ST. LOUIS, Mo. — One of the 13 credit unions to have received money from the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund said its mission is to provide members a stepping stone into financial services–including those from banks.

“The mission of Choices is to prepare its members to enter the financial mainstream,” says Phil Minden, founding member and chairman of the $277,000 Choices Federal Credit Union. “We have never seen ourselves as a direct competitor to local banks and credit unions, rather, a stepping stone for future customers of these lending institutions.”

Choices was the only grant recipient in Missouri. The credit union will use the proceeds of the CDFI Fund grant to pay for part-time staff, upgrade its data maintenance system and boost its capital reserves, Minden said.

Founded in 2005, the credit union serves the employees, volunteers and clients of 15 local social service agencies, including Habitat for Humanity, Beyond Housing/NHS, Catholic Charities Housing Resource Center, the Urban League, Better Family Life, and Employment Connection, among others.