Saying he has “reinforced” his commitment to financial inclusion, NCUA Board Chairman Rodney Hood this week announced a new program sponsored by the agency to do just that, by launching the “Advancing Communities through Credit, Education, Stability, and Support” (ACCESS) initiative.
“As Chairman, I have consistently characterized financial inclusion as the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” Hood said in a statement. “There is a clear business case for credit unions to enhance their outreach to underserved and underbanked populations. The NCUA will dedicate resources from across its lines of business to bring more Americans into the financial mainstream and provide them with greater access to safe and affordable financial services.”
NCUA, in its release, said the ACCESS program is designed to assemble leaders within the agency to “refresh and modernize regulations, policies, and programs in support of greater financial inclusion within the agency and the credit union system.” The release stated that the program will build on earlier successes in financial inclusion by NCUA and address the financial services and financial literacy needs of underserved and diverse communities across the U.S, as well as expand opportunities for employment.
“Government agencies can make a vital contribution in terms of coordinating efforts, helping to set appropriate standards, and directing resources where they can make a real difference,” Hood said. “That’s certainly what we’ve been doing and will continue to do at the NCUA.”
Financial inclusion and diversity has lately run into some political headwinds. Last week, 150 business groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — sent a letter to the White House saying an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in September has had a chilling effect on legitimate diversity and inclusion training and causes confusion among employers. “We urge you to withdraw the Executive Order and work with the business and nonprofit communities on an approach that would support appropriate workplace training programs,” the letter from the group stated.