NCUA has $1.5 million for grants to low-income credit unions in 2021 focused on digital/cyber efforts, MDIs, underserved

Approximately $1.5 million in awards to support digital services and cybersecurity, mentoring of small minority depository institution (MDI) credit unions, and service to underserved communities will be available to low-income-designated credit unions during 2021, the federal credit union regulator said in a notice published Tuesday.

Applications to these funds from the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF) will be accepted from federally insured credit unions that have the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) “low-income” designation. Non-federally insured, state-chartered credit unions may also apply; these institutions will have to complete additional application forms and agree to be examined by the NCUA to receive the funds, the agency said.

The NCUA has set no minimum amount for a CDRLF award but has capped the amounts that will be provided in each award according to initiative, as follows:

  • Digital Services and Cybersecurity, $7,000;
  • MDI Mentoring, $25,000;
  • Underserved Outreach, $50,000

The Digital Services and Cybersecurity initiative provides financial assistance to credit unions to modernize, innovate, and protect credit unions and members against cyberattack. The agency is also encouraging credit unions to apply for this initiative to help them meet the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic (for example, by facilitating remote work or creating new products and services that can be accessed by members without physical access to the branch). Credit unions seeking an award in this initiative may apply for up to three eligible projects: implementation of mobile/online banking features; remote workforce management and solutions; and/or strengthen cybersecurity.

The MDI Mentoring initiative is aimed at encouraging strong and experienced credit unions to provide guidance to small MDI credit unions to increase their ability to thrive and serve low-income and underserved populations. This grant may be used for eligible expenses associated with facilitating a new mentorship relationship. A well-developed plan is required, and applicants are expected to meet the objectives of this initiative by establishing a mentorship to accomplish specific objectives: credit union growth and expansion, such as growing the membership or the loan portfolio; improved management and operations, such as leadership training, developing new policy and procedure documents, or responding to exam or audit findings; increased credit union capabilities, such as introducing a new program or service or improving credit union systems; and/or other objectives.

The Underserved Outreach initiative is designed to help credit unions implement innovative outreach strategies to increase access to financial products and services in underserved communities. The goal of this initiative is for credit unions to improve the financial health of individuals in underserved communities by closing the wealth gap, increasing equity, and expanding economic inclusion. Projects include new or expanded outreach efforts, such as developing partnerships with other organizations to assist the needs of low wealth persons and households; new or expanded financial education programs, such as providing small business or workforce training for minorities interested in starting and growing a business; or new or expanded financial products or services, such as developing and implementing a new product or program tailored to underserved and minority groups, like a first-time homeowner program.

The NCUA said it will accept applications beginning May 3, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. ET; applications must be submitted no later than June 26, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET. It said late applications will not be considered.

Community Development Revolving Loan Fund Access for Credit Unions (Federal Register notice)