You've done your time. Now you should have more than just a fighting chance to re-start your life. Support from family, friends and local organizations can definitely help, but you also need access to basic financial services – like low-cost checking accounts, debit cards, secured credit cards and car loans – to get you back on your feet.
But for millions of justice-involved individuals, fair treatment in banking is a huge issue. Which is why the First Step Alliance team is working hard to help start a credit union dedicated to returning citizens and their families. This new not-for-profit financial institution will provide access to affordable banking products and the financial education people need to create a path to sustainable financial well-being.
WHY A CREDIT UNION?
There are about 5,000 credit unions in the United States serving over 100 million people. Like banks, credit unions accept deposits and make loans, and provide a safe place to save and borrow money. But unlike banks, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations, and aren’t driven by making big profits to satisfy shareholders. Instead, credit unions provide:
Better Service & Community Support. Credit unions exist to help their members and actively support the communities they serve.
Favorable Rates. Credit unions generally charge lower fees and interest rates on loans, and offer higher rates on deposits.
Ownership and Security. As a credit union member, you are an owner, not just a customer. Credit unions are democratically run – one member, one vote.
Hear more from community leaders about the challenges justice-involved individuals face today in accessing mainstream banking services:
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
More than 600,000 people are released from state and federal prisons in the U.S. each year and an estimated 24 million Americans have a felony record. For millions of formerly incarcerated individuals, fair treatment in banking is a huge issue. Many people can’t open a bank account or qualify for a small loan forcing them to rely on high-cost, often predatory non-bank alternatives, like check cashers and payday lenders. Access to financial education is also limited, which can affect someone’s ability to achieve long-term financial well-being. We are committed to changing this narrative and improving the financial lives of formerly incarcerated people and their families.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
First Step Alliance has been approved by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the credit union industry regulator, as a membership organization for the Proposed Federal Credit Union. We have brought together an experienced group of financial services professionals and formerly incarcerated community leaders with the vision and passion to bring this new Credit Union to life. You can read more about us here. We have widespread institutional support for this initiative from government regulators, Congressional members, the credit union industry, reentry programs and other mission-aligned organizations. We are now seeking funding to help cover the initial costs of starting the new Credit Union.
Become a member of First Step Alliance today to qualify for future membership in our Proposed Federal Credit Union. There is no cost to join. Friends and family welcome!