For Members Only Federal Credit Union in Chicago debuted this month as one of the few credit unions sponsored by a fraternity or sorority. Its goal is to foster the development of generational wealth for the Black women connected through Alpha Kappa Alpha.
The sorority itself was founded in January 1908 on the campus of Howard University, a historically Black institution in Washington D.C. Today, AKA has more than 335,000 African American female initiates in 12 counties and boasts notable alumni such as Maya Angelou, Katherine Goble Johnson and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Emma Hayes, who has been an active member of AKA for more than 25 years and is currently chief culture officer for the $51 billion-asset State Employees’ Credit Union in Raleigh, North Carolina, explained how the sorority was inspired by its lineage to launch its own financial institution.
“There’s a long history of disparity in Black communities [and] this is a way for the sorority to empower people who’ve been disadvantaged and give them confidence in their financial institution, knowing that it is owned and operated by people who share a common bond, who share common interests and who have a common history,” Hayes said. “The credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people’ is very kindred to the Alpha Kappa Alpha principle of helping each other.”
“We are delivering the most progressive and revolutionary economic initiative in this century. … As the first Black-owned, woman-led, sorority-based [and] 100% digital financial institution, we are poised to deliver innovative financial solutions that drive economic growth for our members, chapters, families and employees of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority,” Danette Anthony Reed, international president and chief executive of For Members Only, said in a Feb. 2 letter to AKA members.