On Wednesday, December 10, Cooperative Federal was one of just six community development financial institutions (CDFI) from across the nation to be honored with a 2008 Wachovia NEXT Award. The awards, announced at the 2008 Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are among the most prestigious awards for responsible lending in the U.S.
Cooperative Federal took home the award in the “Community Impact” category for our city-wide programs that counter predatory lending. Since 1982, our credit union has invested about $70 million in Syracuse neighborhoods, fostering first-time homeownership, promoting small business growth, and helping communities build financial strength. In the past two years, Cooperative Federal made over 100 payday-alternative loans, lent more than $2 million in alternative-to-predatory mortgages and provided housing and credit counseling to more than 300 low-income individuals.
The Wachovia NEXT Award recognizes that Cooperative Federal “has blazed an unlikely trail on solid ground against all expectations," said Mark Pinsky, CEO of the Opportunity Financial Network.
“Cooperative Federal is a shining example of what community development credit unions are all about,” said National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. “I commend Cooperative Federal for winning this award in a very spirited competition against many high-performing CDFIs. This award highlights the vital role community development credit unions play in bringing affordable financial services to low- and moderate-income people across America,“ Rosenthal added.
“It is an honor for us to be recognized among the leaders of community development finance,” said Ron Ehrenreich, Treasurer/CEO and cofounder of Cooperative Federal. “We share the mission of the nationwide CDFI movement: to do the seemingly impossible work of strengthening neighborhoods and empowering people. Cooperative Federal is grateful to the MacArthur Foundation, the Wachovia Foundation, and the Opportunity Finance Network for acknowledging our small credit union’s contribution to that movement.”
“In addition to recognizing Cooperative Federal’s exemplary work, this award underscores the importance of community development credit unions in serving underserved communities,” said Federation Board Chairman Eunice J. Rogers. “On behalf of the Federation’s Board of Directors, we congratulate Cooperative Federal on this well-deserved honor.”
The Community Impact award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Three other community development financial institutions (CDFIs) received $25,000 Wachovia NEXT Awards in the “Financing,” “Innovation” and “Advocacy” categories; and two CDFIs received larger grants and program-related investments. CDFIs are community development banks, credit unions, loan funds, and venture capital funds that foster economic opportunities for low-wealth and under-served individuals and institutions.