As part of its commitment to serving historically disinvested communities, Great Lakes Credit Union (GLCU), with the support of the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL), has taken a first step toward branching out into Chicago’s West side.

The Northern Illinois-based credit union recently signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Leaders Network, a collaborative of faith and community leaders working together to improve the quality of life for the West side of Chicago by creating flourishing communities with equal access to economic and educational opportunities.

The memorandum, which is a first step toward a formal agreement, outlines the goals and objectives of a potential partnership, which include offering financial services to members of the Leaders Network and the surrounding West side communities.

“GLCU has served a socioeconomically, racially, and culturally diverse group of members since our inception nearly 85 years ago in Lake County,” said Steve Bugg, President and CEO of Great Lakes Credit Union.

“Our history, as well as our low-income designation and suite of products and services aimed at empowering the underbanked, means we are well-positioned to serve those in the West side communities of Chicago.”

Fifty-one percent of GLCU’s members are low-income, and GLCU is one of fewer than 10 credit unions in the U.S. to offer free HUD-Approved Housing and Financial Counseling to help empower these individuals.

“We know that, because of historic divestment in the West side of Chicago, its residents need to travel further than residents living in other neighborhoods to access basic services like grocery stores and financial institutions – and we want to help change that,” said Bugg.

Leaders Network and GLCU were introduced by the ICUL, the primary trade association and advocacy group for Illinois credit unions. The ICUL had been working with Leaders Network for months to help the organization identify the most sustainable way to bring a financial institution to their communities.

“Of all the possible credit union partners for Leaders Network, GLCU rose to the top because of their shared values,” said Patrick Basler, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of ICUL.

“They repeatedly show, through action and financial support, their commitment to financially empowering their local communities.”

GLCU hopes to reach a definitive agreement with Leaders Network by the end of 2022, and begin offering financial services to Leaders Network members and community residents shortly thereafter.

About Great Lakes Credit Union

Founded in 1938 and headquartered in Northern Illinois, GLCU is committed to financial empowerment for you. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative with over $1 billion in assets, GLCU is proud to serve more than 80,000 members in the Chicagoland and surrounding areas. Learn more about GLCU’s accounts, educational initiatives and community development programs at

« Back to Articles