If credit unions have a role in serving the underserved, Angela Weekley’s new position at Veridian Credit Union, Waterloo, Iowa, might just be the epitome of the credit union mission.
Weekley, former assistant director for diversity recruitment at Wartburg College, recently was hired as community inclusion manager for the $2.1 billion asset credit union.
Weekley works primarily in three areas: community relations, diversity and inclusion, and financial literacy. She spends most days working with nonprofits and schools on inclusion and financial literacy efforts.
Veridian also provides speakers to help teach students about financial literacy.
Through working with nonprofit organizations, she helps the credit union identify gaps in its services and then tries to meet those unmet needs.
“Veridian’s mission is to partner with members for successful financial futures,” says Weekley. “So I believe the challenge lies in determining what a community’s needs are and finding ways to serve those needs.”
The credit union has found that the most urgent needs in its community are improving financial literacy and working with unbanked consumers, she says.
Viridian offers a number of products and services to meet these needs, says Weekley, including:
- Credit builder loans to help members establish credit; and
- Payday alternative loans to help members develop good savings habits.
She says it’s also her job to ensure the credit union takes into account the needs of as many people as possible.
“Nontraditional communities are a main focus of the credit union’s philosophy of people helping people,” says Weekley. “Our primary goal is to work with low- to moderate-income Latinos and persons with disabilities to provide them with opportunities and to make sure they’re included.”
To determine what those needs are, credit union staff venture into the communities they serve. Weekley says staff meet with community action agencies and ask for input on local populations’ most urgent needs.
They also hold conversations with community members. This effort to establish personal connections and relationships within the community is crucial to working successfully with nontraditional communities, says Weekley.
Today, Veridian uses several tools to ensure inclusion of underserved populations, including Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN), which can be used by those without a Social Security Number to pay taxes on earnings, and Individual Development Accounts, a matched-savings program.
“My job really fits with my personal goal in life to help other people,” says Weekley. “Having this job has really given me the opportunity to reach out to communities that are underserved.”
She describes a recent memorable experience speaking about financial literacy to a group of young men just given a second chance in the judicial system.
“I was able to relate to several of them, having come from low-income, single-parent home similar to most of them,” Weekley says. “Through this connection, they eagerly listened and asked questions about saving and planning for their future.”
Another rewarding experience: Helping a member work toward achieving her life goal of owning a home.
“Members with ITINs have a difficult time securing home loans because they need a much larger down payment than the general population,” she explains. “Through our IDA program, we were able to assist a member in saving for this down payment, and she is now in the process of looking for a home for her and her family.”