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Federation, National Council on Aging Announce Collaboration

Resource type: News

San Francisco Chronicle | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

By: National Council on Aging

CDCUs to Work with Regional Economic Security Centers to Assist Vulnerable Older Adults

According to research from the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) and the National Council on Aging (NCOA), older adults in the United States are facing increasingly acute financial pressures that include inability to pay for basic needs, lack of savings and high debt. They are disproportionately susceptible to financial scams and targeted by financial predators of all stripes.

With the ranks of low-income seniors growing, and millions of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age in a depressed economy, financial security for older adults has become a major area of concern for mission driven financial institutions and major national advocacy agencies.

Today the Federation and NCOA are announcing a major national initiative to help seniors achieve economic security. Thanks to 16 new grants from the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions as part of its Economic Security for the Low-income Aging project, eight community development credit unions (CDCUs) and eight economic casework sites around the country are finding ways to assist this at-risk community. The Federation and the recently selected pilot sites link CDCUs with NCOA Economic Security Centers and other local organizations providing economic assistance to aging populations.

With the eight CDCU pilot cities and partners selected, the Federation teamed up with NCOA to offer a specialized training to the new grantees; helping them as they provide their older members and clients with products and information to help them navigate the challenging financial landscape, make educated financial decisions and ultimately, to remain financially independent. The first convening for the new grantees was held August 9-11, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia, with 9 representatives from CDCUs and 7 representatives from NCOA Economic Security Centers who are partnering with CDCUs for the pilot.

At that training, the Federation, NCOA, and other partners learned about the basic types of benefits and assistance older members are entitled to, discussed the types of programs and financial products needed by older populations; learned how CDCUs can reach out and market their products and services more effectively to this demographic; and develop a data collection process that measures impact on economic stability and security.

Carol Wight, President of Holy Rosary Credit Union (Kansas City, MO), one of the program grantees, discussed what the grant would mean for her CDCU. “We are extremely thankful to the Federation for the opportunity to be involved in this pilot project,” she said.

“I left the meeting full of hope and with a better sense of the immeasurable possibilities for future service to our older members,” Wight explained. “The true value of this grant is far greater than the dollars awarded. This grant provides our credit union with real tools and inspiration to offer more effective services to this vulnerable population.”

“The synergy of new partners coming together was very exciting,” explained Cynthia Banks, Director of Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services, one of the NCOA partner sites. “The training helped us become aware of the value each of our organizations brings to the table to improve and enhance the lives of older adults in our communities. I am inspired by the possibilities of this project!”

By partnering with local organizations in NCOA’s network, CDCUs can be sure they are working with reliable organizations that have older adults’ best interest in mind, and the agencies serving older adults can be confident that they are sending their clients to trusted and responsible financial institutions. The collaborations will help the CDCUs reach underserved seniors in their communities and tailor their product and program offerings to their specific needs.

“We are very excited to work with NCOA on this project,” explained Melanie Stern, the Federation’s Senior Program Officer in charge of this initiative. “NCOA has been a great partner and I am confident that our collaboration will bring tangible results, both to our participating CDCUs, but most importantly to the older members they are serving. The information we glean through this initiative will help credit unions across the nation to serve their older members more effectively, and we hope that organizations serving older Americans will think of credit unions first when it comes to enhancing the economic security of their clients.”

“More than ever before older adults need a trusted partner in their community to help guide access to financial services,” said Sandra Nathan, senior vice president for economic security at NCOA. “NCOA is proud to partner with the Federation to ensure mature credit union members and vulnerable, low-income seniors receive the services and support needed to navigate these tough economic times. We look forward to working together to ensure credit union members have access to the critical benefits, employment and training, and health insurance counseling needed to get on a pathway to economic security.”

The Federation’s Economic Security for the Low-income Aging program is funded by the New York-based Atlantic Philanthropies, through its Aging Program, which seeks to help vulnerable seniors become financially secure and advancing supportive measures by effecting long-term change. Winning proposals came from credit unions from across the country, from Chicago to Virginia; ranging in size from less than $1 million in assets to over more than $250 million in assets; and serving various types of communities including urban and rural areas. Selected applicants featured a variety of innovative product offerings to assist older adults struggling with their finances, and partnership ideas to leverage existing resources in their communities.

For more information about the Federation’s Economic Security for the Low-income Aging Project, please visit:

About The Atlantic Philanthropies:

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic makes grants through its four programme areas – Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights – and through Founding Chairman grants. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam. To learn more, please visit:

About NCOA: The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for millions of older adults — especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged — and the community organizations that serve them. NCOA brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, please visit: / /

About the Federation: The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) is a certified CDFI Intermediary representing more than 240 community development credit unions (CDCUs). The Federation’s member CDCUs provide credit, savings, transaction services and financial education to more than 1.7 million residents of low-income urban, rural and reservation-based communities across the United States, and hold over $11 billion in community-controlled assets. The Federation also represents 50 Community Development Partners, some of the nation’s largest credit unions with a special commitment to serving low-income communities. Founded in 1974, the Federation is headquartered in Lower Manhattan with offices in Colorado Springs, CO; Madison, WI; and San Francisco, CA. The Federation offers a wide range of advocacy, educational, training, investment, marketing, and outreach programs to support and assist CDCUs. For more information about the Federation and its programs, please visit:

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National Council on Aging and National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions are Atlantic grantees.