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Self-Help Credit Union

Underserved Communities

Meeting the Need for Responsible Financial Services

Too many communities across the country lack access to affordable financial services.  When quality choices aren’t available, predatory lenders and high-fee check cashers often thrive.  Self-Help intentionally locates branches in underserved communities, and we extend our service through mobile technology and partnerships with local groups.  We also serve neighborhoods by financing community development projects and rehabilitating historic buildings in areas that have suffered from disinvestment and blight.  

Over the past decade, our credit union network has grown significantly as we respond to the need for basic, affordable banking services.  Self-Help Credit Union and Self-Help Federal Credit Union have merged with 17 credit unions and two banks to create a network of over 75 branches serving over 190,000 people in North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Working in California, Illinois, Washington, and Wisconsin– Examples

  • On January 1, 2021, Self-Help Federal Credit Union welcomed 18,500 members and 47 staff of Lower Valley Credit Union (LVCU) to the Self-Help family. Lower Valley Credit Union was started in 1952 in a Catholic church basement by 25 charter members who deposited $5 each. The founders created the credit union to serve immigrant and rural families in central Washington state. Lower Valley has historically served members through six branches, located in Sunnyside (headquarters), Yakima, East Wenatchee, Pasco, Grandview and Prosser.  

    We are honored to join with Lower Valley to continue their longstanding mission. We plan to bring higher savings rates and more home and small business loans to LVCU’s service areas. The organization now operates as Lower Valley Credit Union, a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union.

  • On May 1, 2017, the branch operations of Seaway Bank and Trust became a Division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union.  Known for its rich community history, the bank was established in 1965 as Seaway National Bank of Chicago.  It was created to counter discriminatory lending practices on Chicago’s South Side. Self-Help will continue the mission to provide quality products and services and build relationships that create and protect economic opportunity in the communities we serve.  We welcome Seaway to the Self-Help Family with 6 branches in the Greater Chicago area and one branch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

  • In 2017 Self-Help Federal opened a full-service credit union in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood.  The credit union has been successful in linking low-income residents to safe and affordable financial services.  We offer transnational services, credit union accounts, and loans that meet the community residents’ needs in a responsible and culturally appropriate manner.  When federal regulators closed a Chicago savings and loan in a Latino neighborhood, Self-Help Federal partnered with community organizations to keep the branches open, assist borrowers and preserve a key financial resource for the neighborhood.
  • On September 1, 2016, Self-Help Federal merged with Family Federal Credit Union.  Family Federal was founded in 1983 by Father Luis Valbuena, OMI, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Wilmington, California, to serve the financial needs of parishioners and the community.  It continues to serve the needs of working-class Latino families through its one branch located in the heart of Wilmington – a community in the harbor area of Los Angeles, approximately 15 miles south of downtown.
Lamont Branch

Behind all of these examples, there’s a story. We have launched a series of short documentaries to preserve the histories of credit unions that have joined Self-Help in recent years. Go to Stories from our Vault to meet the community leaders and ordinary people who have worked to bring greater economic opportunities to underserved areas.