Credit unions are built on the philosophy of people helping people and are grounded by cooperative principles like demonstrating concern for community. In a year when so many have struggled for their lives and livelihoods, the values that guide credit unions have never been more important, or more needed. Thanks to the generosity of Royal Credit Union Members, team members, and others in the communities we serve, Royal was able to positively impact and restore hope to a struggling neighborhood in Minnesota.
In July, Royal led an effort to raise funds for the Frogtown & Rondo Community Business Recovery Fund. The fund was created to provide financial assistance to local businesses, many owned by people of color, which experienced damage during unrest that occurred this summer in the area. Three community groups worked together to manage the fund—Summit-University Planning Council, Frogtown Neighborhood Association, and Victoria Theater Arts Center. Following dozens of individual contributions and a gift from the credit union, Royal leaders recently delivered a $34,000 donation to the fund.
“Royal Credit Union was inspired by the people of the Frogtown and Rondo community,” said Brandon Riechers, President and CEO. “Their resilience and dedication to maintaining the strong sense of culture that exists in the neighborhood guided our decision to support their recovery efforts. Royal is a values-driven credit union and this partnership allowed us to create a positive impact in the lives we touch.”
Riechers was joined by a small group of representatives from Royal’s leadership team on a recent visit to the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhood. Geoff Bullock, EVP-Member Experience; Paul Stednitz, VP-Retail Operations; Jennifer McHugh, VP-Community Engagement; and Denise Wright, Regional Director of Branch Operations, participated in a walking tour with planning council representatives to visit local businesses and learn more about how the funds will support community recovery efforts.
“The Frogtown and Rondo neighborhood is known for its ethnic diversity and strong cultural identity,” said Denise Wright, Royal Credit Union Regional Director of Branch Operations. “I grew up in St. Paul and was proud to help deliver Royal’s contribution to the business recovery fund. I want to thank everyone who participated in the fundraising effort to support this vibrant community.”
Applications for funds were accepted and reviewed by a committee of planning council and neighborhood association leaders. The committee made quick decisions in order to get the funds into the hands of the business owners who needed help most. Common needs included replacing large-pane windows on storefronts and removing graffiti. A local daycare received $4,000 from the fund to replace glass in their facility.
“When you look at the social fabric of the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhood, it is our small businesses that hold the community together,” said Sarah Nichols, Summit-University Planning Council Board Member. “Our small businesses offer needed services, community gathering spaces, and a tasty variety of authentic cuisine. We appreciate Royal Credit Union’s support and efforts to help our local entrepreneurs continue to thrive.”
The Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods in St. Paul are a half-mile south of Royal’s Rice St. location and were an epicenter of property damage, particularly along University Ave. W. The area is served by the Summit-University Planning Council and the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, which work to create opportunities for residents to learn about what is happening in their neighborhood and collaborate to improve the quality of life.