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HOUSTON -Six credit unions have teamed up to form a CUSO to help credit unions better serve the Hispanic community. Alianza Financiera Hispana (AFH) is a multiple-owned subsidiary of Associated CU, Shell FCU, Shared Resources CU, Space City CU, Houston Postal CU and Neighborhood FCU. Its mission is to advance the financial education, economic condition, and provide financial alternatives to the Hispanic population. According to AFH Chairman/Houston Postal CU President/CEO Vladimir Stark, the idea is to develop community and national based programs that address the needs of the Hispanic community in order to help them live the “American Dream”. “We all had something in common -wanting to make a positive difference in the Hispanic community,” said Stark. “So we decided to leverage our collective resources and capitalize on each credit union’s strength to benefit the Hispanic community.” Stark adds that with so many financial entities waiting to exploit the Hispanic and new immigrant market Alianza is just the latest credit union effort to meet their needs by offering fairly-priced, user friendly alternatives. Although the CUSO was just launched in late February, Stark identified some of AFH’s goals, which include the following: * Empower the individual first and foremost. Provide financial education so the individual is capable of making informed decisions to distinguish between financial services and products that help them or exploit them. Teach the differences between the “for profit” predator/lender entities and credit unions. Assist in the transition from an environment of “cash-society” to a “credit” or “plastic” society, which is a new, different, and often frightening experience for the individual. Help young generations obtain a higher education. * Facilitate the financial delivery of competitive products and services, which the market demands and deploy them to the people at their convenience. Encourage adoption of new, safer financial habits, which includes credit union membership. AFH should remain a safe haven and provide “lifeline” services for persons unable to qualify for credit union membership. Additionally, to be a reference point to guide them with immigration matters. * AFH will serve as a financial alternative by providing check cashing facilities, offering prepaid debit cards, prepaid telephone cards, international wire transfers and developing insurance products to meet their needs. * With credit union membership, the individual obtains access to additional financial services and products; and may now begin to experience wealth accumulation. Home ownership represents the traditional cornerstone of wealth accumulation in the United States. Financial education may then take on advanced concepts of investments and/or small business ownership. Stark says while the initial owners are all Texas-based, he hopes to see it expand to include credit unions nationwide. To spread the word, in addition to being members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Alianza leaders have shared their mission with several local legislators including Texas House Representative Jessica Farrar, Senator Mario Gallegos, and City of Houston Council Members Adrian Garcia and Carol Alvarado. Stark says so far the response has been “very favorable.” Alianza has also tapped the talents of former Mexican Presidential Advisor, Dr. Juan Hernanez, who served as guest speaker during a recent meeting. “Dr. Hernandez has a passion for this and is helping us understand how to meet the needs of this community and how to better reach and serve the Hispanic community,” said Stark. Former Allied Credit Union CEO David Cox has been named Alianza CEO. At press time, a company logo was still in the development stage. For more information on Alianza contact Stark at (713) 970-6260. [email protected]

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