Illinois Credit Union Foundation
Financial Independence & Revitalization Effort (FIRE) Program
The purpose of Financial Independence & Revitalization Effort (FIRE) Program is to provide assistance to credit unions to expand their ability to build and maintain viable communities by providing credit and financial services to residents and businesses in low-income and underserved areas of Illinois. Financial assistance is available from the ICU Foundation to established credit unions that are interested in creating and implementing financial service programs in low-income and underserved areas of Illinois. The goal of the FIRE Program is to enhance membership services for credit unions located in economically disadvantage areas.
Grants of up to $15,000 are available to credit unions to provide a variety of membership programs, including but not limited to: offering financial literacy programs, installing an ATM, establishing a branch or satellite office, expanding services in low-income and underserved areas, education programs, computer equipment and software, developing bilingual programs, implementing an IDA program, assisting with mortgage programs, etc. Funds provided for these grants are restricted to use in disadvantaged and underserved areas.
To be considered for a FIRE Project grant, a credit union must complete an application form and submit supporting materials detailing how the funds will be used and the anticipated impact on the community. Grant recipients will be required to submit annual project updates.
- Be a credit union chartered and headquartered in Illinois;
- Be at least five years old;
- Be an affiliate of the Illinois Credit Union League;
- Have a CAMEL 2 or better rating;
- Agree to develop and implement a financial service program for use by people living in low income or underserved communities; and
- Use the funds to make an economic impact within the community where none or little currently exist.
Grant recipients will be required to submit an annual progress report detailing the use of the funds. If funds are used for purchases, invoices and receipts must be submitted. Upon completion of the project, the credit union must submit a final report detailing the impact the project had on the community and the membership. Credit unions must agree to continue project for a minimum of two (2) years.
Applicants must be received by March 31, July 31 or October 31 for review.
The FIRE Program application form is available on the League's website. For questions, contact Melanie Murphy at 800-942-7124 or via email.