Janet L. Yellen, Federal Reserve Bank Chair Tours CONNECT - A Financial Opportunity Center

Chelsea, Mass. (October 20, 2014) – CONNECT welcomed Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen to Chelsea by kicking off a tour of the area’s most innovative financial opportunity centers. Metro Credit Union, a managing partner of CONNECT, participated in conversations related to economic instability, housing, and financial and educational opportunities.

Chair Yellen, who came to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for the conference on Inequality of Economic Opportunity in the United States, delivered the key note address on Friday morning. As part of her focus at the conference, Yellen came to learn about CONNECT’s approach to boosting financial stability and employment.

CONNECT, a partnership of six organizations - Bunker Hill Community College, Career Source, Centro Latino, Metro Credit Union, Metropolitan BostonHousing Partnership, and The Neighborhood Developers - seeks to increase long term financial stability for area residents by providing job training and language education, as well as financial coaching and peer supports. CONNECT’s collaborative approach increases efficiency and provides increased positive outcomes for over 4,000 clients annually.

Following an initial tour of the CONNECT and TND facility, Chair Yellen sat down with CONNECT Partners, City Manager Jay Ash, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Eric Rosengren, and interim NeighborWorks America Director Chuck Wehrwein, to discuss collaborative approaches to economic development on both an individual and community level.

Later, Chair Yellen took the opportunity to sit in on a CONNECT class followed by a Success Team to hear clients personal stories of overcoming financial hardship with the help of CONNECT. The group included recent immigrants, veterans, and single parents, and all had stories of their personal growth and success. One of the questions on the forefront of Yellen’s mind was clients’ difficulty finding employment. While all had stories of being laid-off and long bouts of unemployment, their message was clear: without the help of CONNECT, they would not be where they are today!

TND Executive Director Ann Houston explained that a cornerstone of what makes CONNECT and the City of Chelsea successful is the foundation of safe, clean and affordable housing. “We don’t just build affordable housing, we build communities that people want to live in,” Houston said.

Metro Credit Union’s President and CEO Robert Cashman emphasized the importance of establishing a banking relationship as a stepping stone to financial and economic stability. “Our partnership with CONNECT allows us to assist residents in becoming banked versus utilizing alternative financial providers.” Cashman added, “Helping families build assets and improve upon or establish credit is a primary goal,”

As a founding partner of CONNECT, Metro provides financial coaching, debt management, credit repair assistance, and tax preparation. Additionally, Metro offers financial products and services designed for CONNECT clientele and VITA support. One of Metro’s goals is to provide the unbanked or underbanked with the knowledge and resources needed to open their own bank account as opposed to utilizing check-cashing services and payday lenders.

About Metro Credit Union
Metro Credit Union is the largest state-chartered credit union in Massachusetts with over $1.3 billion in assets, and serves more than 170,000 members. It is a growing, federally insured financial institution and a leading provider of a full range of financial services to anyone living or working in Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Plymouth, Barnstable or Worcester counties in Eastern Massachusetts, as well as Massachusetts state employees and retirees throughout the Commonwealth.

Founded in 1926, Metro Credit Union is a non-profit cooperative institution, owned by and operated for the people who use and benefit from its products and services. Metro uses superior customer service and technology to deliver a full range of financial products to consumers and businesses in eastern Massachusetts. Metro is well known for providing members with unlimited refunds of other banks’ ATM fees through its My Reward Checking account

Metro Credit Union has 15 branch offices conveniently located in Boston, Burlington, Chelsea, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Melrose, Newton, Peabody, Salem, and Tewksbury, and is also a leader in workplace banking, serving over 1,800 companies throughout the state.