The organizers of a new credit union for the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods of Milwaukee announced Tuesday that they have reached a major milestone on the road to securing a charter and opening their doors to the community. In just six months, organizers collected over $500,000 in pledged deposits that will allow them to launch Wisconsin’s newest credit union.
“The overwhelming level of interest from people who live in the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods shows that people want financial institutions that provide economic democracy for their members and economic security for the community,” said Alex Brower, a spokesperson for the group.
In order to receive approval from state and federal regulators, a proposed credit union must demonstrate that the community it intends to serve has the interest of enough people who would open an account. Organizers had a goal of collecting at least $500,000 in pledged deposits from future members before submitting an application for a charter.
“This is the first step towards opening and serving the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods,” said Brower. “We still have to submit our application to the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions to get a charter from them, and also get approval from federal regulators.”
Organizers with the project have been going door to door in the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods since June to ask residents to complete surveys and make a pledge that they will open a savings account once the credit union has a charter and opens for business. More than 462 people completed surveys, with more that two thirds of respondents pledging $500 or less. The organizers have also held several information sessions in both neighborhoods.
Once open, the credit union for Riverwest and Harambee will be open to anyone who lives, works, attends school, has an immediate family member or worships within Milwaukee’s 53212 ZIP code. Membership is also open to anyone who is a member of any cooperative business located in the 53212 ZIP code.
“Most credit unions typically serve a large geographic area, like several counties or all of southeastern Wisconsin,” said Brower. “We’re defining the boundaries of the this new credit union as the 53212 ZIP code, because we believe that keeping our wealth in the community means improved economic health and security for the people who live there.”
Interested people can contact the Riverwest and Harambee Credit Union Organizing Committee by visiting creditunion.rca.coop.