Since their inception, community development financial institutions have been injecting equity into low-income communities. Quite noticeably, certain portions of the United States have larger concentrations of CDFI credit unions compared with others. This list is a compilation of those states containing the highest amount of CDFI-certified credit unions and are paired with statements from executives explaining why they believe that their state is on this list. Think you can guess who made the list? You might be surprised.
CU Journal's recent coverage on how credit unions are tackling opportunities in the CDFI space can be found here.
Louisiana: 21 CDFI-certified credit unions.
“We have 181 credit unions and 131 of those credit unions are low-income designated credit unions. We have pockets of wealth, but last time any in-depth analysis was done within our parishes, we had 51 out of our 64 parishes that were economically challenged. So I think, part of that springs organically from how our state’s economy is." -- Susie Fair, CCUE, Senior Vice President CU Support
Florida: 19 CDFI-certified credit unions.
“The Southeastern Credit Union Foundation has made a commitment to helping credit unions achieve CDFI status and works toward receiving CDFI grant funding from the U.S. Treasury. In the past two years, more credit unions in Florida and Alabama have become CDFI certified than ever before, and Florida credit unions have shown a drastic increase in the dollar amount of Federal grant funding received. One external factor that may be contributing to the success of our community development initiative is possibly the impact that natural disasters have had on our geographical areas over the past year. With so many credit unions being affected by hurricanes, credit unions have seen the value in increased community partnerships and for additional funding to assist with needs in the communities that they serve. Credit unions winning grants are also encouraged to pledge a portion of the funds back to the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation which allows the program to continue. The donations are put toward coordinating CDFI workshops in Florida and Alabama and are also used to subsidize some of the costs related to the CDFI [certification] and grant application process for our smaller credit unions.” -- Juli Lewis, Director, Southeastern Credit Union Foundation
Michigan: 19 CDFI-certified credit unions.
"One reason Michigan might have a higher portion is our league efforts to keep our credit unions informed of the benefits and process for both Low Income Designation and CDFI Certification. Over the last few years our efforts have involved:
- Communicate to our credit unions in multiple ways several times a year about the benefits of LID and CDFI and about NCUA’s streamlined application process - Monitor Newsletter, Contact Magazine - Through League Representatives and Chapter Leaders - Individual email contact with LID CUs in Michigan to inform about benefits and process - Our website page with links:www.MCUL.org/LID-CDFI - Education sessions about the benefits of LID and CDFI and about the NCUA’s streamlined application process - We brought in an NCUA official for a session at our September 2017 Fall Leadership Development Conference – “Leveraging the Low-Income Designation and CDFI Certification” - We brought in representatives from the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions for an educational session at our 2018 Lending & Marketing conference and also held a roundtable meeting with the Federation for credit unions that are CDCUs or wish to become CDCUs."
I am not sure of other reasons why Michigan has a higher portion but would guess that it has to do with the economic situation in the past decade where much of the state has been considered low income and many of our credit unions have a deep mission to help underserved people, families and communities." - Beth Troost, Executive Director, Michigan Credit Union Foundation.
Missouri: 19 CDFI-certified credit unions.
“At the time, the Missouri Credit Union Association (now Heartland Credit Union Association) promoted the program so Missouri credit unions could have expanded options to serve low-income members and consumers. A significant number of credit unions applied for and received CDFI certification. Missouri credit unions have seen the value and benefits of the program, which is how the program has sustained its high penetration numbers in this state.” - Amy McLard, Executive Director of Advocacy, Heartland Credit Union Association
New York: 18 CDFI-certified credit unions.
"The higher number of CDFI-certified credit unions in New York state is largely due to the diversity of the demographics and income ranges within highly populated and concentrated areas, such as New York City. It’s a good thing that credit unions in New York want to be able to use certain grant funds for additional outreach and focus on low- to moderate-income members in areas with major income inequality.
Separately, New York has a CDFI coalition that supports the state’s CDFI organizations under the federal program.
The last disbursement from the Community Development Capital Initiative was September 2010. It appears as though most CDFI credit unions in New York at that time took advantage of the TARP-like capital support for their institutions so that they could continue to support their members." - Linda Bow, Director of Compliance, NYCUA
Texas: 18 CDFI-certified credit unions.
Based on 2017 data, there are approximately 4.2 million Texans living in poverty, or 15.6% of the state's population. Though the state holds less drastic poverty rates compared with other states, it remains in the upper quadrant for poverty stats. Its larger geographic size and population also holds more credit unions compared to the rest of the nation.
California: 16 CDFI-certified credit unions.
"As of June 2018, there are 16 credit unions in California (out of 320 total CUs in the state) certified as CDFIs. Most, if not all, credit unions that are CDFIs also have NCUA’s low-income designation. Under NCUA Regulation Part 701.34, credit unions with this type of designation are eligible to accept secondary capital accounts and they are exempt from the Member Business Aggregate Limit (MBL Cap).
One thing of note: though a few credit unions on the list became certified more recently, many have been LICU and CDFI credit unions for a number of years. It is not an easy process for credit unions to become certified with this designation. However, credit unions generally undertake this process to become CDFIs with the goal of wanting to serve their members better by having access to CDFI awards/grants which can be used for various credit union programs and services." - Rita Fillingane, Vice President of Research & Collaboration. California Credit Union League
Washington: 12 CDFI-certified credit unions.
"The biggest reason is that so many of our member credit unions in Washington and the Northwest overall, are mission-driven. The boards and management understand that they have a responsibility to serve their most vulnerable members. These credit unions are willing to invest in members who might not traditionally qualify for a home loan, car loan, or other form of consumer loan to achieve financial success.
What makes Washington unique is not only the fact that there is a large number of CDFI Credit Unions but the fact thatthose mission-aligned credit unions have the certification and have been able to leverage that certification to win competitive grants and provide tangible member benefits. As their trade association, we are happy to help guide them through the certification process. We also offer a partnership through our Strategic Link, which connects credit unions to Scott Butterfield at Your Credit Union Partner." - John Trull, AVP of Regulatory Advocacy, Northwest Credit Union Association
Illinois: 11 CDFI-certified credit unions.
"Recognizing one-third of Illinoisans (Heartland Alliance) are poor or low income and 17.7% of our children live in poverty, we are proud to highlight not only our CDFI designated credit unions but all who stand true to the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People” and work tirelessly to reverse those statistics.
Ranging in size from $500,000 to over $1 billion, credit unions in Illinois certified as CDFIs share a common mission – a drive to serve the underserved and meet the needs of low income individuals in their communities. With innovative products, such as second chance checking, scholarships, credit builder loans and financial counseling, our CDFIs are focused on fighting poverty and providing a pathway to financial freedom for their members and communities they serve.
The number of CDFI’s in Illinois is not driven by regulatory factors but rather determination, on the part of individual credit unions, to address financial challenges in their communities and offer solutions.
A few of the CDFI designated CUs take advantage of NCUA and CDFI funding as they expand their reach in serving low-income in their communities. I’m not aware of any other funding." - Anna Hauck, Manager of Member Services, Illinois Credit Union League
North Carolina: 11 CDFI-certified credit unions.
North Carolina's poverty rate remains above historical averages. Based on 2017 data from Talk Poverty, 15.4% of North Carolina's population fell below the poverty line.
Those familiar with North Carolina's conditions have commented that the state not only experiences slower recovery in bouts of recession, but also that the state is unable to recover due to systemic barriers that further racial and gender disparities.