Chicago Credit Building Coalition to Provide Innovative, Credit-Building Financial Products along with Financial Education and Coaching

(Graphic: Business Wire)

CHICAGO--()--Representatives of 11 Chicago-area community development organizations and Citi will gather today to applaud Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie D. Neely’s launch of the Bank On Chicago financial inclusion initiative and to announce that they have joined together to form the Chicago Credit Building Coalition (CCBC).

The CCBC will expand financial inclusion for low- and moderate-income residents in the Chicago area by complementing existing financial education programs with a financial tool, provided by Citi, that supports credit-building. The community development organizations Justine PETERSEN and Credit Builders Alliance will provide the CCBC members with assistance and tools to increase their capacity to provide these services and to monitor the impact that financial coaching complemented by the use of this product can have on individuals’ credit profiles.

“Having a good credit profile is essential for lowering an individual’s day-to-day transaction costs, growing their assets through small business or homeownership and securing employment,” said Stephanie D. Neely, Chicago City Treasurer. “These organizations are demonstrating their commitment to helping underserved Chicago residents, and by working together they will have a tremendous, positive impact.”

The Chicago Credit Building Coalition members are: Chicago Urban League; Citi Community Development; Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; JVS Chicago; Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago; Mercy Housing Lakefront; National Latino Education Institute; Neighborhood Housing Services; Partners in Community Building; The Resurrection Project; South Side Community Federal Credit Union; and Spanish Coalition for Housing. Supporting partners of the CCBC are Justine PETERSEN and Credit Builders Alliance.

Highlights of the program include:

  • Financial coaching and education to help participants improve their financial behavior and learn credit- and asset-building best practices.
  • Client access to a secured or unsecured credit card provided by Citi subsidiary Banamex USA to help individuals build their credit history.
  • A streamlined, Web-based system to help nonprofit partners assist clients with applying for and monitoring their use of the credit card. Nonprofit Justine PETERSEN developed the system along with Citi Microfinance and will provide technical assistance to the CCBC members for card processing.
  • The ability for CCBC members to monitor changes in their clients’ credit score, through the assistance of Credit Builders Alliance, which will provide training and access to CCBC members and the opportunity to identify those programs that are most impactful.

“Especially in the current economic climate, being creditworthy is essential to economic empowerment,” said Donna Rockin, Director of the Illinois SBDC / Duman Microenterprise Center at JVS Chicago, which is serving as the lead coalition member. “We have provided one-on-one credit counseling for over 20,000 individuals since 1997. We’ve seen that the right kinds of intervention can take people with low or no credit scores and with significant debt to the point where they can buy a home or start a business. By coming together to offer this innovative package of financial tools and education, we are going to have a tremendous impact in terms of helping Chicago residents establish and raise their credit scores. It’s a collaborative and comprehensive model that other cities will want to adopt.”

"The communities we serve need not only financial coaching but also access to financial products and services in order to achieve financial inclusion and success," said Elba Aranda-Suh, Executive Director of the National Latino Education Institute. "Citi's ability to provide useful financial tools that also will enable people to raise their credit scores complements the critical financial coaching and education that the coalition members are already providing."

The Banamex USA credit card is already in use in other programs to help people with low credit scores or no credit to build their histories and increase their credit scores. For applicants with no or limited credit history, the secured card requires a small minimum cardholder security deposit of $300 and a commitment as prescribed by the community organization to attend a series of free financial education classes on improving one’s credit scores and financial capability. Early pilots indicate that customers have increased their scores by an average of 50 points through the use of the card and financial education resources. Close to 23 percent of customers opening a Banamex USA card originally had no reported credit history.

“This initiative is the kind of collaborative approach that we’ve found to be effective in our ongoing efforts to expand financial inclusion,” said George Wright, Midwest Region Director for Citi Community Development. “These local partners, with in-depth knowledge of the financial challenges impacting Chicago residents, are combining forces to maximize impact and scale of their credit building efforts. We think that’s a smart strategy and we’re proud to provide the technical assistance and the financial product to move this initiative forward.”

About the Chicago Credit Building Coalition (CCBC)

The Chicago Credit Building Coalition (CCBC) is a collaborative initiative that will increase financial capability, expand access to financial services, and provide financial coaching and a financial tool — an unsecured or secured credit card offered by Citi — that will help people build their credit scores.

About the Chicago Urban League

The Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong, sustainable communities through progressive advocacy, effective collaboration and innovative programming. The Chicago Urban League is committed to implementing its mission by insuring access to quality education that prepares individuals to become lifelong learners and to be competitive and successful in the global economy, preparing individuals for work at all levels in an ever-changing economy, developing engaged citizens, and building strong families, supporting community based investment and growth through facilitating entrepreneurship, business development, and home and real estate ownership, advocating for policies and programs that ensure equal participation by African Americans in the economic and social mainstream and enabling individuals to live productive, longer lives by insuring access to health and wellness education and services.

About Citi Community Development

Citi Community Development (CCD) is leading Citi’s commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships. Our focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit

About Banamex USA

Banamex USA provides full banking services for companies and individuals that do business in Mexico and the United States. As part of Citigroup, Banamex USA is the U.S. banking arm of Banco Nacional de Mexico (Banamex), Mexico's premier bank. For corporate and individual customers alike, Banamex USA is the gateway to and from the Mexican financial markets.

About Credit Builders Alliance

The purpose of Credit Builders Alliance (CBA) is to help low and moderate income individuals currently served by non-traditional financial and asset building institutions build their credit and access conventional financing. They do this by Innovative Products and Services, Knowledge Sharing and Training and Research and Awareness Raising.

About the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) is a fully staffed non-profit membership organization with well defined management, financial, and administrative systems in place. IHCC staff and consultants have combined experience of more than 75 years serving businesses and providing training, advocacy and technical assistance. IHCC enjoys a solvent financial standing through effective fund-raising activities and corporate sponsorships. IHCC also counts among its members many experienced, successful business owners and professionals that serve as resources for staff and provide guidance and support for a variety of activities. The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) is one of the most successful membership business organizations in the country.

About JVS Chicago

Founded in 1884, JVS Chicago is a non-profit, non-sectarian, fully credentialed agency. JVS Chicago provides career counseling, training and other employment services in an ever-changing job market. Serving more than 11,000 clients annually, JVS Chicago provides the tools that enable job seekers to obtain sustainable employment in today’s competitive workplace. Our Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Duman Microenterprise Center provides one-on-one counseling at no charge for start-ups and pre-existing small businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area. The Center offers entrepreneurial and credit building training, business assistance, mentoring and access to capital. JVS Chicago is supported by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and other public and private funding. To learn more about JVS Chicago, visit

About Justine PETERSEN

Justine PETERSEN is a nonprofit CDFI vendor located in St. Louis, Missouri. Since 1997, Justine PETERSEN has provided one-on-one credit counseling to over 16,000 individuals, assisted 4,300 to purchase homes with safe, affordable mortgages, originated $7 million to 1200 micro entrepreneurs, opened 1500 Individual Development Accounts, facilitating $1.5 million in matching funds, and launched a wholly-owned CDFI that originates credit building and pay day loan alternatives.

About the Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is dedicated to helping community residents transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity — good places to work, do business and raise children. LISC mobilizes corporate, government and philanthropic support to provide local community development organizations with loans, grants and equity investments; local, statewide and national policy support; and technical and management assistance.

About Mercy Housing Lakefront

Mercy Housing Lakefront is the regional headquarters of the national Mercy Housing. Mercy Housing Lakefront develops, owns and manages affordable housing in an effort to build healthy, vibrant and stable communities. Currently MHL owns 21 properties in 10 neighborhoods serving nearly 3500 people in Chicago and Milwaukee.

About the National Latino Education Institute

National Latino Education Institute, (NLEI) is a not-for-profit community service agency that was founded in 1972. The organization evolved from an advocacy group formed in the late 60s by several community leaders who decided to challenge major employers in the city who consistently failed to hire qualified Hispanic applicants. Today, as a provider of quality employment training and placement services. Each year NLEI places hundreds of job seekers in industrial, clerical and professional positions with over 300 companies and directly trains and places over 200 students annually. Additionally, NLEI provides basic adult education and English as a Second Language classes to hundreds of adults.

About Neighborhood Housing Services

Established in 1975, NHS is a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization committed to helping homeowners and strengthening neighborhoods. Our mission is to create opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives, and strengthen their neighborhoods. This is done by educating and preparing new homeowners for success, lending to help people buy, fix and keep their homes, sustaining homeownership through foreclosure prevention services, preserving, rehabbing and investing in housing and building powerful and enduring community partnerships. NHS is a successful nonprofit because of the support of many stakeholders committed to helping homeowners and strengthening neighborhoods.

About Partners in Community Building

Partners In Community Building, Inc. began in September 2002 by a group of individuals from different backgrounds who share a common thread about life and living within communities. On a foundation of mutual respect, they work together to improve the life styles of seniors, families, and individuals of low to moderate income with excellence in housing, financing and community education. Our mission is to provide and foster safe, sanitary and affordable housing to low to moderate income individuals, families, and seniors, as well as related community focused financial, education and human services information.

About the South Side Community Federal Credit Union

SSCFCU’s mission is to equalize access to affordable credit and financial services and to fight poverty by providing meaningful asset-building opportunities, through financial education, savings, investments and community-development lending. SSCFCU is a not-for-profit, federally insured, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), chartered to serve Chicago’s south side, a geographic region that has been neglected by banks, abandoned by industry, and preyed upon by predatory lenders. By providing access to capital, financial education, and homebuyer counseling to low-income individuals, we fulfill our mission of fighting poverty, debt, poor credit, and predatory lending practices. We further provide the financial infrastructure that enables economically disadvantaged individuals on Chicago’s south side to progressively develop credit, build assets, and realize opportunities for individual and community development.

About the Spanish Coalition for Housing

The Spanish Coalition for Housing (SCH) is the lead agency helping Latino families with the housing needs in the greater Chicagoland area. Spanish Coalition for Housing was created in 1966. The mission of Spanish Coalition for Housing is to provide comprehensive counseling, education and housing resources necessary for housing product consumers to develop competence and responsibility in meeting their financial and housing needs, provide the necessary information and assistance to renters and homeowners, enable them to avoid re delinquencies, mortgage defaults and foreclosures, aggressively market available resources; to all Spanish speaking persons and others who require advocacy to which ensures that they have equitable opportunity to access resources.

About The Resurrection Project

Nearly twenty years ago, neighbors in Chicago’s Pilsen community began talking with new urgency about the blight, violence, and neglect they saw on their blocks. Six of the community’s parishes helped residents turn the talking into action when they joined together and each contributed $5,000 in seed money to start a community organization to address these infecting problems – and The Resurrection Project, starting with one employee and a community full of concerns, was born. Now two decades later, TRP has turned that initial $30,000 into over $174 million in community investment in the form of homes for ownership, rental housing, and community facilities (including 2 child care centers) in its target neighborhoods of Pilsen, Little Village, and Back of the Yards.

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JVS Chicago:
Cyndi Solitro, 312-673-3443
David Roskin, 212-559-4767
Media Affairs Chicago Treasurer’s Office:
Lilia Chacon, 312-744-2432

Release Summary

Eleven community organizations and Citi are announcing the creation of the Chicago Credit Builders Coalition that will work to expand financial inclusion through credit building and financial coaching


JVS Chicago:
Cyndi Solitro, 312-673-3443
David Roskin, 212-559-4767
Media Affairs Chicago Treasurer’s Office:
Lilia Chacon, 312-744-2432