FHLBank Chicago Announces Community FirstĀ® Award Recipients

  • April 30, 2021

CHICAGO, April 30, 2021 – The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s (FHLBank Chicago) Community First® Awards recognize outstanding achievements of our member institutions and their local partners as they work together to strengthen the communities they serve. Each year, FHLBank Chicago members submit nominations for consideration in four award categories. Award recipients receive $10,000 to support a nonprofit organization of their choice and were celebrated at FHLBank Chicago’s virtual member meetings held in April. FHLBank Chicago is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2021 Community First Awards.

Affordable Housing
Through its Single Room Occupancy (SRO) program, Pillars rehabilitates blighted single-family homes to house formerly homeless individuals. The SRO program benefits from a strong partnership with Community First Credit Union (CFCU), located in Appleton, Wisconsin, which facilitates the rehabilitation work through a reduced-interest line of credit. Since Pillars’ first SRO opened in 2018, three more have followed. CFCU nominated Pillars for their commitment to providing shelter, support, and solutions in Wisconsin’s Fox Cities.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Busey Bank’s bilingual banking center, located within the Fairmont City Library, opened in 2015 as the first bilingual banking branch in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Fairmont City, Illinois, is a small and predominately Hispanic community, with more than 40% of its residents living at or below the poverty line. Since 2019, this bilingual branch has opened 241 checking and savings accounts, closed 31 consumer loans, and provided six mortgages. Busey Bank nominated their bilingual banking center because of its importance in serving the Spanish-speaking community.

Economic Development
The North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) serves under and unemployed residents of North Lawndale and the surrounding communities in Chicago, Illinois, through job placement, training, and financial coaching. In 2020 alone, NLEN provided 423 individuals with one-on-one career and financial coaching, resulting in a 93% increase in core job readiness skills and a 61% job placement rate. Inland Bank, located in Oak Brook, Illinois, nominated NLEN for their dedication to helping residents improve their lives, and in turn, their community.

Emerging Leader  
Luke Samalya, a graduate of the Associates in Commercial Real Estate Program administered through LISC Milwaukee, launched Danna Capital Corporation, a minority-owned affordable housing development company, in 2020. First Business Bank, located in Madison, Wisconsin, nominated Mr. Samalya because of the significant impact he has made in the world of affordable housing and by giving back to communities in need. Danna Capital has become a leader in advocating for and mentoring other minority development firms. 

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
The mission of FHLBank Chicago is to partner with our members in Illinois and Wisconsin to provide them competitively priced funding, a reasonable return on their investment in the Bank, and support for their community investment activities. FHLBank Chicago is one of 11 Federal Home Loan Banks created by the Federal Home Loan Bank Act of 1932 as a government sponsored enterprise to support mortgage lending and community investment. FHLBank Chicago members include banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and community development financial institutions throughout our District. To learn more about FHLBank Chicago, visit fhlbc.com or follow @FHLBC on Twitter. “Community First” is a registered trademark of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.

Contact Us

Please direct all media inquiries to:

Casey Reidy 
Director, Communications 

Heather Bockstruck
Assistant Director, Communications