A CDFI and CDCU working to provide financial freedom to those in Ithaca, NY, and surrounding areas
College towns have their own unique culture and economic needs, as they house a large number of young, temporary residents. Ithaca, NY, is a unique town that houses not only Cornell, an ivy league college with about 20,000 students, but also Ithaca College, which is a mid-sized private university of about 7,000. Both populations contribute to the local economy by patronizing local businesses, but most college students don’t bank in towns they go to school in, as it’s a temporary living situation. A town like this is going to have specific needs as far as lending and banking goes, and the Better Banking Option we’re discussing today was formed to anticipate and fill those needs.
Alternatives Federal Credit Union is an innovative banking institution which emphasizes personalized products and services to their community, catering to the average customer rather than to the richest members. They’re a Community Development Credit Union, meaning they have access to the resources provided by inclusiv. They’re also a certified CDFI. Their mission statement is “to build wealth and create economic opportunity for underserved people and communities,” and they also emphasize empowering their communities in order to allow their members to attain economic proficiency and freedom.
One program they’ve developed to improve the lives of underserved people in Ithaca is a study they conduct which determines what a “living wage” would be. A local workers’ center uses this study to certify local businesses and companies who pay their employees a livable wage. One hopes this commitment to providing community members the means to live well also applies to their own employees.
Although the only thing we know definitively about Alternatives FCU’s lending portfolio is that they devote about 5% of their lending to small business loans, they offer a wide variety of consumer loan products which positively impact their community, including a “Back on Track” loan for unexpected personal expenses. Building on their ideal of financial freedom for those in Ithaca, they also do a large amount of financial education for their members and offer free tax review as well as debt counseling. It’s clear from the kinds of loans and financial education classes they offer that Alternatives is committed to low-and-moderate-income individuals in their locality.
Alternatives FCU is a great Better Banking Option for anyone living in or around Ithaca, as their eligibility includes anyone who lives in the surrounding counties and they have both online and mobile banking options. Check out the work they do in their community today by checking out their website.
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