Affinity Credit Union Awarded National Grant to Support Area Hispanic Community with Prepaid Reload Card and Financial Education

Affinity was awarded an Innovation Grant for nearly $40,000 from the National Credit Union Foundation to launch a prepaid reload card program specifically designed to serve central Iowa Hispanics. Affinity is one of only 13 credit unions nationwide which received funding for 2009. Affinity has partnered with Coopera Consulting and TMG (The Members Group), both affiliates of the Iowa Credit Union League, to provide prepaid reload cards to serve the Hispanic community in a pilot program.

Des Moines, IA (allCUnews.com) October 29, 2009 -- Affinity was awarded an Innovation Grant for nearly $40,000 from the National Credit Union Foundation to launch a prepaid reload card program specifically designed to serve area Hispanics. Affinity is one of only 13 credit unions nationwide which received funding for 2009.

Affinity has partnered with Coopera Consulting and TMG (The Members Group), both affiliates of the Iowa Credit Union League, to provide prepaid reload cards to serve the Hispanic community in a pilot program.

Research indicates that between 50-60 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. are unbanked. Many Hispanics avoid traditional financial services due to lack of identification documents, language barriers, distrust or a variety of other reasons.

Prepaid reload cards provide access to cash, secure cash management, easy-to-understand fee structure, convenience and an opportunity to establish credit history with card use.

"We recognize a tremendous opportunity to provide a path to long-term financial stability for our Hispanic neighbors," said Sandy Robinson, CEO, Affinity Credit Union. "This grant will help us further develop our products and services that meet the needs of the Hispanic community, providing them a safer way to manage their cash and an opportunity to establish credit history."

"Affinity, TMG and Coopera are building a model that we hope to replicate with other credit unions nationwide," said Miriam De Dios, Coopera Director of Emerging Markets.

Affinity partnered with Coopera earlier this year to begin their Hispanic outreach initiative and together determined that repackaging a reload card program specifically for Hispanics would be a financial solution well suited for this market. Affinity will work with Coopera to launch a comprehensive outreach program to include grassroots communication, financial education and community development efforts to support the product.

Local Hispanic community leaders were invited to join the Affinity Hispanic Advisory Council. The Council will provide insight on Affinity's Hispanic outreach services and financial solutions, helping to ensure Affinity's Hispanic program reaches area Hispanics and provides the information and connections important to helping area Hispanics work toward financial stability.

Coopera specializes in helping credit unions better serve Hispanics by consulting with them to package financial solutions so they meet the needs of Hispanics and communicate in both Spanish and English. Coopera has provided Affinity Credit Union staff members training to understand Hispanic community needs and culture, advised them on culturally-relevant member service and translated many of the written product support communication pieces. Affinity has bi-lingual staff designated to serve Hispanic members in opening accounts and answering questions.

TMG specializes in offering a prepaid reload card solution and will work with Affinity to implement a new card specifically to meet the needs of the Hispanic community. TMG will work with Coopera to introduce a culturally relevant prepaid reload card Web site (ATIRAreload), provide Spanish translation for marketing materials and implement a Spanish text balance feature for card users.

Other local partners supporting the Hispanic program include Solutions Inc. Results Through Creative Marketing® and Blue Compass Interactive. Solutions Inc. developed the brand for the Hispanic prepaid reload card program and will create supporting marketing materials. Blue Compass will work with Solutions Inc. to create a Hispanic resource section for and provide a translated version of Affinity's current site http://www.affinitycuia.org.

About Affinity Credit Union
Founded as Local 310 Credit Union in 1949 by Local 310 union members, the Credit Union adopted the name Affinity Credit Union on January 1, 2006. Affinity Credit Union is a not-for-profit member-owned financial cooperative and provides a full range of consumer financial solutions to over 11,700 member owners at two Des Moines locations. For more information, visit www.affinitycuia.org or call (800) 343-1028.

About Coopera Consulting
Coopera Consulting is an Iowa-based economic development firm focusing on emerging markets that present unique growth opportunities for credit unions. Coopera's bicultural and bilingual staff works with clients to assess their needs and develop custom solutions. Coopera is majority owned by the Iowa Credit Union League and is a strategic partner of the Credit Union National Association. For more information visit www.CooperaConsulting.com.

About TMG
TMG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Affiliates Management Company, which is owned by Iowa credit unions and their members. As a financial and credit union service organization (CUSO), TMG is dedicated to providing innovative and flexible card processing and payment solutions to credit unions and financial institutions across North America. TMG's core products include credit, debit, ATM and a variety of prepaid solutions, as well as online reporting, item processing, ACH and ALM services. TMG's prepaid card products are branded ATIRA. For more information, visit www.TheMembersGroup.com.

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