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Freedom First has received two first place awards in the annual state-level Desjardins and Louise Herring awards sponsored by the Virginia Credit Union League (VACUL). This is the third consecutive year that Freedom First received the Desjardins Award from VACUL, and the second time in three years it took the top honors for the Louise Herring Award.
• The Desjardins Adult Financial Literacy Award honors credit unions for their commitment to teaching personal finance basics in local communities. In 2015, Freedom First was one of five credit unions nationwide selected to participate in the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners pilot initiative, Pathways to Financial Empowerment. As a participant in this new program, Freedom First was awarded a $20,000 grant to provide one-on-one financial counseling to low-income consumers. Freedom First has had a formal financial education program since 2009, and currently has four FICEP-certified financial counselors who provide one-on-one advice for those seeking basic financial education as well as housing and transportation acquisitions.
• The Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award recognizes credit unions for their practical application of the credit union philosophy within their operations. Freedom First was selected for first place in this category for its workforce development loan program. The Credit Union was awarded $1.5 million in secondary capital and $225,000 in an unrestricted grant from the 2015 Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance. The funding received will allow Freedom First to expand its program that provides affordable, low-interest loans to qualified candidates enrolling in training programs leading to certifications or licensures. Freedom First has forged partnerships with CDS tractor-trailer driving school, as well as Lewis Gale Hospital, and will continue working with other community partners to widen the existing pipeline of qualified students.
“We are honored that our community development efforts focused on financial empowerment continue to be recognized and highly regarded,” said Dave Prosser, Senior Vice President of Community Development.
Freedom First will represent Virginia in the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) national competition in these two categories.
For information about Freedom First Credit Union’s community development initiatives, visit the Community Impact section of their website.
ABOUT FREEDOM FIRST CREDIT UNION: With 48,000 members, assets of $440 million, and 9 branch locations, Freedom First Credit Union is the largest Community Development Financial Institution in Southwest Virginia. Founded in 1956, Freedom First Credit Union is owned and controlled by its members and operates for the purpose of providing access to affordable, equitable financial and development services to its members and the Roanoke and New River Valley communities. For more information, please visit www.freedomfirst.com.