A Different Way to Give Back This Holiday Season

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
A Payroll Protection Program loan from Self-Help Federal Credit Union saved the Brighter Beginnings clinic in Richmond from devastating layoffs. Photo Credit: Brandi Rollins

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — During the holiday season, many people make charitable contributions, but there’s another way to help the community recover from COVID-19 without spending a dime.

Groups that work for social justice say you can make a difference by choosing a financial institution based on the causes they support. Ebony Perkins, national resource manager for investor and community relations at Self-Help Federal Credit Union, said there is power in where you put your money.

“Placing your money with financial institutions that are making a difference in communities that are specifically hurting right now, that’s also a form of giving, and that should not be overlooked,” Perkins said.

Self-Help makes home and consumer loans where other financial institutions won’t – specifically focusing on low-income, minority and rural communities. They also offer certificates of deposit that support women and other underserved borrowers – and tailor their federally backed Paycheck Protection Loans to nonprofits.

Barbara Bunn McCullough is CEO of Brighter Beginnings, which runs a child-development center, offers financial counseling and runs low-cost medical clinics in the East Bay. She said their revenue plunged during the pandemic and forced them to lay off 7 people.

“But with the Paycheck Protection loan, we were able to not only bring everyone back, but we have since added 20 more staff,” McCullough said. ” We are growing and serving more people than ever before.”

Rafael Morales, senior development, policy and impact manager at Self-Help, said the company advocates for policy change to benefit working families, especially in communities of color.

“Our priorities around advocacy are expanding home ownership, criminal-justice reform, student debt crisis and living-wage campaigns,” Morales said.

The goal of community development credit unions is to provide affordable financial services that help generate economic growth for communities that have been ignored by traditional banks.