NECFCU Community Mission Statement
NECFCU Community FCU is a Community Development Chartered Credit Union that exists to meet the unmet savings and credit needs of its membership. As a financial cooperative dedicated to serving the underserved, NECFCU is also an agent for community revitalization and development within its field of membership and for the larger community.
Through a combination of credit union member support, grants and nonmember deposits, NECFCU has gradually built up its base of deposits and earnings, to the point that it became a self-sufficient institution in 1988. By achieving self-sufficiency, NECFCU was able to expand its community economic development initiatives that addressed the credit needs of members who wished to start or expand small businesses. Areas of focus included: printing, graphic design, import-export, garment manufacturing, general construction, computer assemblage and a variety of retail businesses that included flower shops, travel agencies and restaurants. Toward these ends, NECFCU was a national pioneer in the making of microenterprise loans to small businesses ignored by mainstream financial institutions.
Investment Area/Field of Membership
NECFCU serves a geographic field of membership that primarily encompasses Chinatown, Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, serving some of the most culturally diverse and densely populated areas of San Francisco.
Within our Investment Area, the median family income ranges from 28% to 75% of San Francisco’s median family income, with the vast majority of census tracts falling below 50% of median family income. With over 94% of NECFCU’s Investment Area as meeting the CDFI definition of “economic distress”, our current and future activities are designed to increase our support of financial products and services in our investment area.
Product and Service Development
Initial financial support for NECFCU came from a Community Services Agency grant. Our early operations were entirely supported by volunteers. With this dedicated group, the credit union grew to $250,000 in assets within a year. A Community Development Block Grant provided additional funding for staff support. By 1983, NECFCU began making loans, including those of small business.
Chinatown - Main Branch
Chinatown teems with banks, but newer Chinese immigrants often find the shift into the American financial mainstream confusing and alienating. Existing banks cater to more affluent members, with high minimum packages. Small businesses must establish an extensive institutional relationship to secure financing. NECFCU’s Chinatown office, located just one block from Chinatown’s major commercial corridor, is a very accessible to community newcomers and provides the means for the less affluent to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
In Contrast to Chinatown, the Tenderloin has no other regulated financial institutions. NECFCU acts as the only mainstream financial service provider in the area. Welfare recipients and other residents of limited economic means are easy prey for makeshift financial operations, which regularly charge exorbitant fees for their services. Average income in this area is less than half of that in the Chinatown area, both of which are below San Francisco’s median income level of $99,400 in the year 2010. The need for traditional banking and financial educational services is great; only 20% of Tenderloin residents claimed “interest, dividend and net rental income” in the 1990 United States Census. NECFCU aims to free Tenderloin residents from predator financial operations and act as a community-controlled financial and educational institution that allows people to make better use of their money, have more control over their money and begin to climb the economic ladder.
As the last remnants of traditional financial institutions withdrew their support from the Tenderloin neighborhood, NECFCU stepped in to fill this void. Working with a coalition of Tenderloin activists, in conjunction with some large credit unions, throughout 1997 and into 1999, NECFCU opened the Tenderloin Branch office in April 1999. Mayor Willie Brown gave a speech of hope kicking off the opening of our new branch, and since then we have provided many loans in the Tenderloin helping the community grow and prosper. Membership in the Tenderloin has grown 3x since starting the branch where we had 170 members join in the first year, and demand continues to grow.
Besides these accomplishments, an important day-to-day role that the branch plays is providing an affordable option to check cashing outlets that dominate the market in the Tenderloin. By offering a safe and comfortable place for cashing of payroll and government checks at a much lower fee, the community has more income at its disposal.
South of Market Branch
Since the grand opening of the SoMA branch of NECFCU Federal Credit Union in June of 2010, it has provided the SoMA community with over 150 bank accounts and 178 loan transactions. Due to the lack of financial institutions in the SoMA neighborhood, the arrival of a community credit union was appreciated by all community members. Partnerships with other community organizations such Asian Neighborhood Design, Sword to Plowshare and Filipino-American Development Foundation Bayanihan Community Center have helped with the growth and success of NECFCU’s new branch.