President Clinton created a video spotlight to announce RMM’s Commitment to Action!
Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc., is thrilled to announce that we have been chosen by the Clinton Foundation, founded by President Bill Clinton, to partner with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), specifically for our work in establishing a federal credit union for rural and farmworking families. CGI announced RMM’s Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative 2023 Meeting on Sept. 18 in New York City.
We are deeply honored to be chosen as a Commitment Maker by CGI — a global platform that brings the public, private and philanthropic sectors to the table to address the most urgent challenges of our time. Working with a select group of partners, CGI works to achieve climate resilience and health equity, as well as inclusive economic recovery and growth that encourages equitable opportunity and stability for all. It is RMM’s commitment to the latter category that has prompted CGI to partner with us.
As the immigration crisis continues to build, we at RMM remain steadfastly dedicated to shaping a more just, rural New York State through nurturing leadership, changing unjust systems and structures, and standing with the disenfranchised, especially farmworkers and rural workers. Thus, RMM has embarked on a pioneering initiative with the New York Episcopal Federal Credit Union to establish financial equity among migrants and rural, farmworking families, who face undue barriers to building economic stability and opportunity.
It is estimated that being unbanked costs an individual $3,000 a year in exorbitant fees and payday loans, while missing out on the opportunity to build a positive credit score that’s made possible by access to mainstream financial services. This financial inequity disproportionally affects people who are younger, poorer and of color. The Credit Union seeks to change this by offering banking services, affordable loans and financial wellness seminars and counseling, particularly to people who are marginalized and unbanked.
The financial hardship endured by economically marginalized families is exacerbated by geographic isolation, a lack of political power, a lack of resources and a lack of opportunities to generate income. For those who are recent immigrants, especially non-English-speaking individuals, there is also a vulnerability in the educational, health care, criminal justice and political systems. All of this leads to an ongoing oppression, in which people are surviving rather than thriving. RMM is committed to creating an alternative economic structure in rural New York by providing access to financial self-sustainability for these individuals.
RMM’s work in establishing the Credit Union in rural New York is part of RMM’s overall commitment to financial equity and opportunity throughout the four regions of rural New York housing RMM’s worker education centers. This commitment also includes:
- The development of financial literacy and cooperative leadership through our Rural Academy of the People.
- The support of the establishment of grassroots cooperatives. Currently RMM is partnering with the following cooperatives:the Long Island Farmworker Cooperative, which grows and markets fruits and vegetables in Riverhead, Long Island; Bags for Justice, a youth-owned cooperative that produces screen-printed tote bags and apparel in the Catskills; and Las Chefs Latinas, a cooking cooperative based in the Finger Lakes of New York.
- Enhancing change in rural life through public policies building upon RMM’s 25-year leadership of the Justice For Farmworkers Campaign, which led to the historic passage of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act in 2019.
RMM’s 40-year history has given the organization extensive experience in living and working in communities throughout rural New York. RMM has built an extensive network of diverse, grassroots relationships, as well as partnerships with universities, labor unions, communities of faith and non-profit organizations. These partnerships and experience have led to RMM’s profound and effective understanding of the issues facing rural communities.
Rural & Migrant Ministry looks forward to its partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative as we make the commitment to standing with marginalized families and developing creative solutions that model new approaches to systemically entrenched problems.