A new credit union in Michigan has been born. The NCUA issued a charter for the third new credit union of 2012 to Community Promise FCU in Kalamazoo.
Community Promise Project Manager Lee Kirk said the charter has been a long time coming. In an interview before the charter was approved, Kirk said he was looking forward to getting the charter, and to completing construction and opening for business later this year.
“It will be one of the happiest days of my life,” Kirk said. “I expect it will be one of the happiest days for our team members, too.”
The credit union has been supported by a variety of community organizations, most notably the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. The credit union has received $327,000 in grants and pledged gifts and has also benefitted from numerous in-kind contributions.
Kirk also noted that Community Promise has been greatly assisted by local financial institutions who havae provided both funding and technical support. These include Kellogg Community FCU, Educational Community CU, First Community FCU and Keystone Bank. “We would not be where we are today without their support and guidance,” Kirk added. He also noted that Community Promise has over 40 community partners, almost all of whom have provided support and pledges.
MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams said the credit union’s organizers have traveled a long road, but will fill an important need in Kalamazoo.
"After more than three years of due diligence and hard work, we are very pleased to have Community Promise FCU join the Michigan credit union community,” Adams said. “As a community development credit union, Community Promise will fill an important role in the Kalamazoo area.
"At a time when other financial institutions have pulled back from the area, a credit union is preparing to open its doors to help and serve those who need it most. We applaud this effort and will be there to provide support and advocacy as Community Promise FCU moves forward."
The credit union expects to open for business in November.
NCUA Chair Debbie Matz said Community Promise will provide access to affordable financial services to people who have been left behind by other financial institutions.
"As a new charter in a market with few other insured financial institutions, this credit union will be well-positioned to make a significant difference in the local community,” Matz said. “I applaud everyone who organized and supported this chartering effort."
Initially, the credit union plans to offer regular shares, club shares, share certificates, unsecured loans, share secured loans, auto loans, money orders, prepaid cash cards, and check cashing. Financial literacy and membership education initiatives are top priorities for the credit union. Kirk said the credit union will serve as an alternative to costly payday loans.
Guardian Finance and Advocacy Services, a nonprofit organization providing financial and advocacy services through available community resources, is the fiscal sponsor for the credit union. The group retains and manages the various grant funds received by the credit union.
Michael Ross, a veteran Michigan credit union executive, will be the credit union’s volunteer CEO. Kirk said the credit union plans to hire paid staffers to fill roles as branch manager and member service representative.
In August, the NCUA approved a charter for Lakota FCU, in South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation, to serve the 40,000 people that live, work, worship, volunteer, attend school and transact business there. Lakota FCU is expected to start operations next month also.
Just prior to the Lakota announcement, the NCUA announced approval of the first new charter of the year – for New Brunswick, N.J.'s Internet Archive FCU, scheduled to open this month.