SEATTLE-For $9.6-million Express Credit Union, outreach is everything.

Express CU works with 15 non-profit organizations in the greater Seattle area, and earlier in 2012 instituted a program to have "community member service representatives" deployed at the organizations to encourage new membership.

Dave Sieminski, managing director of Express Advantage, a separate organization from Express CU but one that has an interlocking board and a joint mission with the credit union, said the credit union has three CMSRs permanently stationed at non-profits, and it continues to get a significant number of members who hear about Express at various locations and then visit the credit union to open an account.

"We are looking to hire back a fourth representative who will be stationed at the credit union but will be focused on outreach," he explained. "More than 90% of our members are low-income, and many are unbanked. Those folks need additional support or education at the time of account opening. The CMSRs will be focused on serving those folks."

Sieminski said Express CU and Express Advantage are really pleased with the idea of having the CMSRs in the community, as the two organizations believe it "connects" the groups with people that would never connect with the CU or any other conventional financial institution.

"Instead, they would be at check cashers or payday lenders," he assessed. "The bottom line is we will continue to invest in this strategy because it is a really effective way to connect with the community we are trying to serve."

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