Bridge the Gap Loan: An Alternative to Payday Lending

A Partnership Between Afena Federal Credit Union and the Community Foundation of Grant County

Bridge the Gap Loan: An Alternative to Payday Lending

Launching soon, is the Bridge the Gap Loan—a new alternative to payday lending in Grant County will provide financially vulnerable families with convenient, small-dollar, low-interest, flexible-term loans. This innovative hybrid loan program will provide families with immediate access to the cash they need to provide some much-needed financial stability—especially due to COVID-related financial strains—while also helping them build a savings account for future financial security. The alternative payday lending program is made possible through a unique partnership between Afena Federal Credit Union and the Community Foundation of Grant County.

The alternative payday lending program was designed to help financially under-resourced families in three ways: 1) By providing affordable financing to assist families in getting back on their feet once they return to work following the COVID-19 pandemic, 2) By helping financially under-resourced families build an emergency savings account, and 3) By helping income-vulnerable families improve their credit scores.

Using an impact investment strategy, the Community Foundation has agreed to invest $1,000,000 in the alternative payday lending program for the next  five-years. The Foundation’s commitment will be used as collateral for the loans, allowing Afena to provide payday alternative loans for as many individuals as possible until the five-year program timeline is completed in September 2025.

Participating in an impact investment like the alternative payday lending program has been on our radar for quite some time and in our strategic plan for nearly two years now.  So, it’s both exciting and timely that we are able to partner with Afena Federal Credit Union, our local Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), to help our most marginalized families recover from COVID-related financial pressures and plan for a more stable and thriving future.” said Dawn Brown, President/CEO of the Community Foundation.

“Impact investing is a strategy wherein foundations utilize a portion of their endowed investment portfolio with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social return alongside a financial return. Impact investments were created to provide capital to address social and/or environmental issues.  In the case of Grant County, poverty is a systemic social issue that the Foundation has been addressing in many ways since 2015.  Therefore, the addition of this impact investment will simply be another layer of support for our community that will greatly complement the annual grantmaking we do to bolster the important work being done by multiple local non-profit organizations.”

Afena will manage the alternative payday lending program and use their specific lending knowledge to develop the loan terms and under-writing criteria, as well as designate a certified loan officer as a program ambassador. This staff member will be primarily responsible for meeting families where they are, such as schools, workplaces, local nonprofits, etc., and removing barriers to accessing the program. The program will also include financial coaching for all loan recipients. As the loans are paid back, Afena will be able to re-invest the available funding to assist even more families in need.

It is the philosophy of Afena Federal Credit Union to work with our members to improve their financial health”, said Karen Madry, President/CEO of Afena. “In other words, our focus is not on making loans, but putting our members in a better financial position.”

Afena Federal Credit Union is Grant County’s only Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). CDFIs work to empower low-income and underserved people and communities to enter the financial mainstream. This certification is a designation given by the CDFI Fund of the U.S. Department of the Treasury to specialized organizations that provide financial services in low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing.

If you are interested in learning more about a Bridge the Gap Loan, visit or contact Afena Federal Credit Union at 765-664-8089 or the Community Foundation at 765-662-0065.

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