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.

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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 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.