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    Self Help FCU’s Micro Branch Delivering “In-line” Financial Education to Underbanked

    Self-Help Federal Credit Union is delivering “in-line” financial education to help lead low-income people on the path to economic opportunity and security.

    The credit union received a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Financial Education Grant this year to implement, analyze and refine their in-line education model, which is innovative delivery of “bite-size” financial management concepts at the teller line when consumers are focused on their financial decision-making. This new education model is being piloted in Self-Help FCU’s Micro Branch, a unique check casher credit union hybrid designed specifically to meet the needs of unbanked families.

    “By providing educational interventions during financial transactions and coupling them with access to asset-building products and services, Self-Help FCU creates opportunities to transition education into action and effectively change financial behavior,” noted Jeannine Esposito, Communications & Development Associate at Self Help FCU.

    Established in January 2010, Self Help FCU’s Micro Branch serves East San Jose, which is made up of a primarily Latino immigrant population. Based on the 1-mile radius census data around the branch’s location, there are an estimated 20,000 un-banked and under-banked Latinos. In California over 47% (or 9 million) Latinos are unbanked and almost 200,000 in San Jose alone. This population represents the service gap that exists in between mainstream financial institutions and less regulated, alternative financial services providers. As a result, alternative providers – such as check cashers, pawn shops, consumer finance companies and payday lenders – have emerged to fill the void.

    “The people in check cashing lines are missing something valuable: a place to save money, the chance to develop or repair credit ratings, personal security from robbery, and access to responsible credit,” said Lois Kitsch, NCUF National Program Director. “These basic financial services are the gateway to financial stability and capital access, which are critical steps toward upward economic mobility.”

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