The U.S. Department of the Treasury awarded $2.5 million in grants to 20 credit unions through its Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to develop more community impact projects, the Credit Union Executives Association announced.
Each credit union will receive $125,000 to allow them to prepare to access federal and private funds that will be invested in new community service initiatives, said José Julián Ramírez, executive director of the trade group known as ASEC for its initials in Spanish.
“This is the result of an effort that the financial cooperative sector has been conducting to expand opportunities for its partners and to benefit the Puerto Rican economy, by leveraging the funds the U.S. Treasury allocated for community development,” said Ramírez.
After Hurricane María slammed into Puerto Rico two years ago, and in partnership with Inclusive, a firm formerly known as the National Federation of Community Development Credit Union, ASEC began a series of trainings for credit union executives to gain access to the money that the CDFI Fund and other private organizations destined for financial institutions linked to economically repressed populations.
“At the credit unions, we’re opening a true path to Puerto Rico’s reconstruction, because these efforts will be directed toward our people, who are now more than one million members,” said Eddie Alicea-Sáez, chairman of ASEC’s board.
The credit unions that will receive funding are: Lomas Verdes Cooperativa, Co-op CIAPR, CooPACA, Cooperativa Rodríguez Hidalgo, Mauna Co-op, SaliCo-op, CrediCo-op San Blas, BoniCoop, Cidreña Co-op, Camuy Co-op, JayuCoop, Cooperativa Juana Díaz, Co-op Rincón, YauCoop, Jesús Obrero Cooperativa, Cooperativa Padre MacDonald, Cooperativa Roosevelt Roads, LarCo-op, FloridaCo-op and BuenaCo-op.
These credit unions will now start a process of technical training to land the certification from the CDFI Fund. Once certified, the credit union is qualified to apply for financial assistance from the CDFI Fund for community impact projects, capital injection to lend to individuals or small businesses at lower interest rates or use it as a reserve. The financial assistance could reach $1 million.