125 North Fulton St. Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 273-4611
Toll Free: (877) 273-AFCU      Contact

Alternatives' History



  • The Alternatives Fund (a community chest/revolving loan fund set up by area coop businesses) becomes a Credit Union. Membership was limited to members of area coops and employees of worker managed businesses.
  • We offer savings accounts and loans at 12%.
  • We receive designation as a low income Credit Union.
  • End of year $137,552 in deposits and $35,838 in loans.


  • First statement of goals are presented to annual meeting, stressing lending in the community, starting new cooperatives, and volunteerism.
  • End year with $378,406 in deposits, and $145,123 in loans.


  • First real estate loan.
  • Reach ½ million deposits.
  • Alternatives Energy Home Loans gives loans to innovative ways to improve homes by saving energy.
  • End year with $817,334 in deposits, and $428,010 in loans


  • Annual meeting snowed out.
  • March: We offer share drafts and reach $1,000,000 in deposits. By November we reach $2,000,000.
  • Start home mortgage program.
  • End year with $2,009,790 in deposits and $640,412 in loans.


  • Alternatives gets its first alarm system.
  • Green Star opens on Cayuga Street.
  • Pledge to finance 3 INHS super-insulated houses.
  • End year with $3,582,017 in deposits and $4,034,857 in loans.


  • First loan sent to collection agent.
  • Alternatives moves to 301 West State Street.
  • Start Alternatives Currents, our monthly newsletter.
  • End year with $4,863,035 in deposits and $5,133,824 in loans.


  • Offer members pay credit life and disability insurance.
  • Offer roundtable discussions with retailers and contractors.
  • First issue of Alternatives Business Yellow Pages.
  • Staff all dress up with "Bill Myers" masks for Halloween.
  • End year with deposits of $6,452,443 and loans at $4,574,442.


  • Kick off our Local Small Business Venture Capital Network
  • We start what we think is the first Socially Responsible Investment Club, modeled after the National Association of Investment Clubs (NAIC)
  • Join "Lets Barter" system, a precursor to Ithaca Hours
  • Offer seminars on Ethical Investing, Low Income Housing, Landlording,
  • Personal Budgeting, Investment Club, Entrepreneurs Network, Small Business Employee
  • Benefits, Business Plans, Accounting Systems.
  • End year deposits $7,805,468 and loans $6,656,471.


  • Published first edition of "Home Buyers Guide to Mortgages"
  • End year deposits: $9,189,528 and $8,135,013 in loans.

1989 Tenth Anniversary!

  • End with $10,543,456 in deposits and $8,474,445 in loans.


  • Dollars for Dreams, our Student Credit Union is born.
  • End year with $12,433,165 in deposits and $9,120,977 in loans.


  • Start Local Sustainable Quality of Life Economic Indicators meetings (the precursor to Livable Wage)
  • End year with $17,929,456 in deposits and $12,655,143 in loans.


  • Start livable wage "wage watchers" clump and reach a formula on livable wage.
  • Approval for SBA lending.
  • First web page!
  • End with $17,456,483 in deposits and $12,940,435


  • First SBA loan.
  • Offer Merchant VISA to member businesses.
  • First hire for micro-enterprise outreach and counseling.
  • Start Credit Builder Loan.
  • End year with $20,040,666 and $13,737,488 in loans.


  • Start Historic Preservation Lending program with Historic Ithaca.
  • End with $21,225,706 in deposits and $14,502,615 in loans.


  • Begin lending for modular homes.
  • First year we offer IDAs.
  • Every staff person now has email.
  • End year with $21,162,164 in deposits and $14,407,771 in loans


  • Hire our first full time business loan officer
  • Take over the CEO (now called Business CENTS) program from the city
  • Student Credit Union opens is first off-site branch.
  • End year with $25,419,554 in deposits and $16,168,300 in loans.

1999 20th Anniversary!

  • Start CU@home online banking services.
  • Purchase 125 North Fulton Street, our future home.
  • Happy 20th year!
  • Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry's) is the guest speaker at our annual meeting
  • Student Credit Union expands to ACS
  • End year with $27,437,403 and $19,747,862 in loans.


  • Ground breaking for our new building with homing pigeons, drumming and 150 folks.
  • End year with $34,475,413 in deposits and $21,295,326 in loans
  • First Business from the Heart seminar


  • Grand opening on August 19, 2002!
  • Launch the 1/10 Ithaca Hour
  • End with $37,744,492 in deposits and $21,179, 490 in loans.


  • First year for Free Tax Preparation Program
  • First year for RALs (Refund Anticipation Loans)
  • The West End Diorama is now on display on the 2nd floor.
  • First Credit Path seminar is offered.
  • First "The Business of Making Art, the Art of Making Business" workshop.


  • Begin financial counseling program.
  • 2nd floor build out is completed.
  • Our new mural by Mary Beth Ihnken is unveiled.
  • End year with $43,229,000 in deposits.


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Ariana Blossom, Blossom Success Coaching

I was attracted to Alternatives' educational programs MoneyWise and Business CENTS. I knew I needed to learn more about finances to successfully run a business. I applied for the business IDA - this coupled with the guest lecturers were of great use to my business education. I am now a Professional Success Coach working with individuals and businesses for greater vision and empowerment. Alternatives has been a huge help in my success.

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