Certified as a Minority Depository and Community Development Financial Institution, Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union continues to cultivate the seeds of inclusiveness sown by Cooperative Center's first General Manager, Zach Brown.
As an offshoot of Consumers' Cooperative of Berkeley Inc., Cooperative Center FCU's roots are intertwined with those of the communities we serve. Whether it's responding to the thorny issues of the '60s and '70s (redlining) by creating home loan programs, or combating today's predatory lending practices (payday loans) by offering emergency cash infusion loans; partnering with schools and non-profits to develop financial literacy, i.e., Community Financial Resources (CFR), and credit-builder loan programs.
Key Dates in Cooperative Center FCU's History
1942: Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union is chartered.
1943 (approximately): Maudelle Shirek, an African-American woman who would later become known as the "Conscience of Berkeley City Council", became the credit union's second full-time employee. From the credit union's very beginning, Cooperative Center FCU displayed leadership in social, economic, and civil right's issues as demonstrated, in part, by its hiring practices.
1953: Zach Brown is hired; "I found the Credit Union, which was being run by the Berkeley Co-Op on a very part-time basis, wasn't really providing adequate services to members, so I convinced the board to hire me to develop the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union."
1959: Matt Crawford applies and is hired, at Zach Brown's encouragement, as Cooperative Center FCU's first African-American Loan Officer. A former food clerk then assistant manager for Consumers' Cooperative of Berkeley, Matt's involvement both as a member then board member of the credit union begins shortly after its inception, "I was attracted to the Co-Op initially as the type of organization that I believed would serve people in the community as a main objective."
1961: Cooperative Center FCU begins offering financial counseling services. This, free of charge, member benefit was the first of its kind in California. The '60s saw a change in social mores regarding debt and credit resulting in individuals suddenly finding themselves over-extended. Along with counseling services, the credit union utilized debt consolidation programs and direct payments to creditors for those members facing financial difficulties.
1962: Zach Brown is instrumental in establishing Twin Pines Savings and Loan in response to the practice of "redlining" a discriminatory practice which contributed to the lack of access to mortgage loans for prospective minority, primarily African-American, homebuyers. When asked about the difficulty minorities faced in securing home loans during this time (redlining), Matt Crawford replied, ["Redlining was common in Berkeley, as elsewhere...Brown took leadership in seeking in seeking to establish a savings and loan to provide mortgage loans..."]
1988 - Today: When the Co-op Grocery Stores began closing, the decision was made to expand the credit union's field of membership by converting the charter from a Single Common Bond (Co-op Grocery Store employees and members) to Multiple Common Bond (varied employers and associational groups). Since that time the credit union has added over 120 "Select Employer" and Associational Groups including labor unions, non-profit employers, housing associations, professional and business associations, Parent Teacher Associations, and most recently, the Network of Bay Area Cooperatives.
Along the way Cooperative Center FCU also assisted with other credit unions seeking merger partners or requesting assistance through the acquisition process. The following credit unions completed mergers with Cooperative Center FCU, providing their existing members with uninterrupted credit union service and creating eligibility for the groups that fell within their charters.
1986: Shaklee CU
1990: Cal Berkeley FCU
1991: Alta Bates FCU
Certifications and Designations
2010: Community Development Financial Institution
2016: Certified Minority Depository Institution
Today, Cooperative Center FCU serves nearly 13,000 members, offering products such as first time car buyer programs, home loans, emergency cash infusion loans, and more.
As a member owned and governed financial institution, we are committed to providing quality services and education in a caring, responsible, professional manner, while maintaining long-term financial strength.
Cooperative Center FCU will be our members' primary resource for financial services and education to attain their economic goals.
Our Seven Cooperative Principles
Voluntary & Open Membership:
Open for membership to all who qualify under our Federal Charter No. 04900
Democratic Member Control:
Members participate in the democratic election of a Board of Directors whose function is to create policies and make decisions for the good of the entire membership.
Member Economic Participation:
We encourage our members to make us their primary financial institution. When members participate in the cooperative financial model, the entire credit union membership individually and collectively benefits through competitive loan and share rates and lower fees for services.
Autonomy & Independence:
We operate for the benefit of the members, not for outside shareholders.
Education, Training & Information:
We provide financial literacy and money management education free and available to all.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives:
We actively support full cooperation among cooperative financial institutions. Credit unions are more than just financial institutions. We are a movement.
Concern for Community:
Cooperative Center FCU is a contributing corporate citizen. Building sustainable community wealth is at the heart of our mission.