WASHINGTON -- The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the National Credit Union Foundation are joining forces in an effort that they hope will further unify the credit union industry in its work with lower income communities.
Called at different times both the Development Exchange program and the Development Corps program, the effort will move participants from so-called mainstream, usually larger, credit unions to work in community development credit unions and from CDCUs into mainstream credit unions.
In the beginning the program will be open to graduates of the Credit Union Development Education program, but both organizations hope to expand it over time. The first exchange should take place before the end of the second quarter, the organizations said.
"These will be incredibly eye-opening experiences for the participants," explained Federation Executive Director Clifford Rosenthal. "In order for this program to work, it is essential that both parties learn from one another, and I am confident that will be the case. We believe that these exchanges will create strong partnerships between the participating institutions--partnerships that will bring together large and small CUs, foster the cooperative spirit, and create a stronger and more unified credit union movement."
At the end of his Feb. 27 presentation to explain the program to Development Educators, Rosenthal jested about the elusive DE secret handshake. "Since my staff who are DEs won't teach me the handshake, I created my own, which represents our vision of this program." Bringing his two hands together with the pointer fingers outstretched Rosenthal declared, "One: one movement, one philosophy! This is our vision."
The announcement was met by much enthusiasm from the standing-room only audience of DEs and credit union leaders, with a number of people volunteering on the spot to sign up.
Major support for this program has been provided by the Ford Foundation and by CUNA Mutual Group.
The Credit Union Development Corps will begin accepting applications from interested DEs in the coming days. The program will be coordinated by Pamela Owens and Pablo DeFilippi on the Federation's staff, both of whom are also Development Educators. Tom Decker, who is coordinating the program for the National Credit Union Foundation, has become the steward of the Development Educators Program.
The roughly week-long experience in both places are meant to give the mainstream credit union staff member hands-on experience working on the front lines of credit unions efforts to help underserved communities, explained Rosenthal, and to expose staff members from CDCUs to the sophistication and innovations found in the mainstream credit unions.
But Rosenthal emphasized the programs highlighting a credit union industry unified in its efforts to work with underserved communities. "We are one movement," Rosenthal said. --firstname.lastname@example.org