The debut of a new financial "university" by HarborOne Credit Union to serve low- and middle-income communities has received praise from Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Frank attended the June 4 opening of the CU's HarborOneU in Mansfield, Mass., a new center that will offer seminars on youth financial literacy, first-time home buying, credit counseling, retirement and estate planning. The offerings will also include health and wellness seminars, searching for the right college, selecting elder care options, understanding Social Security and Medicare benefits, professional development opportunities and other programs geared toward dealing with various life-stage events.
"They have a commitment to a better community, making sure people in the middle ranges and below middle ranges of income are fully served. This is an example of it," Frank said of credit unions and HarborOneU. "What would be a wise financial decision for some people would be an unwise one for others. That's why what HarborOne is doing is so important."
Speaking to more than 50 people who attended the center's opening, James Blake, president/CEO of HarborOne CU in Brockton, Mass., said HarborOneU opened its doors at the right time.
"Given the state of the economy over the past few years, it's evident that there is a tremendous need and desire for financial information and education. That need spans all economic levels and cultures."
The center will also offer custom programs for small businesses, women and young adults. Small business programs will include classes on topics such as managing cash flow and receivables, obtaining working capital, using social media, writing business and marketing plans, succession planning, and managing business insurance and investments.
Classes will be offered days, evenings and weekends and some courses will be offered in one-session seminars while others will be offered as multi-session classes. In most cases, classes will be offered free of charge, while some courses will require a nominal fee to cover course materials, according to the CU. Classes and other programs will be presented by HarborOne and other area professionals. A business information center with free workspace, Internet access and a resource library is also available to non-HarborOne members and residents outside of Mansfield, the center's location, and area nonprofits.
HarborOne also opened its MultiCultural Banking Center in 2007 to help low- and middle-income communities with issues such as foreclosures and predatory lending. More than 2,000 people have taken courses at the center. HarborOne began operating in Mansfield and Attleboro after its merger with NationsHeritage Federal Credit Union in 2009.
Following the merger, HarborOne conducted research to gauge the needs of area residents. According to the CU, an overwhelming interest in financial education classes, seminars and events for individuals and business owners, along with the success of the MultiCultural Banking Center, led to HarborOneU's opening.