Credit Union and Urban League Partner for Financial Empowerment

Urban League Press Conference

(From left to right: Gina Hakenewerth, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, Tracy Verner, Community Development Manager, Kiara Jefferson, Financial Empowerment Coordinator, and Laura Woods, Vice President of Marketing and Community Presence)

Wentzville, MO (August 28, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis embark on a partnership to bring financial capabilities to the North St. Louis community.

Since 2015, The Urban League’s Save Our Sons program has sought to help more than 450 economically-disadvantaged African American men living in the St. Louis metropolitan community find jobs and have the opportunity to earn livable wages.  This program completes these objectives by assisting the participants in obtaining post-secondary education and job training and teaching the imperative career-skills and work ethic necessary to become successful employees while entering today’s workforce.

1st Financial Federal Credit Union serves this vital program with financial empowerment resources such as free checking accounts, access to transportation loans and credit building counseling.  According to the FDIC’s 2013 survey, St. Louis area households were unbanked or underbanked at a rate of 23.4%, slightly above the national average, however, 50.8% of African American residents of the St. Louis area were either unbanked or underbanked – nearly double the national average.  The Urban Institute also recently reported a large disparity of credit score in St. Louis as predominately black neighborhoods reported an average credit score of 552, while white areas of St. Louis averaged over 730. The partnership between the Urban League and 1st Financial to intentionally serve disadvantaged African American households with immediate access to financial tools, provides large scale economic impacts for St. Louis.

In March of 2019, the credit union was excited to learn they had been the recipient of a St. Louis County Community Development Block Grant, which allowed them to hire a full-time employee, intended to serve the clients of the Save Our Sons program, on site.

Laura Woods, VP of Community Presence & Marketing said, “1st Financial is a not for profit financial institution with the understanding that true financial empowerment requires access to comprehensive checking and loan products. All people need access to these crucial, and often unreachable, financial products as a baseline to maintain and grow a healthy community.”

To aid in the providing financial education and products, Kiara Jefferson has been hired as a full time Financial Empowerment Coordinator, at the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center and the Save Our Sons & Better Life Outreach Center as an employee of the credit union. Jefferson is now providing free financial counseling, access to credit building loans and checking accounts to the clients of Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis throughout North St. Louis.

Carol Minges, 1st Financial CEO, said, “Together, with the Urban League we can provide the community access to a full spectrum of financial services and resources. We believe that everyone should have access to a checking account and non-predatory loan products.”

1st Financial specializes in creating and deploying products and services that provide asset building, credit repairing, and safe borrowing options for consumers in St. Louis and St. Charles who may not have qualified at a traditional financial institution.

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

###

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 the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis exists to empower African Americans and others throughout the region in securing economic self-reliance, social equality, and civil rights.  The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. takes a holistic approach to economic empowerment and self sufficiency. Through community programs in three counties across the bi-state region, it helps its clients to climb out of poverty by helping them to find economic opportunity, providing educational excellence and community empowerment and encouraging civil rights and advocacy. The League’s Community Empowerment Initiative provides clients in need with food, clothing and other life necessities while strengthening families and helping people become self-sufficient. The Education Excellence Initiative encourages and enables participants to apply learning to everyday situations, to embrace technology and to achieve academic excellence. The Economic Opportunity Initiative provides resources to strengthen individuals, families, and communities by improving and climbing the economic “ladder” to a better quality of life. For more information about the Urban League, please contact (314) 615-3668 or www.ulstl.com.


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Launches Online Account Opening

Wentzville (August 15, 2018) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union recently added Online Account Opening to its suite of online banking services. Users can now join the credit union or open a new account completely online from anywhere, with full security and 100% compliance to all banking regulations.

“With the acceptance and success of our current online services, online account opening was a natural progression for us,” said Carol Minges CEO of 1st Financial Federal Credit Union. “Not only can members apply and get funded for loans online, but now they can open a checking or savings account without leaving the comfort of their home.”

Online account opening is just one of a number of digital services that 1st Financial Federal Credit Union offers to help its more than 30,000 members achieve their financial goals. Whether it’s to spend, save, borrow or plan, 1st Financial is dedicated to providing its member-owners with access to the best digital options for banking how they want, when they want and from the device of their choice.

In 2017, 1st Financial added online chat to their online services as well as launched a new cutting-edge mobile banking app that offers a cohesive, seamless user experience. “We know we need to keep moving our digital capabilities forward to best serve our members and we’re committed to continually evolving as our members’ banking needs change,” said Minges.

In addition to opening an account online, current and new members can also visit one of 1st Financial Federal Credit Union’s four local branches.

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

###

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. With assets exceeding $250 million, 1st Financial serves more than 34,000 members. For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Raises Savings Rates

Wentzville (June 27, 2018) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union hiked its Certificate of Deposit (CD) dividend rates this month. A 44-Month CD is now 2.85% APY — more than 3X times the national bank average for similar terms — offering members in the St. Louis area an opportunity to grow their money faster and improve their financial well-being.

The new rate for the special jumbo CD represents a bump of 60 basis points, and rate increases were made to a number of the credit union’s CDs with terms ranging from 3 to 60 Months.

“The majority of our members are not rate chasers — they come to 1st Financial for consistently high rates and tend to stay with us,” said Carol Minges, 1st Financial’s CEO. “We set our pricing where we believe we can sustain it so our members don’t have to keep bouncing from bank to bank to find that extra basis point.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about 1st Financial’s savings products

1st Financial members also enjoy free online and mobile banking, access to more than 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs, and more than 5,000 nationwide CO-OP branches.

For more information, please contact 636-916-8300 or visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

###

 

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. With assets exceeding $250 million, 1st Financial serves more than 34,000 members.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Celebrates 50 Years with 50 Acts of Cooperation

Wentzville, MO (June 4, 2018) –  In 2017, a group of employees at 1st Financial Federal Credit Union had a vision for the credit union to help build community on a larger scale in 2018.

Laura Woods, Vice President of Marketing and Community Presence, who has played an integral role in building 1st Financials community development program knew, alongside her team, the perfect way to celebrate the credit union’s 50th anniversary was to focus on the importance of cooperation in our community. Out of that idea, 50 Small Acts of Cooperation was born.

“In 1968 District 837 Credit Union (now 1st Financial Federal Credit Union) was created from the idea that if we can find a better way to work together, we can accomplish great things. But our niche can’t just be in our structure as credit union.  We are not for profit, but if there is no discernable difference for the member, it’s vapor.  It’s nothing.  So, we talk about our structure as a credit union, because out of our MISSION, comes our INTENT, which drives our ACTION,” said Woods.

50 Small Acts of Cooperation helps 1st Financial members, nonmembers, and local nonprofits with anything from paying a bill to collecting school supplies to participating in paid employee volunteer days to feeding the homeless and more. To date, 1st Financial has completed 20 of the 50 Acts that they have planned in 2018.

The first person to benefit from the 50 Acts of Cooperation project was 1st Financial Member David W., who spends his own money to help feed the homeless in St. Louis each week. 1st Financial was proud to help David by gifting him with a small monetary gift to help continue the strong community work that he’s doing by caring for the unhoused community.

David said, “When I first started working in the city, I’d see a lot of homeless people and I felt like I could do a bit more. I can go home to a comfortable bed, but every day I’d see them laying on the streets. I can’t give them a bed, but I can get them something to eat.”

1st Financial also sponsored Cathy Daniels (also known as Mama Cat), a 1st Financial member and the creator of PotBangerz – Feed the Body Mission, a 501c3 organization that builds community daily through their mission to feed and provide shelter for St. Louis’ unhoused community. 1st Financial was proud to help PotBangerz obtain their 501c3 status to continue their work in the community.

Mama Cat said, “We are not exempt from being unhoused. I didn’t think I could be and then I was. If we take everybody with us, we can go so much further. None of us are as good as ALL of us.”

1st Financial member Scott, who is a recovering addict was given the opportunity to open a checking account with a monetary gift to help him turn his financial life around. After having been turned away by other financial institutions, Scott was grateful to be given a second chance at a new life.

“When you’re in addiction and you’re trying to get your life back together that’s a big step to get a checking account because for the longest time you didn’t worry about that,” said Scott. “You have no idea what that meant to me.”

“We aren’t just the better way to bank because our Board and CEO isn’t getting rich.  We are better because we invest tens of thousands of dollars into our communities, to heal real issues.  And we lend every dollar we get to people who need access to low interest and available credit and we produce real impacts,” said Woods.

1st Financial is currently accepting nominations for 50 Acts of Cooperation at https://www.1stfinancialfcu.org/50-small-acts-cooperation/. Nominations are open to the public.

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

 

###

 

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. With assets exceeding $250 million, 1st Financial serves more than 34,000 members.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.TheBetterWayToBank.org.

 


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Celebrated Strong Growth in 2017

1st Financial Annual Meeting

Photo Above: 1st Financial Federal Credit Union 2018 Annual Meeting held at the Hazelwood Branch.

Wentzville (May 22, 2018) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), recently held their 49th Annual Meeting.  In 2017, 1st Financial celebrated strong growth ending the year with more than $250 million in assets.  The credit union hit this new milestone in assets while maintaining their strong commitment to the community including donating 508 employee hours to volunteering in the community in 2017.

“When we have a successful financial year like we did in 2017, we see it not only as our success, but as the success of all of our members,” said Carol Minges, CEO of 1st Financial Federal Credit Union.

1st Financial has a strong presence in the St. Louis area with two branches located in St. Charles County; one branch in St. Louis County; a branch on Washington Ave, in the heart of the City of St. Louis; as well as more than 30,000 shared branches nationwide.

At the Annual Meeting, 1st Financial welcomed new Board of Director members Robert Noonan and Jennifer Coliny. Robert Rutkowski was reappointed to the board. Gina Hakenewerth was appointed the new chairwoman of the Board of Directors.  Ms. Hakenewerth succeeds previous chairman, James P Combs, who faithfully served as board chairman for the past seven years.  Under Chairman Combs leadership, the credit union grew from $204 million in assets to $257 million in assets and rolled out many innovative products and services that serve our membership.  Chairman Combs served 10 years on the 1st Financial Board and Supervisory Committee.

“We are proud to have a dedicated group of Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee members that are committed to the success of our credit union and to ensuring that we are meeting the needs of our membership,” said Minges.

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

###

 

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. With assets exceeding $250 million, 1st Financial serves more than 34,000 members.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


Guiding Families Home through Partnership

1st Financial Employees presenting $783.69 check to Gateway 180

Photo Above (left to right): 1st Financial Federal Credit Union’s Downtown branch team members Aaron Mahanay and Karen Neel presented a check to Gateway 180’s Emily Elking in November.

St. Louis, MO (November 22, 2017) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union recently awarded $783.69 to local St. Louis nonprofit Gateway 180. This donation was made possible through 1st Financial’s monthly Helping People 1st grant.

The Helping People 1st grant was created by 1st Financial to support local non-profit organizations who focus on job training, financial literacy, or sustainable housing in the metro St. Louis area. Those core values also align with 1st Financial’s overall purpose to “help people achieve their financial dreams.”

Anne Ramsey, Marketing & Event Manager for Gateway 180 expressed her gratitude, “Thank you 1st Financial Federal Credit Union! Your support is invaluable to Gateway 180”.

1st Financial Federal Credit Union is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and was honored with the 2016 Community Credit Union of the Year award by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

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

###

About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Like all credit unions, 1st Financial is a member-owned, financial cooperative. 1st Financial Federal Credit Union was chartered on September 3, 1968 as District 837 Credit Union by the International Association of Machinist members employed by McDonnell Douglas. Today, with over 30,000 members4 and over $220 million in assets, 1st Financial is a St. Louis metro area financial institution dedicated to helping members achieve their financial dreams. For over 45 years 1st Financial has provided members with a full line of dependable financial products and services which returns profits to the members in the form of lower rates on loans and higher savings yields. The cooperative nature of credit unions enables 1st Financial to provide products and services at very reasonable rates.

1st Financial Federal Credit Union serves those who live, work, worship, attend school, or regularly conduct business in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County, Missouri and a wide array of companies throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. 1st Financial is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial organization committed to providing quality services to the membership while demonstrating safe and sound business practices. Deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an agency of the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit TheBetterWayToBank.org.

 About Gateway 180:

Gateway 180, a non-profit organization based in St. Louis, MO is a member of the St. Louis Continuum of care for Ending Homelessness. Gateway 180 is the largest 24-hour emergency housing organization in Missouri. They provide safe, clean emergency shelter and supportive housing services designed to empower adults and families to become independent and permanently housed.