The NCUA announced a new initiative this week that reinforces the agency’s commitment to financial inclusion.
Rodney Hood, NCUA chairman, said that he has consistently characterized financial inclusion as the civil rights issue of the 21st century. “There is a clear business case for credit unions to enhance their outreach to underserved and underbanked populations,” he said in a statement. “The NCUA will dedicate resources from across its lines of business to bring more Americans into the financial mainstream and provide them with greater access to safe and affordable financial services.”
The new program, Advancing Communities through Credit, Education, Stability, and Support, or ACCESS, will bring together leaders across the NCUA “to refresh and modernize regulations, policies, and programs in support of greater financial inclusion within the agency and the credit union system,” Hood said. It will also build on previous successes and address the financial services and financial literacy needs of underserved and diverse communities across the United States, in addition to expanding opportunities for employment, he added.
Hood said that the efforts of the initiative include:
- increasing access to credit and loan products;
- dedicating resources to help people make smart financial decisions;
- enhancing existing programs that encourage credit union membership and access to financial services, and
- fostering inclusive policies and outreach efforts in the community.
Finally, Hood said that the initiative builds on similar efforts already underway at the NCUA and in credit unions that include:
- building diverse and inclusive workforces and supplier chains;
- enhancing support for minority depository institutions; and
- supporting initiatives aimed at increasing opportunity for all Americans.