2020 CUES Emerging Leader Project: Reducing Linguistic Barriers

hablamos español

5 minutes

The advice of last year’s winner to those considering the 2021 program? Apply now!

CUES is so pleased to have Lindsey Walker, CMM, as its first-ever CUES Emerging Leader. Executive assistant at Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, Tampa, Florida, Walker kindly took the time to answer some questions about her winning Hispanic outreach project as well as her experience with the CUES Emerge program overall.

Q: What was the goal of your project for the CUES Emerge challenge?

The goal of the Hispanic Outreach Program, Reducing Linguistics Barriers, is to have membership applications, loan documents, our website and marketing material translated into Spanish. These translations are critical for the credit union to further serve and reach the growing Hispanic population, many of whom are underserved and unbanked. 

Q: Would you describe the program’s impact on Louisa, who was featured prominently in your project presentation?

Louisa is a representation of past membership encounters. Often, when it comes time for important documents to be signed or reviewed, families bring their younger children, grandchildren, and/or a family friend to the credit union to translate important financial documents. By reducing the language barrier between the member and the credit union, we can build trust and loyalty with the Hispanic communities and provide them with the services they need and want. Today, when members of the Spanish speaking community visit Tampa Bay FCU, they no longer need to have someone accompany them to translate documents.  

Q: Why is having a program that reduces linguistic barriers important to Tampa Bay FCU?

In our region alone, 24.3% of the unbanked and underbanked population rely on payday lenders like pawn shops and check cashers. These types of organizations lack some of the consumer protection focus of traditional financial institutions—and especially of credit unions. They prey on members of minority groups who lack access to mainstream financial products. It can be as simple as consumers not knowing they can become a member of a credit union or that we will accept their identification. Since 2015, our credit union has been changing the narrative and ensuring that our Hispanic Communities know that we are here to serve them. It is important to listen to our membership base and provide them with the services and products they need and want.

Q: How does this program dovetail with Tampa Bay FCU’s mission?

Tampa Bay FCU has three top strategic initiatives. One of them is creating opportunities to serve the Hispanic market. Deploying products and services that serve this demographic allows the credit union to do just that.

Q: What documents/materials were translated to Spanish as part of the program?

  • Loan documents including:
  • Member Application 
  • Subsequent Action Form
  • Advance Receipt of Truth in Lending Statement
  • Notice to Guarantee/Co-Signer Application and Agreement
  • Account Opening Truth in Lending Statement 
  • Adverse Action Form
  • Non-Borrower Security Agreement
  • Risk-Based Pricing Notice
  • Consumer Lending Plan
  • Our main website
  • Our financial literacy workshop workbook and materials
  • Four marketing brochures that can be used for educational purposes with members at the credit union and/or at community workshops 

Q: How were the translations done? How did you ensure they would work for all the Spanish speakers your credit union serves?

The credit union partnered with a third-party translation vendor that has previously worked with us on Spanish marketing campaigns. As each document was completed, we had employees who speak various dialects of Spanish review each draft to ensure the intent, style, tone and context remained consistent with the original messaging.  

Q: How was the project funded?

The project was funded through the National Credit Union Administration’s underserved outreach grant funding program, which is available to community development financial institutions. Each year in Q2 NCUA issues a notice of opportunity announcement detailing the requirements for applying. Tampa Bay Federal took advantage of this opportunity by submitting a business proposal to bridge the linguistic barriers between our Hispanic community and the credit union. 

Q: What are your projected returns on the program?

Tampa Bay FCU has approximately $359 million in assets and 32,800 members. We currently have approximately 8,200 Hispanic members and anticipate our Hispanic membership will increase 1% annually over the next five years. The projected growth based on serving Spanish-speaking people better is more than 1,900 new members over the next five years. In other words, this is almost 2,000 more people that Tampa Bay FCU will be able to help. 

In addition, we anticipate our organization’s total loans will increase by $128 million over the next five years; of that, we anticipate deploying a minimum of $6.4 million to our Hispanic communities. 

Q: What are some things Tampa Bay FCU does to complement the translation project in service to Hispanic members?

  • For membership and loans, Tampa Bay FCU accepts alternative identification types, such as Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers.
  • Over 74% of our front-line, member-facing staff are bilingual.
  • Branches are strategically built in Hispanic communities. We facilitate financial literacy classes in Spanish and have bilingual branch leaders who have undergone financial education certification courses to ensure we are adding value to our members.  

Q: How was participating in the CUES Emerge program beneficial to your professional development?

I am a scholar at heart and thrive on learning. In my role, educational opportunities are few and far between, however, admission to the CUES Emerge program is free and open to all non-CEOs. I am so thankful that I came across the email in February 2020 introducing the program. Since then, I have had the opportunity to learn from so many! Leaders in the field, masterminds in the industry and many of my peers. While this was something that displaced me and took me outside my comfort zone, it was an experience that carved pathways for my future. I look forward to furthering my development with the CUES educational prize package that came along with the title of 2020 CUES Emerging Leader.

Q: What advice would you give to people considering applying for the 2021 program? 

Apply! As I mentioned before, the program is open to all non-CEOs. Most of the time, all of the limiting factors are in our heads. The program is a great mix of online learning, peer collaboration and exciting competition that I think appeals to anyone wanting to challenge themselves to be a better leader in the industry. There is absolutely no reason to doubt one’s ability. Do not wait. Do not put it off. Just do it. You owe it to yourself, your organization and your community to continue growing as a leader. 

Applications Are Due by 8 p.m. on Feb. 10

CUES Emerge is an emerging leader program that combines online learning, peer collaboration and an exciting competition component.
Apply today!
CUES Learning Portal

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