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A Brief History of Credit Unions

Dreams Thrive HereOctober 19th is International Credit Union Day. As a credit union member, you likely already know that credit unions exist for you- the member. Our goals are to help you succeed financially, while supporting the local community. The unique not-for-profit financial cooperative model is the reason “dreams thrive here” is this year’s International Credit Union Day theme.

Dreams have thrived at credit unions since the early 19th century. The credit union “idea” of a financial cooperative evolved from the cooperative activities of early 19th century Europe. The first of these cooperatives was an 1844 marketing cooperative organized by a group of workers in Rochdale, England. That same year in Germany, Victor Aime Huber began developing and publicizing some of the early European cooperative theories. The idea of credit societies was a part of this effort.

Moved by the crop failure and famine that had devastated Germany in 1846–1847, Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen created the first true credit unions in the mid-19th century. After organizing a cooperatively owned mill and bakery, Schulze-Delitzsch founded the first "people's bank" in 1852 to provide credit to entrepreneurs in the city. He remained committed to that concept until 1864, when he organized a new credit union for farmers along the principles of cooperative interdependence, a community-first mentality and a volunteer management structure that are still fundamental today.

Over the years, credit unions spread to communities around the world. In the early 1900s credit unions were established in the United States. Today there are more than 68,000 credit unions in the world serving 235 million people in 109 countries.

Rivermark opened its doors in 1951 with the vision to serve you—our members. Since then, our goal has always been the same: to meet your financial needs and to provide you with opportunities that enable you and your family to succeed. With your support, Rivermark has grown over the years to 90,000+ members and we hope to continue growing with our community. With initiatives like the Rivermark Community Fund and Balance Financial Wellness services, we hope to continue to serve the local community for years to come.

If you have any questions on what differentiates credit unions, or the services that Rivermark offers, please contact us.