Next Program

Our programs, the second Thursday of the month, are free and open to the public.  Programs are held at The Heights, 8001 Dale Ave., Richmond Heights, 63117.    Come at 6:30 pm for coffee and conversation.  Programs begin at 7 pm.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Community Responses to the Payday Loan Crisis

There are over 1,000 payday lenders in Missouri. That’s more than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined.

Payday lenders charge an average interest rate of 444 %, according to the Missouri Division of Finance.   Missouri’s weak law allows interest rates of up to 1,950%   Until the early 1990s, small-dollar lenders operated in Missouri at a 28%  interest rate  cap.  The Missouri Legislature has repeatedly failed to enact meaningful predatory lending reform legislation.

 In addition:

  • Missouri allows six loan renewals. Fees are charged for each renewal resulting in financially unsophisticated workers falling into a spiral of debt, which often results in repossession of cars and other belongings. Eight  states surrounding Missouri, forbid renewals. 
  • More than 90 Missouri nursing homes have payday loan operations inside of the building, allowing the lender to deduct the loan, interest and fees straight from the paychecks of nursing home workers, according to the Missouri Better Business Bureau.

What is being done to counter-act the harmful practices of the payday loan industry?   St. Louis City passed an ordinance to regulate lenders.  Is it a tool that can be used to protect consumers?   Come learn about Prosperity Connection, a nonprofit organization that has successfully helped individuals and families earn economic independence through financial education, community services and low cost banking options in an effort to improve their standard of living and better their lifestyle. Prosperity Connection has two outreach entities: the RedDough Money Center (a non-profit alternative to payday lending and check cashing services) and the Excel Center (a destination point for free financial education and one-on-one financial counseling).


Robert L. Swearingen is a Staff Attorney with Legal Servies of Eastern Missiouri (LSEM) where he specializes in Consumer law including auto fraud, predatory lending, unfair and deceptive business practices and private enforcement of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Mr. Swearingen joined LSEM in 2007. Mr. Swearingen has been employed as a staff attorney for the office of the Missouri Attorney General (1983-1985); Missouri Public Defender (1986-1988); and the United Auto Workers Legal Services, where he managed two offices from 1991 to 2007. Mr. Swearingen is a charter member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.


Paul Woodruff serves as the Executive Director of Prosperity Connection and Vice President of Community Development for St. Louis Community Credit Union (SLCCU).  Paul began his career at SLCCU in 2009 as a teller and has subsequently worked as a business development specialist and manager of community development before transitioning into his role with Prosperity Connection. 

He is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships that fund, support, and advance Prosperity Connection’s mission of providing financial capacity-building initiatives to underserved populations throughout St. Louis.  These duties include oversight of financial education programs throughout the community and at the Excel Center, management of St. Louis Community’s CDFI status and grant requests, and maintaining relations with community, business, and government leaders.  As an active member of the community, Paul also serves as an advisor and board member for several community and national groups, including the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.

Registration is not necessary but will help us plan. Click here to register