDFI Coalition, a partnership among eight institutions that offer an array of capital, development, and consulting services and share a common mission to empower a comprehensively healthy St. Louis community through support for nonprofits, small businesses, and communities facing disinvestment.

The Coalition was born out of several calls from the Ferguson Commission Report including, enhanced access to banking in order to build equity. All Coalition members offer mission-driven loans and other resources which are more flexible and accessible than traditional financing. Loans and resources through these institutions are deployed across the region into some of St. Louis’ most economically distressed communities.

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ABOUT 1ST FINANCIAL FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis. For more information visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

ABOUT JUSTINE PETERSEN/GREAT RIVERS COMMUNITY
Justine PETERSEN (jP) was created in 1997 to connect institutional resources with the needs of low-to-moderate income families and individuals in order to build assets and create enduring change. Furthering the legacy of St. Louis social worker Justine M. Petersen, jP partners with mainstream financial institutions, public entities and philanthropic organizations to impact the lives of families throughout the United States through credit building, home ownership and small business development. Learn more at www.justinepetersen.org. For more information about Great Rivers Community visit http://www.justinepetersen.org/credit_building/great_rivers_community_capital/

ABOUT IFF
IFF is a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant, and developer that helps communities thrive by creating opportunities for low-income populations and individuals with disabilities. Since 1988, IFF has provided $701.6 million in flexible, affordable financing to nonprofits serving a variety of sectors – affordable housing, health care, education, community development, and more. These investments have leveraged $2.3 billion and impacted communities by creating more than 5,000 child care slots, 46,000 charter school seats, 256,000 new patient visits, 7,000 units of affordable housing, 2,000 beds at supportive housing agencies, and 66,000 full- or part-time jobs. Learn more at https://iff.org/.


1st Financial Offers Assistance for Members Affected by General Motors Strike

Wentzville, MO (October 16, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is offering a wide array of relief options to its members who have been impacted by the General Motors Strike.

1st Financial’s Strike Loan is a no interest, no fee loan for current 1st Financial members who work for General Motors and have direct deposit at the credit union. This loan has a maximum amount of $6,000 and a one to 12-month term.

“We put our members and community first and we know that some of our members might be experiencing financial strain during this time” said 1st Financial Chief Lending Officer, Michelle Rosner. “We created the Strike Loan to help bridge the gap and cover necessary expenses like utilities, food, insurance, etc.”

Alongside the strike loan, 1st Financial is offering debt consolidation, refinancing options, financial counseling, and their loan “Skip-A-Pay” program to members. The skip-a-pay program allows members who qualify, to skip their loan payment when they need a little extra cash.
1st Financial membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school, or regularly conducts business in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County.

Rosner went on to say, “It’s our hope the strike will end very soon. In the meantime, we are here to help.”

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union
Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis. For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Volunteers at Connections to Success

1st Financial Staff standing in front of Connections to Success building

 

Wentzville, MO (September 27, 2019) – In September 1st Financial Federal Credit Union’s Helping People 1st Grant was awarded to Connections to Success of St. Charles.

1st Financial’s Helping People 1st program consists of a monthly $500 grant plus paid volunteer hours each month for credit union staff to serve hands-on at local nonprofits.

Connections to Success nominated Pierre, a Connections to Success graduate, as the recipient of the Helping People 1st grant. Pierre has devoted time to facilitating several programs to help victims of violent crime and plans to continue that work.

Nine 1st Financial employees also volunteered for 8 hours with Connections to Success to help organize clothing donations which provide individuals with essentials for an interview – from clothing to confidence – so that they can find employment and re-enter the workforce.

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

About Connections to Success
Connections to Success is a local organization which provides services and support to break the cycle of poverty. The organization serves to empower people that are transitioning from poverty, incarceration, and domestic violence to economic independence. For more information about Connections to Success, visit https://connectionstosuccess.org/.

Check Presentation

Photo: 1st Financial Employees presenting the Helping People 1st Grant to Pierre.

employees volunteering

Photo: 1st Financial employees volunteering with Connections to Success.


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Supports 9,000 Local Students

employees volunteering

Photo: 1st Financial Employees volunteering at the KidSmart Warehouse.

Wentzville, MO (August 27, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, a not for profit community development financial institution recently volunteered at KidSmart Tools for Learning by packing school supply bags for 360 teachers that will directly impact 9,000 students in need in the St. Louis Area

1st Financial Federal Credit Union is a local Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that is focused on serving the community through education, job training, and sustainable housing resources. 1st Financial has donated $3,500 and 296 volunteer hours to local not for profits year-to-date in 2019.

KidSmart Tools for Learning is a local nonprofit that opened in 2002 and is continuously growing every day. Donations from individuals and businesses help keep the shelves of KidSmart’s Free Store stocked with everything from crayons, markers and glue. Community volunteers stock the shelves, manage inventory and keep the free store running each shopping day.

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


Making an Impact on Our Community

Making an Impact

1st Financial Federal Credit Union is more than just a banking institution. Like all credit unions, we were created with a philosophy of ‘People Helping People’. We’re more than just a checking account or auto loan service provider.  We are a not for profit community development financial institution, using our limited resources to change lives throughout the St. Louis and St. Charles communities. We are making an impact in our community.

Helping People 1st Grant: Studies show that some of the largest hurdles for financial success stem from issues with sustainable housing, job training, and education in our communities. To help we’ve created a community development program that offers small monthly grants to local nonprofits and government programs to strategically support their efforts. In Q2 2019, we awarded Beyond Housing, Little Bits Foundation and Habitat for Humanity ReStore with Helping People 1st grants.

Volunteer Days: As part of our commitment to the community, we offer financial resources to our local nonprofits focused on education, job training, and sustainable housing.  But we also know that financial resources are not always the biggest need for these organizations.  For that reason, we offer every employee 8 hours of paid volunteer time each month, to serve our partners in a hands-on way in the community. Our volunteer team served Beyond Housing by painting a home for a very deserving family in need. At the Little Bits Foundation we worked in the warehouse where we sorted through donations that will be going out to the local schools. We also teamed up with Habitat for Humanity ReStore to organize and price items to help offset the cost of building homes for families in need.

At 1st Financial, we want you to know that when you invest your money in one of our checking accounts or auto loans, you’ve done more than give yourself a low-cost banking product. You’ve also invested in the future success and continued change in the communities that you love.

Where you bank really does matter!


Making an Impact in 2019

1st Financial Federal Credit Union is more than just a banking institution. Like all credit unions, we were created with a philosophy of ‘People Helping People’. This means we have the pleasure of being more than just a checking account or auto loan service provider.  We are a not for profit financial institution, using our limited resources to change lives throughout the St. Louis and St. Charles communities. I have the pleasure to work hands-on with several ways we are making an impact in our communities.

Helping People 1st Grant: We have created community development programs that offer small monthly grants to nonprofits and government programs which are focused in the areas of providing sustainable housing, job training, and education to our communities.  These are the areas we see our members having some of the largest hurdles for financial success and it is our desire to use our limited resources to assist our community to overcome and succeed in each of these capacities. So far, this first quarter we have served, Connections to Success, Mission: St. Louis and Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. We have been able to grant $1,500 to help assist individuals at each of these nonprofits.

Volunteer Days: As part of our commitment to the community, we offer financial resources to our local nonprofits focused on education, job training, and sustainable housing.  We also know that financial resources are not always the biggest need for these organizations.  For that reason, we offer every employee 8 hours of paid volunteer time each month, to serve our partners in the community. I was given the wonderful opportunity to work directly with each of our community partners throughout the first quarter. We assisted Connections to Success with organizing donations and assisting with their office work. Mission: St. Louis allowed us to come in and paint a classroom that will serve individuals in St. Louis. We also teamed up with Mad City Money to work with Hazelwood West High School students in a hands-on financial reality fair that help prepared students for their financial future.

Million Dollar Challenge: Our mission at the credit union is to make and save our members money. In 2019, it’s our goal to make and save our members a combined One Million Dollars by refinancing existing loans at a better rate with lower payments, make money with rewards checking, and grow money with high yield savings. As of April 1st, we have been able to save our members $267,623 for far this year.

#YouDidThat: We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our members. As a cooperative that started more than 50 years ago to provide banking services in a way that promoted sharing, trust and cooperation, we are so proud of what you have helped us become. Investing in 1st Financial is about more than your checking account, it’s a way to leverage your investment into affecting real and lasting change in some of the most under-served communities in St. Louis. #YouDidThat

At 1st Financial, we want you to know that when our members invest their money in one of our checking accounts or auto loans, they have done more than give themselves a low-cost banking product. They have also invested in the future success and continued change in the communities they love. Make where you bank matter!

Be the Difference,

Chelsea Springli


Reflecting on 50 Acts of Cooperation

I say this all the time… I have the best job ever!  This year, we’ve been celebrating our 50th anniversary with 50 Small Acts of Cooperation. 50 Acts of Cooperation was born out of the idea that when we work together we can accomplish great things. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to help make each of our 50 Acts come to life. Here is a look back at just a few of my favorite Acts of Cooperation.

Community Gas Act: Just last month, we went to a gas station near our St. Charles branch and bought gas for some lucky people in our community. The expressions on their faces were priceless, but one lady really stood out to me that day. You see she had been hit pretty hard by life lately. That afternoon she decided to pull off into the gas station to grab some gas and take a minute for herself. When we walked up to her vehicle her eyes were closed so we quietly tapped on the glass and asked if we could buy her gas. Immediately she began to cry and tell us how much our small Act meant to her. I was taken back by her emotions and just felt overwhelmingly grateful to be a part of this mission of giving back.

Our members doing great things in the community: I was given the wonderful opportunity to help make the 50 Acts of Cooperation program come to life. Every time a nomination came in, I was blown away by the good things that our members were doing in the community like feeding the homeless, organizing donations drives, and more. It only takes one small act of kindness to start a chain reaction in our community. That’s what cooperation and community looks like.

Volunteers make all the difference: Through the 50 Acts of Cooperation, my team and I served our community through volunteerism 11 times throughout the year. Everything from organizing school supplies to walking dogs and even being able to be a teacher for a day through Junior Achievement. It’s so rewarding to work for a company that not only gives back the community and allows us 8 hours of paid time off each month to serve our community hands-on.

50 Years of Dedication: Over the years, 1st Financial’s name has changed to reflect the growth of our community. However, today, my credit union has served hundreds of thousands of people in our community by providing them with important financial products and services. I am thankful for the dedication of our members, our community partners, and our employees who have shaped my credit union over the past 50 years. Without all of you, 1st Financial would not be what it is today.

Through the 50 Acts of Cooperation, we’ve completed 11 nonprofits acts, 11 volunteer acts, 16 member nominated acts, 8 1st Financial Department nomination acts and 4 community acts of cooperation. 2018 was a year that showcased our commitment to the community, I’m so excited to see what 2019 brings us.

Here’s to 50 more years,

Chelsea Springli