First Step Alliance is committed to ending systemic discrimination in mainstream banking for formerly incarcerated individuals. We are working on starting a new credit union to provide a "financial home" for unbanked people and their families. This not-for-profit financial institution will focus on the financial needs of justice-involved individuals and help people create a path to long-term financial well-being.
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.
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.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the government regulator for the credit union industry, has approved our request to move forward with a new charter application for Diverge Proposed Federal Credit Union. First Step Alliance was also approved as a membership association for the new credit union. We've 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 a broad coalition of support for Diverge – from government regulators, Congressional members and the credit union industry, to reentry and other mission-aligned organizations. Our goal is to open the doors to this groundbreaking new credit union in 2024 and we are now seeking funding to cover the minimum regulatory requirements and other startup costs.
Become a First Step Alliance Member today to qualify for future membership in our Proposed Federal Credit Union. There is no cost to join. Friends and family welcome!