In late 2006, the board of directors of our former credit union partner Mission SF Federal Credit Union began a strategic planning process with guidance from field leader William Meyers, then an Aspen Institute Fellow and the CEO of Alternatives Credit Union. At the time, research revealed that the most effective organizations in community economic development were using a community development credit union and non-profit partnership model.
With this model in mind, Margaret Libby was hired to launch the credit union’s non-profit affiliate, Mission SF Community Financial Center (Mission SF) in January of 2007. Ms. Libby has led the transformation of Mission SF from an organization with a single program and a part-time staff person to a vibrant organization with five staff people operating four program models reaching extremely low-income children, youth and families in the Bay Area and supporting them to achieve significant outcomes.
Mission SF has grown in a time of dramatic budget cuts and reductions, due to its focus on creating new innovative products to address unmet needs and its strong evaluation systems to measure outcomes. In just four years, Mission SF has distinguished itself as a field contributor and leader, designing program models that have been recognized locally and nationally for their innovation and impact.
April 2011 our former credit union partner Mission SF Federal Credit Union merged into Community Trust Credit Union, a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union, a community development credit union with an 18-branch network across California and an affiliate of Self-Help, a leading CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) with a 30-year history serving low-income communities with high quality financial services.
This partnership is critical to Mission SF’s approach, which always combines financial education and counseling with appropriate financial products and service linkages, for example savings accounts for children, credit-builder loans for financial counseling clients and various products for youth.
In addition to the credit union partnership, Mission SF reaches clients through strategic partnerships with agencies already serving our community. Unbanked and underbanked individuals face multiple barriers to accessing financial services; as a result, delivering services requires alternate channels. Mission SF’s youth and adult programs are delivered through trusted and familiar settings where youth and adults are already seeking other community services. Bundling financial services with existing community services in this way enhances client receptivity and engagement as well as program outcomes.