In honor of the 60th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream Speech," The Leaders Network, in partnership with Great Lakes Credit Union, is proud to announce an event at the future site of their credit union. The event will commemorate the historic March on Washington's mission to advocate for civil and economic rights of African-Americans and will celebrate the economic freedom that the new credit union will bring to the Austin community and the Westside of Chicago.


The event will raise awareness of this momentous partnership of two mission-aligned organizations, a first in the State of Illinois.  The event will be held at the site of the future branch of Leaders Network Financial, in partnership with Great Lakes Credit Union. The branch is scheduled to open its doors at 5600 W. Madison (in the Central/Madison Plaza) in late February. The formal announcement  and celebration will be held on August 28th, 2023 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.


“In 2005 several faith communities organized and modeled our social justice work after Dr. King’s SCLC to advocate for the marginalized on Chicago’s Westside and beyond”, said Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Church & Leader’s Network Co-Chair. “This giant step toward financial empowerment of families is launched today in honor of Dr. King who himself resided on the Westside in 1966. In 2023, the dream still lives!”, Hatch added.


As part of the event, Leaders Network Financial will announce that members of The Leaders Network will have on-line access to the products and services of the credit union immediately.


During the gathering, Great Lakes Credit Union will generously donate $2,500 to The Leaders Network, matched by an additional $2,500 from the Illinois Credit Union League, underscoring their shared commitment to uplift the community and promote financial inclusivity. In total, Great Lakes Credit Union has committed nearly $600,000 to bring a branch to the Austin neighborhood.


"We are thrilled to introduce Leaders Network Financial to the Austin community," said Michelle Collins, a strategic advisor for The Leaders Network and former community development banker with Austin and Oak Park roots. "Our credit union is dedicated to becoming a neighborhood staple, offering safe, secure, and approachable banking services to empower the residents. This event is a celebration of economic freedom and progress, echoing the ideals championed by Martin Luther King Jr. during his unforgettable speech."


The West side of Chicago has long been identified as a financial desert, lacking locally accessible quality and affordable  financial services. The establishment of Leaders Network Financial, in partnership with Great Lakes Credit Union, marks a significant milestone as it becomes the first credit union located in the heart of The Austin Community.  This branch will play a crucial role in providing sorely -needed financial education, offering deposit and loan products designed for residents and small businesses owners of the community.


"As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Dr. King's 'I Have a Dream Speech,' we acknowledge the shared vision between his mission and the goals of Leaders Network Financial," said Patrick Basler, Chief Experience Officer at Great Lakes Credit Union. "We are proud to be part of this historic moment, bringing banking services to a community that has been underserved for too long."


Leaders Network Financial and Great Lakes Credit Union are determined to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by creating a brighter future for the west side of Chicago, where economic opportunity and financial empowerment will thrive.


“The Leaders Network Financial Credit Union will enable residents of the Greater West Side to access the financial tools we need to pursue our dreams and simply fulfill our day to day needs.” said Rabbi Max Weiss. “Every community should have access to full banking services. Our partnership with Great Lakes Credit Union will allow us that access.”


For more information about Leaders Network Financial and its mission, please visit


About The Leaders Network

The Leaders Network, established in 2006, is a collaborative of multicultural, interfaith and community leaders working together to organize, strategize and mobilize to improve the quality of life for West side communities and Greater Chicago.  Because all people are valuable we are committed to social justice and disaster relief both locally and globally.


Our vision is to create flourishing communities with independent leadership, economic justice and equal educational opportunities for all.


About Great Lakes Credit Union (GLCU)

Founded in 1938 and headquartered in Northern Illinois, Great Lakes Credit Union is banking for a greater good. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative with over $1.3 billion in assets, GLCU is proud to serve around 80,000 members in Chicagoland and surrounding areas, and to give back to its members and communities through education, volunteerism, and partnerships. Learn more about GLCU’s accounts, educational initiatives, and community development programs at

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