Case Study: JetStream FCU

JetStream FCU Leverages $3.3M in CDFI Grants to Make $38M+ in Loans

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Jeanne Kucey, JetStream CEO

JetStream Federal Credit Union wanted to reach out to more of its low-income members with products and services that fit their needs. To take on the additional risk, the credit union applied for a CDFI grant. CEO Jeanne Kucey explains how the credit union obtained and leveraged the grants it received to provide more services to more of its members, unlocking the potential in its communities, with guidance from Credit Union Strategic Planning.

 

JetStream Federal Credit Union was founded in 1947 in Miami Falls, Fla., to serve the Miami FAA employees and their families. Today, JetStream’s mission is very different, and the membership had changed significantly by 2009, when the current CEO of JetStream, Jeanne Kucey, stepped in.

 

In 2011, the NCUA performed a study based on zip codes and discovered that 75% of JetStream’s members qualified as low-income. Kucey realized that JetStream needed more resources in order to expand its products and services. She also wanted to lend deeper in the credit score spectrum.

 

That’s when JetStream turned to CU Strategic Planning upon receiving the referral from another credit union CEO.

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The Key to Unlocking Opportunities

Kucey first partnered with CU Strategic Planning to seek CDFI funding to expand JetStream’s auto lending program. She explained that the local area does not have good public transportation, making it necessary for much of JetStream’s membership to have a car to drive to work. Many of its potential members were low-income or had minimal, poor or no credit history. JetStream won the CDFI grant and was able to make more car loans to hard-working people who needed them most. Eventually, JetStream expanded into small business lending after getting many requests for these types of loans from members who were not able to obtain capital loans from banks.

 

JetStream also has a unique field of membership. The credit union serves not only Miami-Dade county, but it also has members who live in Puerto Rico from an NCUA-orchestrated merger. Kucey said it’s definitely challenging being a a credit union with 1000 miles of ocean in between markets, and the COVID-19 restrictions have made it more challenging to visit the territory, which she and her team had done regularly prior to the pandemic, to more directly address member needs. Currently, Puerto Rico comprises about 20% of JetStream’s membership, and the credit union continues to see a big opportunity to help people there.

 

Many of JetStream’s branches are in the three counties near the San Juan airport, and JetStream was able to help those areas get back to normal following 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Using CDFI grants earned after the devastation, the credit union was able to replace items insurance didn’t cover such as air conditioning units, furniture and appliances. Kucey also noted the mass exodus from Puerto Rico, and that JetStream is doing what they can to improve the economy there so people can stay on the island for jobs. At the same time, the credit union helped others who did decide to leave for Miami-Dade County to resettle with the help of CDFI grant funds.

 

Revitalizing the Homefront

After receiving CDFI grants for their auto lending and small business loan programs, the applications from JetStream have not stopped. Their most recent application is for a solar energy and home rehab grant to help individuals without equity in their home and those with challenged credit make repairs and upgrades.

 

Housing stock is very old in Miami-Dade county, Kucey explained, and many homes have roofing problems, mold or need new air conditioning units. While JetStream does of lot of home equity lending, the credit union found many people didn’t meet the parameters of their standard underwriting.

 

“If we get a grant to help pump up the allowance for loan loss, we can take some risk with these people and not put the credit union’s financial standing in peril,” Kucey said.

 

True Partnership

Kucey has advice for credit unions considering beginning or expanding their community development presence.

 

“If you have a lot of low-income people who aren’t being served by others, and you need to expand your resources so that you’re able to help more people, I really think it’s not just the best way to go, but the only way to go,” Kucey said, referring to credit unions’ people-helping-people philosophy.

 

According to Kucey, the biggest selling point for CU Strategic Planning is that they understand the process. The team members are highly qualified individuals, and it feels like they are invested in the success of your credit union. She said her team views CU Strategic Planning as an extension of JetStream’s team and a big part of their operation. The results have also been tremendous for the credit union, earning more than $3 million in grants, helping the credit union realize its goals and assist its low-income and minority members.

Timeline

2010: JetStream FCU partners with CU Strategic Planning

2011: JetStream FCU receives $100,000 CDFI Grant as an emerging CDFI for assistance in collecting the required data for CDFI Certification 

2012: JetStream FCU achieves CDFI Certification

2014: JetStream FCU leverages a Financial Assistance Award of $1,209,000 to establish a business lending program for South Floridians in partnership with the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

2017:  JetStream FCU earns $776,500 for its Resettlement Loan program, which continues to provide $20M in consumer and microenterprise loans to low-income members migrating to Miami-Dade County from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

 

2018:  JetStream FCU awarded $1,250,000 for its Whole Again loan program, which still provides $17M in consumer loans to replace consumer goods and vehicles destroyed by Hurricane Maria. 

 

2021: JetStream FCU applies for another grant, still under review, focusing on financing solar energy and home rehabilitation for individuals without equity in their home or those with challenged credit.

 

Total CDFI Grants Received in partnership with CU Strategic Planning: $3,335,500