Updated: Feb 4
A national credit union committed to community development in underserved urban areas
Founded in 1980 on the idea that “ownership was the best way for families to build wealth and financial security and for our society to create strong, vibrant communities,” Self-Help Credit Union began by helping cooperatives of farm workers procure local mills as they were shut down, individuals who had been turned down for loans in conventional financing.
Initially focusing on business lending to revitalize local economies, they continued to grow and foster wealth in low-and-middle-income families through mortgage loans, finding that they were paid back 99% of the time. In 2002, they helped establish laws which prevented predatory subprime mortgage lending in North Carolina and continue to work against similar predatory loans in the state.
Self-Help has continued to grow substantially over the past twenty years through mergers with like-minded institutions which may not have enough capital to continue on their own. Today, Self-Help serves African-American communities in eastern and central North Carolina after a merger with 10 locally focused institutions across the state, and converted five conventional check cashing storefronts in Los Angeles into “a hybrid check casher/credit union model that serves unbanked and underbanked consumers.”
Their sister institution, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, serves largely Latinx populations in Chicago, where the closing of a local bank left many in the area without valid financial options, as well opening branches located in both California and Florida. With a long history in providing business and mortgages loans to underserved communities across the country, and with accessible online services, this is a better banking option that clearly stands out.
We would recommend Self-Help to anyone looking to invest in a community development bank, as Self-Help has shown it can continue to grow while still staying committed to the neighborhoods they located in. They have a multitude of online banking resources which make it possible for even those who don’t live by a Self-Help CU or FCU to invest in this better banking option. Learn more about eligibility for membership on their site at self-help.org.