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Newsletter Archive

05/16/2019 - Winning the Money Game

Winning the Money Game
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As we work towards our grand opening this summer, we want you to know who we are. This blog series will highlight how Village Staff view the work they do. 

Getting Played: The Game Big Banks Play with our Lives

At Village we make it our business to support our members as they navigate through a difficult economy. We live in a capitalistic world, even as cooperators we must learn how to thrive in an economy designed to be extractive and predatory. Economics is at the intersection of every area of our lives but for most corporations, economics is a game with the goal of making profit, often, by any means necessary. We collectively need to divest from the methods of profit making that require building an empire by exclusion and evolve towards building economic systems for and buy us. 
Flipping the Script
We consider ourselves coaches instead of “Tellers” or “Customer Representatives” and our "customers" are member-owners and champions in their own right. We understand so many peoples lives are played with by big banks who could care less what damage they’ve done in our communities. Its time we take our power back. We are here to learn with our Members until we all become Champions in the sport of economics. With our team and a coach behind us, we believe we can learn to play and win the money game together. 

So lets win,
Me'Lea Connelly 
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Upcoming Events 


Ambassador Orientation
Saturday, May 25th 
10:00 - 11:30am

An Ambassador is someone who aids Village Financial Cooperative's commitment to Black Liberation through Cooperative Renaissance extending their time and expertise to empower Black communities.

Help bring Minnesota's ONLY Community Development Credit Union to fruition. Come learn about Village Financial Cooperative's Theory of Change towards creating a cooperative economy, activate your base, and learn to utilize your personal skills for Black Economic Liberation to work towards co-creating Minnesota's only Community Development Credit Union.

Light snacks will be provided.
Juneteenth Member Update 
Thursday, June 13th
5:30 - 8:00pm

Black folks who crossed the Middle Passage in America fought vigorously for their freedom and that fire to be liberated, both socially and economically, continues to burn. Join us for a kick-back to commemorate Juneteenth.

In 2019 alone Village Financial Cooperative has made headway in securing a physical location for the credit union, gained important partnerships, and held a number of important conversations on what building a Black cooperative economics system in the Twin Cities means. Now we’d like to celebrate these accomplishments and what’s to come with our members. So enjoy a good time with us, hear some exciting news about where we’re headed, and begin the festivities of Freedom Day with us.

DJ, activities, performances, family friendly, etc.

RSVP by Sunday, June 2nd so we have an accurate count for food
Igniting the Black Cooperative Economic Renaissance in Minnesota
We want your opinion
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Thank you so much for attending last weekends symposium. We're very fortunate to have worked in community with you as we build towards a cooperative economy centered on Black liberation.
We're running a survey and would love your input. Please let us know what you think below. Thanks for participating!

Here are some friendly next steps you can take to get more plugged in:

See ya soon,
The Village Team

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Igniting the Black Economic Renaissance in Minnesota

04/30/2019 - Your April Project Update

Your April Project Update
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Moving Ahead in Financial Tecnology

This month we announced our new partnership with Square, Inc. and the City of Minneapolis. In this partnership, Square promised to provide financial literacy programming to the Northside of Minneapolis along with us. This includes providing education on financial management, access to capital, and tools entrepreneurs can use to help grow their businesses. Square will also be donating point-of-sale hardware for our physical location once we open to help bring modern and innovative technology to the community.

This partnership marks an exciting moment in our city’s history where community development finance, city government, and financial technology meet to accomplish tangible and renascent transformation for Black Liberation. While big banks have feared the impending shift toward financial technology, it is that crucial marginalized communities like ours, that have been most harmed by the economic crisis, are at the forefront of shaping equitable products and practices of the fintech community. As a Black-led financial institution, this opportunity places our community at the bleeding edge of the future of finance to ensure we are not at its mercy. We are thankful to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Shauen Pearce, Square, and our community for supporting our vision and joining us on this journey.
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Wrap Up: Black Economic Empowerment Symposium

A special thank you goes out to all the attendees who were able to join us this weekend for the symposium. When we were imagining this event, we wanted to make sure it was an intergenerational space where people were cared for.  We wanted our guests left feeling that they could identity with VFC's theory of change, see fintech as a tool to address access to capital, and of course, that we as a financial institution are dedicated and rooted to Black liberation. 

Village is intentionally different than your traditional financial institution and we believe our events should reflect that. For us, the intention of the space is just as important as the content. When it comes to any event we host we want to make sure the programming and content has people feeling more knowledgeable with a new sense of agency and empowerment. We hope we left that energy in our guests this weekend. 
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Member Spotlight: Ryan Stopera

We Asked: What excites you most about banking with Village Financial Cooperative?

"I bank with Village because I want to support a Black led organization who is building a pathway towards liberation by radically transforming capitalism through ancient African traditions. In West Africa and the Caribbean an ancient version of cooperative economics called “susu” has provided access to wealth that too many have been left out of due to colonization and imperialism. Until Black folks get reparations they deserve, Village will move us towards financial freedom, and until our Black brothers and sisters are free, none of us are free."
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Financial Feature 

Black first-generation wealth builders need to put on their own financial ‘oxygen masks’ first

First-generation African-American wealth builders often feel an understandable  — and potentially costly — sense of responsibility to their families and the wider black community.

Ending the Secrecy of the Student Debt Crisis

Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can’t pay their bills.

Upcoming Events

45th Annual MayDay Celebration
Sunday, May 5th 
12pm Parade, Ceremony, and Festival

Every spring, the MayDay Parade explodes onto Bloomington Avenue! We own the street for the day, dancing and playing instruments with fiery verve. We tell our story, section by section, each designed musically and visually by MayDay staff artists as a walking theatrical performance. The Join In Section follows, where community groups proclaim their names and causes. All together, 2000 participants march, boogie or roll down Bloomington every year!

Meanwhile, tens of thousands more line the streets, enjoying the spectacle and each other. People are everywhere - on rooftops and on lawns, toting babies in backpacks and toddlers in wagons, or sitting knee to knee along on the curbs. Everybody greets neighbors from near and far with a "Happy MayDay!!" The city feels intimate, overflowing with goodwill and spring fever.

Our team will be apart of the parade in a Village shirt so come say hi! 

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Igniting the Black Cooperative Economic Renaissance in Minnesota

Financial Health and Wealth Building in a Capitalist Prison

Financial Health and Wealth Building in a Capitalist Prison
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As we work towards our grand opening this summer, we want you to know who we are. This blog series will highlight how Village Staff view the work they do. 

Financial Health and Wealth Building in a Capitalist Prison

Cooperatives aren’t communes that isolate themselves from the rest of society. As a cooperative concerned with building Black wealth, it requires participation and engagement with the environment we live within. And unfortunately, this society is indoctrinated to capitalism which manifests itself through the exploitation of Black folks, Indigenous peoples, and those at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. If the axis of capitalism is fed by the nature of exploitation then we’re shifting our relationship to money to one fed by social and economic justice. That’s anti-capitalism. 

We’re creating a financial institution that supports Black existence and financial health and well-being. We’re replacing the exploitation of traditional  financial institutions with one that seeks to rejuvenate Black, Indigenous, and low-income neighborhoods with the wealth robbed from them. 

3 Ways We’re Staying True to a Village Anti-capitalist Spirit Through Cooperative Economics 


  • Decentralized economic participation 
  • Divesting from exploitative banking practices
  • Communal ownership 

Just as Village is a member-owned financial organization, our internal structure attempts to reflect decentralized power. We’re a worker’s collective which means we operate without hierarchies and operate democratically. 

Moving Forward in Fintech


We’re leading financial innovation by forming partnerships with the financial technology (fintech) industry to make sure our community is being served with the best technological tools available. On April 18th, we’ll be announcing our partnership with the company we’ll be partnering with to make our vision possible at the State of the City address alongside the City of Minneapolis

We look forward to celebrating with you,
Maryama Dahir
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Igniting the Black Cooperative Economic Renaissance in Minnesota
Your March Project Update
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Keep an eye out on our Board Member nominations page going live this week! 

See ya soon,
The Village Team

Cap the Payday Loan Interest Rates

Last tuesday, Minnesota legislatures held a hearing for a bill that will put a cap to payday loan interest rates. Black residents in Minnesota are twice as likely to live within 2.5 miles of a payday lender. And there's a structuralized geographic mapping as to the reason why that is. 

Because of existing disparities that have reduced generational wealth in the Black community, when emergencies arise family and friends aren’t always an option- payday lenders are. The only other financial institution in North Minneapolis has historically pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in capital into the payday loan industry, including providing financing to Payday America, ACE Cash Express, and other payday lenders operating in Minnesota.

This is an industry built on taking advantage of people at their most vulnerable. Minnesotans can’t build up assets for future emergencies, once they are caught in the payday lending trap.

A $400 loan has over 200% APR (average) and borrowers can expect to pay back over $300 in interest and fees by the time the loan is fully paid back. 

We developed the New Day Loan in June 2018, a loan product for up to $500 at only 0-8% interest with up to six months to repay. Within 4 months we had lent out over 10 loans and had a 100% repayment rate. This is an alternative that works. But no matter how powerful our combined efforts are, we are no match for the insatiable greed of the predatory lending industry. Without legal protections for Minnesotan families, Exodus Lending and Village Financial Cooperatives New Day Loan are only bandaids on bullet wounds. 
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This Week's Member Spotlight: Tony Williams!

We Asked: What excites you most about Village Financial Cooperative?

As an organizer and activist working to oppose white supremacy and other systems of domination, I've come to realize we can't just reform our way out of oppression. Megabanks and other institutions grounded in a profit motive will never value our humanity more than our dollar, no matter what policy changes or public relations campaigns they advance. If we want to "vote with our dollar," as the saying goes, we need to develop and invest in infrastructure built from the ground up that prioritize our lived experiences ahead of our account balance. That's why I'm excited to be moving my money away from a bank built on greed, foreclosures, and oil money to Village Financial Cooperative.
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Financial Feature 

Question & Ansah:Tips to Making it as a Broke Millennial

These days, adulting makes it a lot harder to get the girls together so the experiences happen less and cost a little more. Here are a few of the tips to making your money work for you.

'Astronomical and unaffordable': Payday loans get low-cost competition

Research indicates that 4 in 10 American adults don't have the money to pay for a sudden, unexpected expense of just several hundred dollars...The solution is often a payday loan. That's an expensive way to borrow money, because annual interest rates can reach several hundred percent. But some organizations are trying to help people avoid payday lenders and borrow money more cheaply.

Upcoming Events

Nexus Community Partners: Food Justice and Sovereignty
Thursday, March 7th 
5:30 - 8:00 pm

The Twin Cities BCLI is proud to partner up with Hope Community and The Land Stewardship Project on this Issue Series about food justice and food sovereignty. Food is an essential part of our daily lives and connects us in so many ways but how many of us think about how things end up on our plates? How do we think about access and the impact of all of our food, especially locally grown food in our lives? How is connected to history and the broader environmental and economic ecosystem? What are policy solutions and ideas that could address and mediate these efforts? Come hear stories and models of a local communities addressing these issues.

5:30 - 6 PM Food and Networking
6-8 PM Program

Zoe Holloman, Good Food Purchasing Twin Cities Coalition
Sammie Ardito Rivera, Sin Fronteras Farm & Food

Parking and Directions
UROC is on Plymouth Ave by Penn Ave. Along Plymouth, the street is serviced by Metro Transit bus numbers 7 and 32. Along Penn Ave, the street is serviced by Metro Transit bus route 19. There is a parking lot in front of the building, but there is also street parking.

We are in room 105 in UROC. Room 105 is on the first floor, and the main front doors have electric push door openers.
Community Ownership & Wealth Building Symposium
Tuesday, March 19th 
8:30 am - 12:00 pm

We know that residents have not always benefited from increased neighborhood investment or development. Especially recently, rising costs have left many of the most vulnerable in our communities at risk of being displaced and cut off from sharing in new growth, further exacerbating income and wealth inequality. Now, more than ever, we believe it is critical to implement strategies rooted in principles of “community ownership” to stabilize neighborhoods, reduce displacement and ensure residents at a range of socioeconomic levels benefit from new investment.

Join us on Tuesday, March 19th for a morning of activating tools and strategies that will catalyze generative economies and economic opportunity. We will explore this topic through expert speakers, research presentations, and community case studies.


Steve Dubb, Senior Editor, The Nonprofit Quarterly
David Greenberg, Director of Research and Evaluation, LISC
Me'Lea Connelly, Director of Development, Village Financial
Enrique Garcia, Owner, La Loma
Roberto de la Riva Rojas, Co-Director, Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia (United Renters for Justice)

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Igniting the Black Cooperative Economic Renaissance in Minnesota