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Community and Social Impact Overview

Led by Filene Fellow Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen of the University of California San Diego, the Center of Excellence for Community Social Impact will measure and expand credit unions' social impact to help develop a strategic advantage in the communities they serve and become a catalyst for positive community transformation. Original and applied research from the Center will equip credit unions with actionable insights and resources needed to improve community well-being.


Since their inception, credit unions have been committed to making a social impact through providing exceptional financial products to their members. Today, credit unions are striving to play a more active role in their communities and are already investing large sums of time and money in communities. In a recent study of credit union giving, Filene found that credit unions have donated $115.6 million and volunteered 540,000 hours in 2018. While these are significant investments, these metrics alone are not an adequate measure of social impact. Credit unions want to know if their investments are tackling the root causes of poverty, inequality, and the racial wealth gap. Furthermore, they are interested in better ways to track and measure the social impact of their investments and understanding the effective strategies to facilitate systems change.

Research conducted for this Center will provide credit unions with insights to address the following questions:

  1. What are the root causes of racial and economic inequality, and what forms of human, social, and financial capital are needed to build up vulnerable communities? 
  2. What innovative community social impact practices can be scaled up by credit unions?
  3. In order to prioritize strategies with the greatest social impact, what is the best approach to effectively track, measure, and evaluate outcomes?
  4. Which financial services and philanthropic initiatives best address institutional and systemic inequality?

Learn about Dr. Nguyen's vision and the answers to more questions by downloading the overview.

Filene's Center for Community Social Impact is generously funded by:

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