Governor Cuomo Announces a 2020 Statewide Proposal for CDFIs

At the beginning of this new decade, we shared our 2020 vision: To continue to explore ways we can invest our dollars responsibly, so more people have access to the financial tools they need to build wealth. Thankfully, we aren’t standing alone in this work. We proudly share our mission of financial inclusion with the 83 other US Treasury Certified Community Development Financial Institution Funds (CDFl’s)– mission-driven financial institutions, banks, credit unions, and nonprofits–in New York State. And, Governor Cuomo does too.

Governor Cuomo recently announced the “21st Proposal of his 2020 State of the State: Expanding Access to Safe and A/fordable Financial Services.” In partnership with CDFls, his proposal includes the following strategies:

  • $25 million in new funding over five years to increase access to affordable financial products in underserved communities across New YorkState through, New York’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI)
  • The launch of a statewide “Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment” as a single-stop provider of financial services and providers across housing, student loan, debt, and general financial literacy
  • The expansion of access to safe and affordable banking services, credit and financial education, particularly for women and communities of color, typically excluded from the current financial systems.

To execute these strategies, Governor Cuomo proposes to work with CDFls, who, like us, are often the sole providers of banking and other financial products and services in low-income communities. Under the Governor’s proposal, participating CDFls will leverage this funding, providing upwards of $300 million in targeted investment in underserved communities in New York for consumers, affordable housing, and small businesses.
Governor Cuomo’s vision includes expanding access to low-cost bank accounts to low-income New Yorkers who often find that the only accessible banking service in their communities are high-cost check cashers who take huge finance fees out of people’s paychecks. According to the FDIC, approximately 25 percent of New York households do not have bank accounts or seldom use one and rely on costly non-bank services for their financial activities. Expanding financial literacy education and access to microcredit for small businesses is also part of the proposal.
In a press release announcing his strategies, Governor Cuomo acknowledged the prevalence of exploitation by predatory lenders in low-income communities in New York:

“We’ve made significant strides expanding access to banking services for low income New Yorkers, but too many people still live in banking deserts,” Governor Cuomo said. “As a result, these New Yorkers often turn to costly check-cashing services or take out illegal predatory payday loans because they can’t access affordable small business loans at community banks. These sweeping proposals will provide New Yorkers with the services they need to build their credit, improve financial literacy, and take charge of their economic futures – helping build a fairer and stronger New York.”

Linda MacFarlane, the Executive Director of CDFI, Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region and chair of the New York State CDFI Coalition of which we are a proud member, has been discussing the proposal with the Governor’s office, the New York State Department of Financial Services and Empire State Development Corp. and has “high hopes” for the Governor’s new proposal.

We do too. We are proud to serve New York City as one of 83 CDFIs in the state who helped shape the New York State CDFI Fund to expand access to safe and affordable products. Creating access to credit and wealth-building financial tools for communities typically excluded is why we headquartered in the Bronx—and why we continue to explore ways in which to serve New York City as a mission-driven, ethical bank.

We invite you to join us in the mission. 

Register for this year’s NY State CDFI Conference in Albany, March 30-31st. You will learn more about how you can join CDFIs in making a difference every day in New York, State. Invest your dollars locally with us. Open a Green Checking account with us today. When you bank in your community, you support the credit and wealth-building of your neighbors and local businesses.

Read our 2020 Vision and follow us on LinkedIn, where we share stories about what it means to be an ethical bank, and our vision for a shared and durable prosperity for all.

Heidy De La Cruz, our Bronx Branch Manager, is in service to her team and her customers. With every interaction, her mission is to offer support, even if it’s not related to banking.  

“I always try to support a customer in any way they need it. Sometimes it’s offering a point of view or providing resources. I like to help people in any way possible even if it’s for only ten minutes,” says Heidy.  

When Heidy started working as a receptionist at Spring Bank six years ago, she knew she wanted to build her career in banking. But looking back she can hardly believe how far she’s come so quickly.  

“When I started at Spring Bank, I had a smaller mentality for life. I felt comfortable as a receptionist. But within a couple of years, I saw new opportunities, and I started asking for more work,” says Heidy.  

With the encouragement of colleagues, it started to click for Heidy. Not only was she capable of succeeding as a banker, but she was also in pursuit of becoming a manager.  

“I started growing. I asked the bankers if they needed help because I wanted to learn more. Working as a receptionist wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to learn all aspects of the bank so that I could easily solve any client problem,” says Heidy.

Heidy’s career development is no surprise to us. Her commitment to her learning and her leadership has paid off. In just a year becoming the Branch Manager of our Bronx branch, she led the effort to increase the size and effectiveness of her team. She gives credit to her colleagues and her hardworking team for their consistent encouragement and support.  

“I doubted myself so many times. But I have great support at Spring Bank. If I ask for help, they are always willing to answer my questions, “says Heidy.  

In addition to her role as Bronx Branch Manager, Heidy is also studying Business Administration with a focus on management. She receives her associate degree in the spring of 2020 and begins her bachelor’s degree at Baruch College that fall. Heidy is also the proud mother of three, beautiful girls.  

“My girls are my highest motivation. I can’t tell them to be someone if their mom isn’t someone,” says Heidy. “They tell me, ‘Mom, I want to be like you.’ I tell them, ‘No, you’ll do better than me. When life gives you an opportunity, make the most of it. If you do good by people, good things will happen to you,” says Heidy.

‘Doing good by people’ is the approach Heidy takes every day in her work at Spring Bank. She views each customer as part of the Spring Bank Family.

“We are not an ordinary bank. We know who you are, and when you bank with us, you become our family. We will offer you 100 percent of our attention, know your family, care about your future. That’s why you should bank with us,” says Heidy.

We are very proud of Heidy, her hard work and commitment to her growth and the “family” she’s grown at our headquarters in the Bronx. Learn how you can join the Spring Bank family by opening a personal checking account online. Check out our small business checking. And stop by our branches in the Bronx or Harlem. As Heidy puts it, “if we can do good by you,” in any way, let us know.