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Southwest 66 CU Receives CDFI Certification for Community Development and Financing Activities
Thursday, August 27, 2015 6:55 AM

Southwest 66 CEO Cahill
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Southwest 66 Credit Union has announced its certification by the US Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. Currently, there are only 808 organizations certified in the United States, including loan funds, credit unions, and community banks.

To receive this certification, organizations must have a primary mission of promoting community development and providing development services in conjunction with its financing activities.

"The CDFI certification is a fundamental tool in our work of community development," said Southwest 66 President and CEO Sean Cahill. "This certification will allow us to increase our capacity to meet the needs of low-income consumers and to develop strategic partnerships to better engage our community."

Southwest 66 Director Tom Sprawls said, "I speak for our board when I say that we are excited to have received this certification, because this will help us expand programs that are making a difference in our community. Programs like credit counseling, financial literacy, citizenship loans, and our Borrow and Save Loan (a payday lending alternative), will allow us to better serve all of the varied and diverse markets in the Permian Basin."

A number of high-profile community leaders gathered at a special event celebrating the achievement, including Sherri Merket from the Texas Credit Union Commission and Texas State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (District 81).

Landgraf congratulated the credit union, saying he was very proud that Southwest 66 had received such a powerful and respected national designation. He also noted that the CDFI followed several other awards Southwest 66 has received over the past year, including recognition in March of 2015 for achieving one of the top member givebacks in the country; in October 2014 winning Credit Union National Association's Credit Union of the Year award; and the Juntos Avanzamos, "Together We Advance," designation through Cornerstone Credit Union League for service to the Hispanic community.

During the CDFI event, credit union leaders also presented two checks to worthy community nonprofits, Catholic Charities Community Services and ABLE Center for Independent Living. 

"The director for Catholic Charities shared a story about being just out of high school and pregnant, and that Southwest 66 was the only financial institution willing to help her," Cahill said. "It set her life on the path that she now enjoys, and she gives SW66 a lot of the credit."

Southwest 66 is a big proponent of advocacy and staff takes every opportunity to meet with lawmakers. Just this year, Cahill said, they've met with Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Conaway, Rep. Landgraf, Gov. Greg Abbott, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and many others.

"Our credit union fully believes in our advocacy efforts, and every employee and the board gets involved," Cahill said. "We are proud to have every staff member contributing to the PAC through payroll deduction. We have multiple directors and staff that attend both local and national GAC events. Our chairman sits on the PAC Trustee Committee. Each of us knows that our industry was legislated into existence with the stroke of a pen, and can just as easily be legislated out of existence the same way." 

Cahill also noted, "Our team has fun with these events and feels like they are making a difference. [Cornerstone's] Gretchen Ziegler and Jim Phelps have been incredible and taught our team so much. They are the models of how to communicate with our lawmakers that we try to follow every day."

Cornerstone VP Political Affairs Gretchen Ziegler remarked, "Southwest 66 Credit Union is on top of their game! They are the perfect model of advocacy in action, and their mounting accomplishments are not only to be congratulated, but also emulated. We could not be prouder of this credit union's leadership and staff."

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