Express Advantage provides direct financial support, education services, and asset building opportunities to current and potential members of Express Credit Union. Express Credit Union, which works in coordination with Express Advantage, is the only state chartered, federally insured and low-income designated credit union in King County. Through this partnership Express Advantage helps low-income individuals navigating the financial system and utilize the tools provided by the credit union in order to build financial and social assets that will help people become more stable, secure, and empowered.
Data from the first year and a half of Express Advantage’s partnership with the credit union shows significant progress in moving low-income members towards financial stability. Express Advantage has provided outreach to over 3,000 low income King County residents; held 68 financial education classes and 18 special financial education classes; and has provided 300 individual financial counseling sessions. These services have contributed to member’s increase in ability to open and manage a credit union account, belief that their money is safe in a bank or credit union, belief that they could handle an unexpected bill, and reported progress toward their financial goals. In this time over 1,400 new members have joined the credit union, 90% of whom are low-income and more than half would have had difficulty accessing services at a mainstream financial institution.
Due to the success of this model Express Advantage has begun the process of scaling up to not only expand the number of people served directly but to over time influence other actors in the financial service sector to create more flexible and accessible products and services for low income unbanked and under-banked consumers.
From its start Express Advantage has partnered with non-profit organizations in King County such as YWCA, Solid Ground, Refugee Women’s Alliance, Neighborhood House, and Washington CASH to help shape their work. These partner organizations contribute to the design of products and services, and provide support services. To further their reach into the community, Express Community Member Service Representatives are hosted at several partner agency offices. Through collaboration with community based non-profit organizations Express Advantage leverages the access and trust that social service agencies possess in targeted low-income communities.
Express Advantage’s Community Member Service Representatives increase access to a variety of free culturally appropriate financial education classes and support services by maintaining regular hours at partner agencies. Members of their staff currently speak six different languages in addition to English and are making efforts to reach the many other community members which they cannot yet accommodate.
Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:
Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:
$15,000.00||support general operating expenses.|