A Culture of Caring: Board Statement on Diversity and Inclusion
As we look to the end of a very unique – and often difficult – year, Affinity Plus’s Board of Directors would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the calls for social change and equity that remains at the forefront of national dialogue.
Affinity Plus was created more than 90 years ago to bridge the gaps to financial resources for underserved groups and communities across Minnesota. With the philosophy of “people helping people,” we continue to grow that commitment to financial inclusion. And we’re committed to getting results. Following the death of George Floyd, Affinity Plus signed the “Credit Union DEI Collective Pledge,” whose mission is to bring forth social, economic, political and legal justice for combating oppression and systemic racism.
Affinity Plus’s Commitment
Diversity. Inclusion. Belonging. These are more than just words at Affinity Plus. They breathe life into the everyday actions that improve the lives of our employees, members and communities. Our commitment to care for people across race, gender, age, religion, identity and experience drives us forward every day. We meet each person, wherever they're at in life, with meaningful banking, exceptional experiences and trusted relationships. We seek to drive equity for all by seeking equality of opportunity, removing barriers and championing financial inclusion for critical resources. These ideals help us live out our values: Diversity sparks Adaptability. Inclusion powers Integrity. Belonging flows from Caring.
Affinity Plus leadership and employees have been hard at work listening, learning and making progress toward important diversity goals.
As a Financial Institution
With locations in the inner city, first-ring suburbs, and rural Minnesota, we’re promoting financial inclusion every day:
- Achieving a Low-Income Credit Union designation, allowing us more flexibility in products and regulations, for example offering loans to members with little credit history and opening accounts for students with no credit, including those coming to America for the first time
- Promoting low-to-moderate income financial programs
- Creating unique savings-building or credit-score building products, such as unsecured loans, certificate builder accounts and certificate secured loans with lower entry requirements
- Reduced fees: Affinity Plus has fewer fees than most financial institutions, and partners with members experiencing financial hardship to refund many fees
- Offering small business relief from COVID-19 and George Floyd unrest, including PPP and low-interest recovery loans. Affinity Plus has nearly 500 small business members in Minneapolis and St. Paul, many with diverse ownership.
- Making translation services available to members through our call center Increasing accessibility of website for visitors with disabilities
As an Employer
We strive to be the best place our employees have ever worked, and that means:
- Actively listening to employees, through diversity, inclusion and belonging events, as well as intentional exit interview questions
- Hiring bilingual and culturally diverse advisors
- Sponsoring diverse employees for H1-B visas
- Offering advancement opportunities, including a paid MBA program through Metropolitan State University
- Removing barriers for diverse candidates
- Sharing a gender transition guide for leaders and employees that has been used by other credit unions nationally
- Offering 8 hours extra community volunteer hours after George Floyd death
- Sponsoring extensive training for leadership, staff and Board of Directors
As a Community Member
As a pillar in the communities we serve, we seek to align with causes and needs that matter to our members, including:
- The Affinity Plus Foundation that provides scholarships, community grants and grants to teachers for new ideas/emerging needs
- Engaging members and employees to raise/donate more than $330,000 to address racial injustice, business rebuilds and basic needs following the death of George Floyd
- Partnership with Minnesota Computers for Schools and KARE 11 to host technology donation drives across the state, benefitting primarily low income and diverse families with more than 40,000 pounds of technology donated this past Fall
- Ongoing credit union support for two special charities: Special Olympics Minnesota and Second Harvest Heartland
- Sponsoring yearly Plus it Forward Day for employees to engage in community service in their communities throughout the state
- Highlighting those doing good by sponsoring KFAN’s “Overtime” show with Carly Zucker and KARE 11’s “Communities that KARE” segment
- Senior Leadership commitments: Serving in the community, for example: CEO Dave Larson, Vice Chair of Special Olympics Minnesota Board; Chief Talent Officer Julie Cosgrove, Ambassador on the MNCUN Global Women’s Leadership Network
Looking to the Future
Leadership and employees have been hard at work listening, learning and taking actions. We’ve created an ongoing leadership commitment to chart Affinity Plus’s future diversity and financial inclusion actions. We know we can do more to make Affinity Plus an agent of financial equity. Make your voice heard.
Member Story: Duane "Paul" Lundgren
We love our members here at Affinity Plus, and, we love celebrating them! Everyone has a story to tell, which is why we want to continue telling them. Get to know Duane “Paul” Lundgren, who has been a member for more than 15 years.
Duane “Paul” Lundgren is retired now. Well, semi-retired really considering he is active in many pursuits. Paul has kept a busy dance card, quite literally, as a ballroom dance student and instructor in addition to his voice talent work after a 34-year career with Metro Transit.
It’s clear to see Paul enjoys people, has an easygoing nature, is passionate about teaching and is open to new opportunities down unknown roads. While putting himself through broadcast school, he took a job right out of high school driving school bus for eight years before he joined Metro Transit.
“I got my broadcasting degree and FCC license, but knew a radio career would require moving around to various markets and working my way up,” said Paul. “I had kids and didn’t want to be away from them. I stuck with Metro Transit because I liked what I did and I was good at driving a bus.”
In fact, Paul was so good at driving a bus that he was one of the first mentors in the Metro Transit mentoring program and was selected as an instructor for other drivers. He even entered the International Bus Roadeo, a competition of driving skills, and had a perfect safety record – a feat less than 3% of bus and truck drivers achieve.
So, what does it take to be a great bus driver? Good driving skills are essential in addition to patience and good customer service skills. Perhaps most important is the need to not let stuff bother you. “There were times when customers would call you a name or riders would be inebriated. You had to have a hard shell to let the tough stuff bounce right off you.”
Fortunately, Paul had ballroom dancing as an outlet to shed any frustrations of the day. His passion for dancing started about 20 years ago when ladies at a club told him he had a good sense of rhythm and should join them at dance class. He took them up on the offer and literally stumbled into dancing. “I was a klutz when I started beginner classes. My head and feet weren’t talking with each other and I was really uncoordinated.”
Within a few months, Paul joined the intermediate classes and was hooked on ballroom dancing. After a while, Paul started teaching classes while he continued his own advanced dance lessons. “I teach beginner and intermediate classes, so if you want to appear on Dancing with the Stars, I’ll need to refer you to another instructor.”
Paul found teaching dancing was a fun part-time way to earn income during retirement. “I have just as much fun as my students and am a bit sad when the session is over. I love teaching people of all skill levels. When I started I had 17 left feet, so if a complete klutz like me can learn and become an instructor, anyone can learn to dance.”
In his spare time, Paul also pursues work for commercials and corporate videos through his voice talent business where he has narrated ads as well as health and training videos. “I would love to achieve the status of having such a recognizable voice like James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman.”
One place where they instantly know his voice? The Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union branch in Coon Rapids. “If I call the branch, they’re like, 'Hi, Paul, I knew it was you.' And whenever I walk into the branch, I feel like Norm from the TV show Cheers. They’ll call out my name, 'Hey, Paul.'”
Paul has been a member of Affinity Plus for more than 15 years. “Everyone with Affinity Plus has been wonderful and so helpful with my questions. I’ve had a home equity line of credit (HELOC) loan with them in the past and I recently talked with one of their financial advisors about purchasing a new vehicle as well as some home improvement projects. He let me know I was on the right path to minimize the amount I’d have to finance in order to stay on track with my retirement budget.”
Affinity Plus technology has also been there for Paul’s financial needs. “I love that I can set up and label a number of accounts according to how I want to save money – Christmas, car, escrow, house maintenance and more. It really helps me save for life’s planned and unplanned adventures.”
Affinity Plus CEO Dave Larson Makes List of Top Business Leaders
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union is pleased to announce that President and CEO, Dave Larson, was recently listed in the 2020 Minnesota 500 ranking of, “The Most Powerful Business Leaders in Minnesota.” This is his third time receiving this award.
The list, which is produced by Greenspring Media, celebrates the state’s leading business executives across an array of industries, from sports, to education, government to banking. Editors hand-selected this year’s top 500 Minnesota Executives.
Finalists for Minnesota 500 were selected following research and due diligence, considering criteria such as:
- The impact each executive has had/is having on their industry as a whole (both in current and prior roles);
- The success and impact the company itself has had/is having under his/her leadership;
- Special awards or accolades both in the executives’ professional and/or personal lives; and
- Participation in community/philanthropic endeavors, position on other boards, and the like.
In his seven years as CEO, Larson has transformed the culture and results for Affinity Plus by relentlessly focusing on the people it serves and the employees he leads. He challenges his leaders and employees to do more each day for the individuals and communities served by Affinity Plus, including building up the impact of the organization’s nonprofit Foundation. In six years, his mission-driven approach has generated strong growth and record assets for the state’s second largest credit union, attracting younger members while establishing intense loyalty.
Equipped with new high-tech core systems and digital footprint, Affinity Plus was able to mobilize 550+ employees to work from home in March, while almost seamlessly serving the changing needs of its 210,000 members. Affinity Plus led the way in closing its lobbies for COVID-19 safety, eliminating fees for impacted members, offering Recovery Loans for individuals and small businesses, and more.
Larson has become an influencer in the local credit union industry as well, including pioneering what has become CU Forward Day throughout state, with dozens of credit unions deploying its employees and resources to serve Minnesota communities each October. Since inception, 50% of credit unions across the state are participating in CU Forward Day. Larson is also proud to serve as Vice Chairman for Special Olympics Minnesota, an organization that’s near and dear to his heart.
In addition to the Minnesota 500, Affinity Plus has received a few other awards over the years. Forbes has ranked Affinity Plus as a Best-In-State Credit Union three years in a row. A 2018 and 2020 Star Tribune Top Workplaces survey also recognized Dave as the top leader among Minnesota’s large companies.
How-to Videos for Mobile Banking App & Online Banking
With Affinity Plus digital banking (the mobile banking app and online banking), you can do almost all your banking from anywhere, day or night. You can even deposit checks right from your phone. No more waiting at the drive thru, or finding deposit-taking ATMs.
Not sure yet how to use our digital banking tools? There are now 12 video tutorials on our website, and they’ll show you just how easy it is.
They cover practically everything you can do in digital banking:
- Add external accounts
- Add other members to your transfer-to list
- Bill Pay*
- Deposit checks (mobile-only feature)
- Make loan payments
- Register for digital banking
- Reset your password
- Transfer money
*The Bill Pay feature is available in both platforms. But currently, there's only a video showing how to use it in the mobile banking app.
Coins for a Cause Campaign Raises $85,000
It’s the season of giving back! At, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, we’ve been committed to helping the most vulnerable in our communities for years. Affinity Plus is pleased to announce that with the help of members, colleagues, and community members, more than $42,000 was raised for the Coins for a Cause initiative.
In partnership with FOX 9, Second Harvest Heartland and other Minnesota food banks, Affinity Plus helped raise money this holiday season to help provide meals to families experiencing hunger. Due to the pandemic, demand on local food banks has more than tripled, which means more Minnesota families are going without, compared to any time in recent history.
In addition, Affinity Plus first committed to matching donations up to $25,000. In a surprise turn of events, Affinity Plus decided to match the entire fundraising total, with an overall contribution of more than $85,000. The donation equals nearly 250,000 meals for Minnesotans in need. Wow!
“At Affinity Plus, we’re all about helping people achieve all they want in life, and we know that when families are fighting just to keep food on the table, they can’t focus on their bigger goals,” said Adam Layne, Senior Community Engagement Specialist, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union. “Right now the need for food in our community is skyrocketing. A little bit of change can go a long way when in the hands of local food banks, and we are so proud of everyone coming together to make a difference this holiday season.”
The initiative started on December 7 and ran through December 11 across participating branches throughout the state of Minnesota. On December 11, Affinity Plus also hosted a curbside collection event and rewarded the first 50 donors with Holiday Gift Bags from Affinity Plus and FOX 9. In just that one day alone, more than $26,000 was raised from Credit Union members and the community. Everyone who donated had an opportunity to enter into a drawing for a Minnesota resort getaway or a $100 gift card to Cub Foods.
Thank you to you, our loving member, for being so generous this holiday season. YOU are making a difference!