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Bill Myers wins Corrine Galvin Human Rights Award

Press Release
Bill Myers awarded Corinne Galvin Human Rights Award

April 21, 2007 - CEO Bill Myers was honored by the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission with the Corrine Galvin Award “for an individual’s work on a human rights issue.” As written in his nomination, “Bill Myers is especially suited to the award this year because of the theme, “Fostering and Sustaining Social Justice in Tompkins County.

What is social justice without economic justice? Bill's work as the founder of Alternatives Federal Credit Union has had considerable impact on Tompkins County and beyond in promoting economic justice. He has dedicated his life to helping people from all walks of life become financially self sufficient. Alternatives' Vision Statement is "To build wealth and create economic opportunity for underserved people and communities. "Bill's leadership and vision has helped launch innovative programs and services like:

The Living Wage standard: every other year, Alternatives does a study to determine what it takes to live in Tompkins County. It then pays its staff that wage and promotes the standard to the rest of the community.

Free Tax Preparation Program: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. Alternatives wants to make sure all eligible families receive EITC and has created a program using volunteers to prepare taxes for low-to-moderate income people in the community. In this way, people have not only received EITC they didn't know they were eligible for, they avoided preparation fees at the commercial preparation firms, and avoided the predatory rapid refund loans that are often pushed.

Individual Development Accounts is a matched savings program that help people develop a savings habit and save a substantial sum of money for buying a house, starting a business or going to school.

Bill’s reputation in the community is that of a visionary and doer. He sees possibilities and then makes these possibilities a reality. Established in 1979, Alternatives Federal Credit Union is a full-service, community development credit union with 9,000 members (67% of whom are low-to-moderate income) and $50 million in assets. Alternatives has been recognized for its innovation in developing and providing products and services designed to help its low income members move towards financial stability and asset ownership, with a focus on home ownership and small business development.

Under Bill’s leadership, Alternatives has always emphasized financial education as a key to helping people improve their situations. In addition to traditional credit union services, Alternatives was one of the first organizations in the country to offer Individual Development Accounts, has its own microenterprise development program, provides free income tax preparation and non-predatory refund anticipation loans, and has student credit union branches in four local schools.

Bill Myers’ goal is no less than to make the world a better place to live. I believe he has achieved this goal, although he is never one to rest on his laurels. As Bill has announced his retirement from Alternatives in June 2007, it is a fitting time for him to receive the award of which he is so deserving.


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Rima Shamieh

My IDA [Individual Development Account] experience was just incredible. I saved a few bucks every week and after a year, I had a savings account with $3,000 in it! And I'm glad that the MoneyWise class was required, because it really helped me develop a healthier relationship with money. So many of the skills I learned in class seemed so obvious, but I never thought/knew how to do them until we went over them in class. For example, tracking my spending made a HUGE difference in how I now spend money. Also, the exercises in the beginning when we explored our relationships with money - I discovered I'm a carefree, spirited, impulsive spender. It helps to put a name on things.

After accruing thousands of dollars in debt from student loans from when I was an undergraduate, I was determined to do all I could to stay out of debt for when I continued my education. The IDA really helped. I feel so much better prepared to build equity and save for my future. Thanks, Alternatives!

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