The Minneapolis Star Tribune released a recent article on the Leech Lake Financial Services Credit Builder program which was spearheaded by LLFS Executive Director, Rob Aitken.

For nearly a decade, LLFS has let customers use the vacation time they’ve built up at work as collateral for loans. As they repay their loans, they get back their vacation hours, or paid time off. The automated repayment process is now in place with employers around Cass Lake and Bemidji, most significantly the Leech Lake tribal government and the three casinos the band owns.

“They’ll deduct that [repayment] amount out of the client’s paycheck and send it to us,” Aitken said. “It’s easy for the client and for us.”

Since its launch in 2013, LLFS has made more than 2,100 loans totaling more than $5 million and provided financial literacy and other training to more than 800 residents. The lending program results in a community-wide increase in credit scores of nearly 50 points, a near-zero default rate and better access to capital in a low-income, underbanked area.