Tell us about your business. What are your core values?
Opportunities Credit Union’s mission is “To create wealth and promote economic development by bringing affordable capital and financial services to low-income and other traditionally underserved populations.” We provide banking services to any Vermonter who comes to us, regardless of their background. To maintain focus on this mission, we hold the values of accountability and transparency very high. We regularly talk to community partners and members to gauge public needs and identify any available resources, and staff work closely with members to address their unique needs and concerns regarding their unique financial situation. Everyone’s story is different, and we want to hear those stories.
Why is being connected to the community important to your business?
Fostering connection with individuals and organizations in our community is important to us for maintaining accountability and providing the best possible products and services. Staff at every level have their ear out for input from members or community partners which has allowed for resources like downpayment assistance for BIPOC and other homebuyers, special savings and checking accounts that are supported by community partners, and the development of financial products for specific needs such as our Citizenship Loan, which offers aid to cover travel costs and more for people moving to the US. Support from community partners and the State has also allowed for the expansion of our financial counseling impact, expanding access to education on the financial field that many have never had the opportunity to receive. Community connections have long been a facet of OCU that we are most proud of. That personal connection is what makes the work so meaningful to us. We get to see how people’s lives are changed by our combined efforts.
Why is your United Way partnership important to you?
The United Way and OCU’s shared values of transparency, accountability, inclusion, and local impact make for a natural partnership. We seek to serve many of the same underserved communities. Both organizations have long histories of fostering community connections to uplift low-income and underserved Vermonters. OCU greatly appreciates the work that United Way has done in the fields of mental health and substance abuse prevention as well as expanding access to health and human service resources for Vermonters. We look forward to working together to find out how we may best further the impact of United Way’s programs by utilizing the financial tools at our disposal.