HarborOne CU's Multicultural Center Net CU National Credit Union Foundation's Herb Wegner
The credit union's Multicultural Banking Center serves as a financial gateway where thousands of immigrants learn to achieve the American dream, the NCUF said when announcing the award.
"Immigrants who settle in Massachusetts are fortunate to have a caring organization like HarborOne Credit Union's MultiCultural Center," affirmed NCUF Awards and Recognition Committee Chairman Bob Schumacher, CEO of MountainCrest Credit Union in Arlington, Wash. "The center has become a national model to deliver critical human services needed for credit unions to reach new immigrants in order to build trusting financial relationships."
"We are very proud that the National Credit Union Foundation is looking at our MultiCultural Banking Center as a model," said HarborOne Credit Union President/CEO James Blake. "The Center works to create educated consumers who recognize the traps and gimmicks used by predatory lenders. This is the first step in ensuring that people never have to face the prospect of losing their homes."
HarborOne built a new brand of trust by opening a gateway for immigrants and other minorities, according to the award announcement. The credit union refurbished its vacant former headquarters to establish a network of free computer terminals, classrooms, and offices branded as the MultiCultural Banking Center.
The 11,000-square-foot facility was designed to help residents in critical need of housing assistance due to the foreclosure crisis; provide educational programs to ensure that immigrants and other minorities are able to make informed financial decisions; offer innovative products and services to elevate the level of trust between the credit union and immigrant and minority communities and partner with community-based organizations that provide related services to low-and-moderate income residents.
"HarborOne Credit Union has empowered many nonprofits by offering them free space at the MultiCultural Center," observed Barbora Hazukova, regional manager of Training Resources of America. "This has enabled them to collaborate on projects and increase their outreach effectiveness."
To help with the educational effort, three of the MultiCultural Center's four staff members are first-generation immigrants who speak multiple languages. Classes are taught in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish to help ensure communication.
"The MultiCultural Center has stepped out of the traditional role of a credit union by fostering partnerships throughout our Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language community," noted Sheila Sullivan-Jardim, executive director of the Brockton Area Workforce Investment Board. "This partnership enables us to attract families and independent wage earners, who may need additional language skills, to a business environment where they increase their chances of success in the workforce."
"The linguistic education of the immigrant population is but the first step toward self-sufficiency. The MultiCultural Center has built upon that foundation by offering instruction in financial literacy, home ownership, and credit awareness - empowering our residents to take charge of their economic health," Sullivan-Jardim added.
The center has been open since late 2007.