Over 54 million people and 19 percent of the United States population – or one out of every five Americans – have some type of disability and a large number of which are “unbanked” or “underbanked.” Credit unions in New Jersey are working to make a difference in this area with the Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) internship program. The BEST program is a collaborative project that provides internship opportunities for people with disabilities. The last cycle, Cycle VII, of the program is underway in New Jersey after being piloted two years ago in New Jersey.
The BEST program was developed by a strategic partnership between the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) through its REAL Solutions program, the New Jersey Credit Union League and the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation), the National Disability Institute (NDI), and Allies Inc., a New Jersey-based training group for people with disabilities, with funding provided by the Kessler Foundation.
The BEST program provided internships to persons with disabilities in New Jersey credit unions with the end goal of providing them permanent employment and to help credit unions develop best practices to serve these families. The participants receive valuable on-the-job training by interning at the credit union, but it also helps credit unions better understand how to serve this important and underserved segment of the population.
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