As Minnesota's first federally-insured Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), University Bank (UNNB) strives to be "The leader in improving our urban community" by providing competitive financial returns with positive social impact. Through innovative programs like the Socially Responsible Deposit Fund and Houses to Homes, University Bank has made it their mission to provide loans in low-income communities and to make urban Saint Paul and Minneapolis a better place to live, work, and play.
University Bank provides a variety of services and products including, checking and savings accounts and consumer and commercial loans. In addition to these basic services, University Bank has developed a number of programs that focus on community development, mainly in the lending sectors of affordable housing and small businesses.
Houses to Homes: University Bank finances the renovation of homes in distressed communities that are then targeted to first-time buyers or low- to moderate-income homebuyers.
Socially Responsible Deposit Fund (SRDF): When opening any depository account, University Bank customers have the option to pool their account balances into the SRDF. SRDF deposits are then used to support affordable housing, small businesses, nonprofit organizations and community services.
Neighborhood Lending Partnership (NLP): University Bank utilizes a self directed city-wide guarantee pool to assist customers to purchase and rehabilitate residential or commercial real estate in Saint Paul. Through the NLP, University Bank fills the "gap" between what a customer has for a down payment versus what a bank requires to make the loan with a loan guarantee.
Although the Calvert Foundation's investment in University Bank is only 0.1% of their loan portfolio, it is leadership deposits like Calvert's that encourage others to deposit as well.
University Bank's clientele consists of low-to-moderate-income individuals living in urban areas, nonprofits, and minority-owned businesses of the Twin Cities. Over 30% of the Bank's customers have a household income at or below the area's median income and over 40% of the bank's customers are Southeast Asian. To best serve its diverse client base, the bank has a culture that echoes its diverse population. Over 20 percent of University Bank staff are Hmong or of Asian descent (including Assistant VP Khue Yang, an elder of his Hmong clan who leads cultural sensitivity training for all bank staff).
Since inception, UNNB has lent over $400 million to individuals and institutions throughout the Twin Cities. In 2007 alone, UNNB invested over $20 million in low- and moderate-income census tracts. In June 2004, the Community Investing Project, an initiative of the Social Investment Forum Foundation and Co-op America, singled out UNNB as one of 14 organizations that best exemplify the building of economic opportunity for African Americans and others through community investing. In April 2005, UNNB was featured on "The Winners Circle Hosted by Terry Bradshaw" highlighting the community development work that UNNB and its sister banks are doing in Twin Cities urban neighborhoods.
“It was the first place to offer Saturday morning Banking.” Sharon says.
But extended hours are not the only reason why the Paulsons have banked at University Bank for more than 40 years. The friendships they’ve developed with bank employees have also made them proud to be customers. In turn, the bank delights in calling these community leaders two of its most valued customers and advocates.
Once active in their former neighborhood block club, Larry and Sharon made it their charge to continue popular holiday traditions that brought families together. One year, Larry and Sharon took an neighbor on a tour of local homes decorated for the holidays, inspiring a new custom: an annual lights tour for local seniors and families.
To raise money for the holiday events, the Paulsons organize a garage sale each May. Generous donations from community members allow Sharon and Larry to sell much-needed items to local residents at low prices, while bringing in the funding for numerous neighborhood happenings. Full Story