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Employer-Sponsored Small-Dollar Loans

To express your interest in further testing or implementation of Employee-Sponsored Small-Dollar loans, complete this short form.

Developed by NorthCountry Federal Credit Union, this small dollar loan program is offered to employees of the Select Employer Groups (SEGs) partnered with credit unions. Loan payments are auto-deducted from direct deposited paychecks. Once the loan is paid, employees may continue making payments into savings accounts.

Contact Corlinda Wooden, project manager, to learn more or watch the Employer-Sponsored Small-Dollar Loans recorded webinar.

Filene and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with funding from the National Credit Union Foundation and the Ford Foundation, conducted a colloquium in December 2001 looking at how the financial problems of employees cause untold hardship monetarily, emotionally and physically. Our "Financial Stress and Workplace Performance: Developing Employer-Credit Union Partnerships" report captures these insights and offers tips for credit unions in partnering with employers to help their employees attain financial health.

Read the report here.

Final Results

During the 14-month incubator-reporting period (with the exception of the originating credit union who reported data for twenty months), the program resulted in 13 credit unions that partnered with 48 employers generating 1,042 loans with over $1.2M in loan volume and over $42K in savings balances. The average loan per borrower was $1,173 and the average savings was $152. Also, the average age of the borrowers was 39 years old with an average income of $36,474 and an average credit score of 554.

Georgia Heritage FCU – Robby Glore – VP of Operations:

“We were approached by Robyn Wainner from Step Up Savannah and Richard Reeve from CCCS to partner with them to help fight poverty in the Savannah, GA area.  They were looking for a financial partner to help them with this monumental task.  They had already been turned down by banks and even another credit union.  Wow, what a challenge!  All kinds of questions popped up in my mind for such a task.  Why should we jump on this bandwagon?  How can our little credit union possibly help?  Can we really make a difference in the poverty level of Savannah? What can we provide that would not risk the assets of the credit union?  And even though those questions were in the back of my head, one thing rang true as I listened to Robyn and Richard.  THIS IS WHAT CREDIT UNIONS DO! 

We launched our program in the last week of May and many questions were answered.  We saw people who really needed to get away from the grips of the title pawn lenders, pay past due mortgages, catch up utility bills, and others who needed to aid family members.  Here we are just 4 months into the program and we have been able to help over 100 people who would have been at the mercy of finance companies and title pawn lenders.  The loan officer that I have in charge of this program, Kelly, talks about how blessed she is to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.  These new members to the credit union have tears running down their face when they find out that we can help them.  And Kelly has gotten quite a few hugs as well!

My hope is that more employers will understand the financial stress that some of their employees are under and realize the productivity that is lost through the stress of their situations.  Or the possible turnover in staff that financial stress can cause which creates more expense for the employer for hiring and training new personnel.

Making a positive impact on poverty is not an overnight resolution.  It is a journey.  I like to think that we have just made our first few steps on this journey.  And yes, be it ever so small right now, we are making a difference!”

Employee Testimonies:

 “I could breathe a little easier and also liked that it helps build credit.”
 “Extraordinary; it was a Godsend that helped me make 2 goals: to get the vehicle repaired & the payday loan paid off.”
 “It helped with my emergency at a low cost and was very simple to go through the application process. It saved me a lot of time and hassle.”


Georgia Heritage Federal Credit Union has received a highly coveted industry award for their ESSDL program (which they call Life Line): The 2015 Lending Excellence Award from the CUNA Lending Council (CUNA, or the Credit Union National Association, is the industry’s largest national trade organization).

For more details and testimonials please see the Final Summary Report found in the Resources section.

What's Next

In April 2016 the Employer Sponsored Small Dollar Loan (ESSDL) program launched a continued research effort. In partnership with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation, Filene Research Institute, and six local credit unions launched a two-year research project to assess the long-term impact of an ESSDL product designed to help employees avoid the high cost of payday lenders, establish or repair credit, and begin to save.

In conjunction with this ongoing research, the parties will work to create a feasibility study and an implementation guide to help financial institutions launch and evaluate the ESSDL product and to help nonprofit organizations partner with their local financial institution to offer the loan as part of a community-based financial stability program. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life.

For details about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit