2017 Applicant: Jonathan LaBarge

Jonathan LaBarge is a 31-year-old Assistant Branch Manager at ORNL Federal Credit Union ($1.9B) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States.

Project Title
C3 Initiative

Short Pitch
An outreach project to make it easier for our non-English speaking members and community to learn English and improve their financial knowledge, while increasing our membership and involvement, and our relationships with this underserved demographic.

Synopsis
Oak Ridge and our neighboring larger city, Knoxville, are both culturally and ethnically diverse. Tennessee's past census numbers show a significant increase in the number of households that speak a language other than English. Five percent of just one of the 16 counties ORNL FCU serves speaks another language. We can only carry out half of our IGNITE service model with many of our members because of this language barrier. To bridge this gap, I have launched the C3 Initiative! 

C3 stands for Community, Culture, and Collaboration. It is a way for us to engage our international community that goes beyond just their banking needs. Starting out we will be offering a free English course once a week for an hour to an hour and a half. But we don't want to JUST be teaching English, we want to create financial freedom by giving our culturally diverse community the confidence needed to financially thrive. 

I am in the process of putting together a simple English curriculum for volunteers within our organization to utilize. As this initiative grows and evolves, we hope to collaborate with other credit unions in order to better engage the diverse communities we live in. It is a very budget friendly program that is not only necessary but is easily replicable. The C3 Initiative will grow our membership while at the same time allowing our employees to give back to our members and community. We don't want our communities to just live, we want them to thrive!

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