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Two men, Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, were responsible for creating the first true credit unions, organized to provide credit and savings in Germany in 1852 and 1864.

In 1900, Alphonse Desjardins organized a credit union (caisse populaire) in Levis, Quebec. The reasons were the same as those in Germany 50 years before. People were poor, interest rates were financially crippling, and the credit union offered a way out. Desjardins helped found other credit unions, including the first one in the United States, in 1909 in New Hampshire.

In 1921, Edward A. Filene, a Boston merchant first exposed to Credit Unions in 1907 in India, and instrumental in the passage of the first general state credit union act in 1909; decided that the only way to get credit unions off the ground was to seek federal legislation and increased state legislation. He created the Credit Union National Extension Bureau and hired a Massachusetts attorney, Roy F. Bergengren, to help him.

In 1934, Congress passed a federal credit union act, which permitted credit unions to be organized anywhere in the United States. The passage of this landmark legislation created a choice for credit unions. They could incorporate under either state or federal law. This system of dual chartering persists to the present day.

In 1935, when credit unions were helping Americans through the Great Depression, the treasurer of a Midwestern credit union said that credit unions were "not for profit, not for charity, but for service," and that philosophy holds true today.

Credit unions continue to look out for their members' interests and provide a level of service that is not generally available at other financial institutions. Whether it's providing a loan to help a member cover unexpected medical bills, giving financial counseling to a member whose company closed its doors, or simply offering a better deal on a used car loan, credit unions make a difference for their members and the communities they serve. This is the way we still feel today at Cal State L.A. Federal Credit Union.

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