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Green business leaders and aspiring green jobs seekers alike will be inspired by the impact story of Melissa Malkin-Weber, Sustainability Director at Self-Help Credit Union. Writing for Green Money Journal, Malkin-Weber shared some of the powerful work she’s contributed to at Self-Help Credit Union, an innovative community development financial institution serving communities across North Carolina. Self-Help provides responsible financial services, lends to individuals,  small businesses and nonprofits, develops real estate; and promotes fair financial practices across North Carolina and the nation.
In a short time, we have increased investments in green projects and become more strategic about integrating environmental sustainability into our day-to-day work, from encouraging more car-pooling among our staff to incorporating major energy conservation in multi-million dollar projects. We developed processes to weigh the benefits of energy upgrades against expenses, and we selected the most practical, cost effective options for our buildings.
We received grants to supplement our own efficiency investments, updated our energy tracking and benchmarking, and engaged vendor partners in improving their environmental practices.  At the same time, we worked on environmental awareness among all of our staff, emphasizing that even small actions count—such as using one paper towel instead of two. Self-Help has poured $75 million in capital access into solar farms, and connections through peer CDFIs RSF Social Finance and Craft3 led Self-Help to work on green business and nonprofit projects for home energy efficiency and a new eco-lodge under construction in Yosemite National Park.
About UsGreen America's Green Business Network® is the first, largest, and most diverse network of socially and environmentally responsible businesses in the country. We provide the tools, the information, and the consumer base to help you thrive in today's competitive green marketplace. The Green Business Network is a program of Green America®, the nation's leading non-profit organization working to build a green and just economy.
I’m late for my lunch appointment and covering the 20-mile stretch of highway between Raleigh and Durham at a brisk pace. I’m heading downtown to meet Kristen Cox, an investment associate at Self-Help Credit Union.
The idea is to put some chunk of our family money to work supporting conscious capitalist organizations and projects. This is the gist of the Enough Project: putting a small slice of our money to work in ways that are consistent with the things we value. There’s something about this drive, about this check, about this Enough Project that has me thinking hard about my crazy relationship with money these past ten years.
It had been six months since my last paycheck, and my job options were so dim that I passed my days filling out applications on the Halliburton website. I remember lying across my bed in the middle of one sweltering Charlotte summer day, my roommate’s dog resting her muzzle on my thigh while my brain dizzied itself spinning through every desperate plan that might keep me afloat just a bit longer.
Around that time I was flipping through our local paper (1) and came across a story about Martin Eakes, co-founder and CEO of a Durham-based credit union called Self-Help. Here was a man with the skill and wit to name his salary in any bank, law firm, or think tank in the nation. In looking at my winter expenses from the previous year, I noticed that my natural gas bill soared from $70 to about $160 per month once I turned the heat on. Sixty degrees might sound pleasant for outside temperature, but it’s downright frigid in a house.
Kate allowed the game once more the following winter, but she was deep in the throes of pregnancy and openly doubting my frugal inclinations (what with our baby girl coming and all).
This concept of having enough, what is it if not satisfying those needs at the base of Maslow’s pyramid? Maslow told us that few ever get to the promised land of transcendence, that peak of his pyramid. Perhaps Rockefeller neared his own peak toward the end of his life as he became philanthropist ne plus ultra. With this sliver that is our emergency fund, I can also support the mission of a man for whom I suspect Maslow’s ghost smiles approvingly. Select from the topics below to learn more about the financial resources available for your business. On this page, discover more about why Charlotte is a great place to start and grow a business.
The resources on this page are organized into the two following categories: Local Resources and Online Tools. The resources on this page are organized into the following topics: Charlotte Funding Programs, Charlotte SBA 504 Lenders, and Technical Assistance. The nonprofit Center for Community Self-Help (or Self-Help) combines several organizations that together provide financing, technical support, consumer financial services and advocacy for those left out of the economic mainstream. We help borrowers nationwide build wealth by providing fair and responsible loans to businesses, consumers and prospective homebuyers. We strengthen under-served communities by financing nonprofits, child care centers, community health facilities, public charter schools, and residential and commercial real estate projects. We provide responsible financial services through our network of state- and federally-chartered credit unions. Over time we have demonstrated that low-income borrowers pose no greater credit risk than other borrowers. The Center is a charitable nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that develops and coordinates Self-Help's programs, raises resources, and advocates for economic opportunity. Self-Help Credit Union is a member-owned, federally insured, state-chartered credit union in North Carolina. Self-Help Federal Credit Union is a member-owned, federally chartered and federally insured credit union. The Ventures Fund is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) loan fund capitalized with loans and grants from foundations, religious organizations, corporations, and government sources. The Center for Responsible Lending is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy affiliate.
Founded in 1980, Self-Help works to create and protect ownership and economic opportunity for all, especially minority, women-headed, rural, and low-wealth families and communities. Katie Parker: Can you talk a bit about your background and how you came to be involved in this line of work?
After one year, I moved to California for grad school, but stayed on Self-Help’s board for much of the next 20 years. Before we talk more about Self-Help’s expansion into California, can you give some background about the organization? Then we added the phrase “for all, especially.” This was after we focused our efforts in California on retail credit union activity, which was a bit different from what we did before—more on that later. The fundamental mission of the organization has never changed since it was founded in 1980. Self-Help refers to itself as “family of organizations.” Can you expand more on this, and talk about the evolution of the different organizations? The Center for Community Self-Help is, in a sense, the umbrella nonprofit under which this whole family of organizations sits.
For a long time, Self-Help’s activity is what we now often refer to as the more traditional community development work.
The primary entity through which that classic community development activity happens is something that we call the Self-Help Ventures Fund, structured very much like a revolving loan fund.
The third major entity that was formed was The Center for Responsible Lending, founded in 2002.
I have said to many people that the great decision that Martin and I made at the very beginning was to not simply try to replicate in California what we were doing effectively in North Carolina or elsewhere, but to give ourselves the time to really get to know the California landscape. Even though the Self-Help Credit Union founded in 1984 is a credit union, it really didn’t operate the way most credit unions do with branches that people came into and opened checking accounts and opened savings accounts. A lot of our early policy work was around predatory mortgage lending and trying to eliminate predatory practices in the mortgage lending arena.
Unlike the banking world, where if your financial stability is at risk, there is at least an option of going out and raising more capital from investors, credit unions are member-owned cooperatives. Between our own Self-Help parent capital and some philanthropic capital, we were able to raise money mostly in the form of very long-term loans.
Over the course of about four years, we absorbed the operations of eight different credit unions and brought them together into Self-Help Federal. We recognized that people were using check-cashing operations, as an example, for a very good reason.
Then as they got to know us as an institution and our tellers, or,as we call them, member service representatives, they could talk to them about the benefits of an account. You may be familiar with an organization called CFSI, the Center for Financial Services Innovation. At the same time that we were absorbing these merged operations, we were also launching and then managing a small number of the hybrid branches, and continue to do so, trying to prove the economic model. But the cooperative structure of a credit union is still exactly the same, and Self-Help Federal is the same as all of the credit unions that merged into us. This means as mergers unfolded, people that were serving on the board before wouldn’t really be able to play the same role. What we’ve been working hard to do, and to be honest it’s very much a work in process, is to create local involvement at the branch level. What enabled us to do that was a couple of things: First, having been in the credit union industry and having managed a credit union for 20 years, we had a knowledge base and relationships with regulators and with others without which we could never have done what we’ve done.
We often talk about the fact that Self-Help Federal, in just five years, scaled to the same size as Self-Help Credit Union scaled to in 25 years. That obviously is a very different kind of scaling than the kind they talk about in the technology world, where you build a business or an operation, and once you figure out the formula, it doesn’t take a lot more capital or it doesn’t take a lot more people to grow it dramatically. What are some policies that you would like to see that could help facilitate the adoption of some of the innovations you’ve developed at Self-Help across the sector as a whole? If I were to boil that down to one, we believe there is a need to ensure that any and all lending being done is held to a standard of ability to repay. In the regulatory environment, if all lenders were held to a standard of only making loans where the borrowers had the real ability to repay and satisfy that obligation in a reasonably permanent way, that would be a huge help to taking predatory products out of the system and creating more room for responsible, affordable products. Search Engine Optimization Drive more traffic to your website by infusing valuable content.
Capital Community Bank is a Utah bank founded in 1993 that provides deposit and lending products for its local customers and prides itself on improving life in Utah communities. The responsive design is clean and organized, and it adjusts to fit the screen size of any mobile device customers use when they're on the go. Our copywriting department overhauled the website’s content to make it more informative, conversational and consistent in tone.
Over 35 years starting with worker-owned cooperatives, Self-Help has made $249 million in direct loans, supporting everything from healthy food to clean energy.
We were delighted to find that we had greened Self-Help activities to the tune of $1.7 million (net present value) when we totaled projected energy savings, program benefits and new green loans. Home to both rising social and eco enterprises and the most established green businesses around. It’s empty save one checkbook wrapped in the same navy blue vinyl cover my bank issued me when I opened the account more years ago than I care to remember. My mind spun vivid daydreams in which I drove 18-wheel supply trucks in caravans criss-crossing the deserts of  Iraq or Afghanistan, pulling a kevlar bucket tight by its chinstrap when the occasional mortar shell came whistling down.

Always confident my career would progress through ever-rising spirals of bigger titles and more money. I had lost all control over money, and my desperation for it was driving my most important life decisions.
In that funny, unpredictable way life tends to work, two distant connections led to two job offers, both coming just a few days apart from each other.
And while so many other resolutions I made in that same period would come and go, the “never again” pledge held fast.
I forced myself to imagine being back in Charlotte three years earlier, staring at the ceiling from my bed. We would fortify ourselves each evening with sweaters and scarves, wool socks covering our toes and wool caps pulled down over our ears. Take your rate of return, whether it be interest you’re being paid on a loan or pace at which you expect an investment to compound, and divide that into 72. The large numbers come later, and the magic stops if you pull cash out before the interest rate gets to work on top of those large numbers. The virtue celebrated in Walter Mischel’s famous marshmallow experiment.(2) But with the Rule of 72, it quickly turns to mental hoarding.
To my uber-practical, uber-rational mind his ideas have just seemed unserious and therefore unworthy of my serious attention. Maybe there’s something to this pyramid of needs where you must satisfy those basic requirements of food, shelter and safety before you’re free to take care of emotional needs. When Joe Heller told his friend Kurt Vonnegut that he had no envy for their billionaire host with a mansion on Shelter Island, I imagine Heller’s “knowledge that I’ve got enough” (3) as a wink to Abe Maslow, a recognition that the bottom layers of his pyramid are filled.
Most of us will be forever bogged down in the layers below, struggling to satisfy our more basic needs.
But prior to that, before he faced the abyss of mortality, he was compelled to keep pouring more into the base of his pyramid. He didn’t need a mansion on Shelter Island or just a bit more money (always a little more).
I’m in Durham now chatting with Kristen, my Self-Help adviser, on the ground floor of the credit union’s headquarters. Without sacrificing my needs for security, I can dedicate some capital to the benefit of my community by placing it under the guidance of a man who seems to need so much less than I. It’s a small beginning for the Enough Project, but it’s a beginning that suits my needs right now.
My first essay about it featured Zingerman’s Community of Businesses in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Regardless of what stage you’re in, with a good business plan and experience, as well as personal or business equity and collateral, there are resources available that may be able to help with financing your business.
To refine your search, click on the topic that best describes what you’re looking for, and take the time to explore the tools and resources available to you. From the economic development and transportation to the culture, hospitality and tourism, the Charlotte region offers the quality of life that people and businesses are looking for. Select the topic that best describes what you’re looking for, and discover all of the resources available to you in Charlotte. To refine your search, click on the category that best describes what you’re looking for. With easy approval processes and flexible repayment terms, these programs can help lenders help their business clients start, grow and be successful. These entities include: Self-Help Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, Self-Help Ventures Fund and the Center for Responsible Lending.
Our borrowers have proven their determination to repay their loans, build their businesses, improve their communities, and build wealth through home ownership and home equity. As a nonprofit entity, its mission is to increase access to responsible and affordable financial services in underserved communities, initially in California. It manages Self-Help's higher-risk business loans, real estate development, and home loan secondary market programs.
CRL is dedicated to protecting home ownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices. In 2006, Self Help expanded into California and, in 2008, launched Self-Help Federal Credit Union to increase access to affordable, responsible financial services in low-income communities.
After graduating from undergrad and working two years for a business consulting firm, I wanted to do something service oriented before going to grad school.
I spent 14 years with a small firm doing private investing, knowing that someday I would return to economic justice work.
And in 2005, when I was having this conversation with Martin, they had just decided to open an office in Oakland. We were inheriting through merger and starting credit union branches that were designed to serve the communities that are articulated in our mission, but we were also inheriting members who were more middle class.
We often talk about it as lines of service that don’t necessarily tie specifically to legal entities. It’s a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that operates like a lot of community development organizations do. We always tried to use what we learned with regards to low-income communities to then influence policy so that the playing field could be leveled in a systematic way. You mentioned earlier you were interested in opening an office in California for policy reasons. But increasingly, our research was focused on consumer lending areas, in particular the payday lending industry and the car title lending industry, which we and many others believed were using predatory product structures and predatory pricing so that it was stripping wealth from low-income communities that could least afford it. So both because we saw a growing need for more responsible, community-based financial institutions meeting the banking needs of underserved communities, and by doing so we could add to our knowledge base and support our policy work, we decided to make that our focus in California. There really isn’t a place on the balance sheet to bring outside investors in to raise your capital and satisfy the regulators that you’re safe and sound.
We were able to start Self-Help Federal with a strong balance sheet, one that could afford to absorb credit unions whose fundamental practices and business were fine. So while, in some ways, Self-Help Federal is a very young institution, it has the very long legacy of Self-Help going back to 1980 and it has the legacies of all of these credit unions. To ask them to come to a credit union branch, even if our intentions were great, would require that they make some significant changes. It might not be on their first visit or even their second or their third or their fourth, however, at some point they might decide to open an account and enter the financial mainstream with a path toward growth with access to credit.
They’re one of the leading resources for information about financial services to underserved communities. We feel very good that the market likes the idea and we’re not having trouble attracting customers and members. As you mentioned, a lot of the credit unions that Self-Help absorbed have really long histories and deep ties to the community. It’s interesting to note that when Self-Help was first formed in 1980, before it created Self-Help Credit Union and before it became a lender, its mission was what it still is, but the strategy was to help in the formation of worker-owned cooperatives. Most of the credit unions that merged into Self-Help Federal were either single-branch credit unions or a very small number of branches in a close geographic proximity. We let the board focus on the critical oversight responsibilities and the fiduciary duty to make sure that management is running things effectively and in the best interests of the members, and that our safety and soundness is strong. And the second was that, as an institution, we had a track record and relationships with funders and financial strength that brought stability. But it’s an apples to oranges comparison because Self-Help Federal was able to leverage all of the knowledge, credibility and relationships that were built up over those 25 years. We are definitely trying to use technology to help grow specific products that we’ve introduced. There are many different ways to make money in lending—charging very high fees, having loans that roll over time and time and time again, for example.
Borrowers who are struggling can borrow from one pocket of their money to pay another pocket, but then it just leaves the first pocket that much more empty than it was before. They came to us seeking a refreshed, responsive website that blends modern functionality and appearance with an air of professionalism while maintaining a warm and friendly vibe to engage visitors. It also provides the canvas for the picturesque imagery of the Utah landscape and the variety of photographs that appear throughout the site. We created new pages of content in some parts of the website and enhanced other areas by combining and then distilling information that had been scattered throughout the original site.
While North Carolina is showing few signs of autumn, some cool air rolled in the night before and pushed the summer humidity out to the coast. I’m less and less compelled to make every dollar go into investments that aim for the highest possible returns. I’m not sure why, but I’m a little nervous about using one of those checks to transfer our six-month emergency fund over to Self-Help. Staring at the ceiling for what must have been five, maybe ten minutes of total quiet, the despair slowly gave way to a simmering anger. Within a week I had accepted one and moved to Raleigh with a financial lifeline in the form of $1,500 cash to cover moving expenses.
Every time I made a few bucks, I intentionally called back the desperate memory of that Charlotte day.
The paper was donning him “Tar Heel of the Year” in recognition of all the good he had done lending money to the working poor so they could start businesses and contribute to their communities.
We were only recently married, and this sense of being “provider” was weighing heavy on me.
We would set a budget and hold each other to the competition of finishing the month beneath it. So we started a game in October, enjoying that brief window when the weather required neither air conditioning nor forced heat. Fortunately Kate had the good sense to cut-off the competition that December night when I was traveling (cozy, no doubt, in my well-heated hotel room), turning on the furnace to warm herself. Rather than let the temperature drop into the 50’s, we would simply hold the thermostat at 60. He fluttered in and out of my many college psychology courses, but his theory was always subsumed by a fixation on those things that break in the human brain, those many neuroses, psychoses and other DSM-defined abnormalities. And you must address those emotional needs before focusing energy on transcending yourself and contributing something to the benefit of others. That he’s free to channel his energy into works of literature that feed the minds of readers even if it only makes him a little money. His sense of enough has allowed him to transcend, investing his energy into something that would benefit so many others because his own needs were modest and easy enough to satisfy. We’re sitting on well-used furniture in a cramped office made to feel even smaller by stack after stack of boxes lining the walls.
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We had the opportunity to talk to Steve Zuckerman, President of Self-Help Federal Credit Union, about Self-Help’s evolution, and their innovative work in California. And just by luck, one of my closest colleagues in the consulting firm was one of the founding directors of Self-Help. It opened in January of 2006, and in September of 2006 I became the one Self-Help employee in California. We added two words: “and protect,” realizing that during that period of time, the predatory financing practices were draining wealth out of low-income communities faster than we or any other community development organization was helping to build it. We were very happy to serve people who were not part of our mission target audience, but who were just people who wanted a good, responsible cooperative place to do their financial banking.
Together, our organizations provide financing, technical support, consumer financial services and advocacy.
We did a small amount of real estate development, but were never particularly big in the development of multi-family housing.
Can you talk more about this, and what sets your work in California apart from your other operations? We raised most of our deposits from socially-responsible depositors around the country and then we had lending offices. Because we were very much a part of the community development credit union world through our credit union in North Carolina, we started to see that community development credit unions, or even just small credit unions serving lower-income communities that didn’t think of themselves as community development credit unions, were going to be under financial stress because of the recession.
We said if we can be the landing pad for these credit unions so that they can continue to serve their communities, we can also create a larger, more efficient credit union dedicated to serving these same communities.
These credit unions are a critical part of who we are today, and they have long histories—one operation extending all the way back into the 1800s. They’re walking through a different door with different people, and they also have to change how they do their business—they were cashing checks.
It might be the tenth visit, but they could make that change on their timetable, not right up front. They were the ones who initially coined the unbanked and underbanked expression, “unbanked” being people who have no relationship with an insured depository bank or credit union, and “underbanked” being someone who does, but they still get most of their financial services from non-depositories. But we haven’t yet built them to a scale wherein they’re financially sustainable; that’s still a work in process. That Board of Directors is elected by our members, and hires a management team that’s entrusted to run the operation for the benefit of the members.
It doesn’t have fiduciary responsibility, but it enables the branch manager to have a group of people in that community who care deeply about the community, providing input, assistance and feedback on how well that particular branch of Self-Help Federal Credit Union is serving its community. Self-Help Federal Credit Union went from zero assets in formation in 2008 to just shy of $600 million in assets today. We were able to attract fairly major philanthropic investment that enabled us to have the capital we needed to grow as fast as we did. If there’s a takeaway here, it’s that very often in some kinds of scaling, it may look like it’s a standing start, but often there is a huge foundation that’s been built, enabling that rapid scaling of one particular piece. And this gets to the scaling—If you try to automate lending to bring the cost down, it then makes it harder to really understand somebody’s ability to repay. We added pops of dark green and orange against the white background along with subtle gradients that accentuate the vibrant images.
The results complement the blend of professionalism and warmth accomplished by the site’s design. With a shining sun, it’s perfect for rolling down the windows and letting the wind swirl around the faded leather interior of my old Toyota. If there’s a tradeoff to be made between earning the highest return possible versus one that’s merely reasonable, I’m willing to explore the reasonable option when it means the money supports something constructive, meaningful and that provides some benefit to my community.
And I had a wallet full of maxed-out credit cards, a mortgage-sized student loan payment, and a car note to boot. Perhaps my only option to avoid whatever comes after one runs out of money to pay his creditors.
I had become re-acquainted with Kate, fallen in love and was beginning to look for engagement rings.
I had decided that we needed a three-month cushion of cash as an emergency fund just in case something happened that pinched our finances. I shared with her the progress we’ve made as our emergency savings blossomed into a nest egg, much of which was now invested.
The more money he put into the care of his security needs, the wider his base grew, the more he needed to pour to keep filling it. He could build Self-Help Credit Union into a force for building a healthier, sustainable community in which even the working poor could participate. Let me collect just a bit more, fill the base of my pyramid for another year (or maybe two), and then I’ll have enough. I’m writing that check, moving those funds from the for-profit bank that holds the bulk of our money and investments. Its members include individuals, nonprofit and religious organizations, and other socially responsible people and institutions.
I hired a small team to figure out what Self-Help could do in California that would both be good for community development as well as add to Self-Help’s total impact, and we grew from there. And so the notion of protecting the wealth that lower-income families have is just as, if not more, important than developing new ways of helping build this wealth. We focused on single-family housing as a means for low-income families to begin to build wealth. That was founded in 1984 to support that traditional community economic development activity. Faced with higher unemployment rates, more people were defaulting, particularly on their auto loans. 1) They can either convince the regulator that they have a way to earn themselves out of the problem, so that their business will generate enough net income to replenish the balance sheet and bring them back to a stable position. Then we can not only make sure they don’t get shut down or get merged into a credit union that cares less about low-income communities, but we can actually take one plus one and get three by bringing many of these credit unions together and getting some of the efficiencies of scale.
And at the same time, a lot of what are often known as alternative financial service providers, which are the payday lenders, the check-cashing operations, the pawn shops, were growing dramatically. And that was one of the reasons why, when we decided that we wanted to have an insured depository, we chose to create a credit union and not a bank. But we now have a board that is representing the interests of about 50,000 members, whereas each of our merged credit unions might have been serving and looking out for the interests of 2,000, 4,000, 5,000, members, within a close geographic area. One of the challenges we have around scaling, and this is something that I think anybody working in underserved markets has, is very often the products that are most important to achieving our mission involve small dollars and a lot of people. Somebody may borrow for 14 days, and they may in fact pay off that loan because they got a paycheck, but they not only paid off a loan, but also a very high fee.
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The new account is covered by NCUA insurance, so it has all the protections the FDIC provides at my bank. I was making more money than ever before, and the pay kept rising with some quick success that brought promotions and added responsibility at work. We would shiver for several minutes before our own bodies generated the heat for sleeping warmth. At the time Self-Help was a four-year-old start-up nonprofit and I was staff person number five. We were also a very active mortgage lender, creating responsible mortgages for people who couldn’t get the prime mortgages. We thought it would be very helpful to have a federally insured depository so that we could attract insured deposits, a very low cost of capital, and then use that money to do the lending activities permissible in that regulated environment. We weren’t making unsecured signature loans, where somebody just wants to borrow $5,000 to do X, Y, or Z.
Likewise, if a credit union had gotten into the mortgage lending arena, as the housing crisis started to take hold, all it took was a year or two of significantly greater loan losses and these credit unions could become financially unstable. This created a financial services gap, where you had one set of communities that were being served by these larger and larger banks—I say that generically. We thought, “What if we built a branch that looked like a check casher and provided the same services of a check casher?” We would offer a better check-cashing price, and the client would only have to change one thing: where they were doing business.
I believe the unbanked and underbanked combined is about 40 million households in the United States. They’re then going to run out of money again before the next paycheck comes, so they borrow again. A spartan lifestyle allowed me to get those credit cards reined in, and I started saving again. The majority of our wealth will remain invested in opportunities I expect to compound in value and provide us a more comfortable life than what $60,000 a year would allow a family of four.
The work they were doing was great, the people were great, and I worked with them for a year in the mid-80s.
These individuals were responsible and they had enough income, but you had to work a little harder to figure that out. Together, those two entities were supporting a lot of the same activities: the mortgage lending, the small business lending, et cetera.
We really weren’t doing that consumer lending at any scale through the Self-Help Credit Union in North Carolina. And so we hoped, and continue to hope, that a model like our hybrid branch is able to help bring some of these people into the financial mainstream. Clearly the membership can’t engage at an institutional level, and we as management of the credit union can’t engage with our community of members in the same way. And so that person was able to pay off the loan, but they really weren’t able to repay the obligation in a permanent way. A little bit of fun for the newlyweds trying to figure out this marriage partnership would work when it came to things like money.
We refer to that whole set of activities as our traditional or classic community development activities. And we saw that this was going to become a growing problem for the credit unions that were serving the communities that we cared about.
Then you had another set of communities that were increasingly not being served by the federally-insured depositories. And the idea was to build a network of these hybrid branches and see if they could both meet a market need and help people transition into the financial mainstream. And the next thing you know, we were talking about what it might look like and why it might help Self-Help better fulfill its mission to have operations in California. We looked at it all and asked, “What can we do about that?” and decided to create a branch model that was a hybrid between the two.

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