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40 Years of Service with Members and Partners

In 1980, the Center for Community Self-Help began—not as a credit union, 1980 timelinebut as a small venture to help low-wage workers displaced from textile jobs. Our founders, Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright, quickly realized that workers couldn’t get far without affordable financing. Thus, they started a different kind of cooperative: Self-Help Credit Union.

Forty years later, we celebrate an eventful journey with our members and partners as Self-Help Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, Self-Help Ventures Fund and the Center for Responsible Lending. We are immensely grateful to all who have joined us to build on the strengths of the communities we serve by expanding economic opportunities.


Two Credit Unions, Many Legacies

Through mergers with other credit unions and financial institutions, we have been able to extend our reach and help preserve affordable financial services in areas where the need is high. As we celebrate our anniversary, we are mindful that many of our merged partners started long before Self-Help—one nearly a century earlier.

Second Federal Bank on the South Side of Chicago

The oldest member of the Self-Help family was formerly Second Federal Bank on the South Side of Chicago. Second Federal began serving immigrants in 1882.

As an ongoing project, we are documenting the history of the credit unions that during the past two decades have joined the Self-Help family. These short video histories include interviews with people who helped start these credit unions to serve groups such as Black farmers and teachers, textile workers and migrant farmworkers.


See a complete listing of all of the financial institutions we have merged with here.