MADISON, Wis. (2/18/11)--Credit unions will be among those joining in the fifth annual America Saves Week, which begins Sunday and ends Feb. 27. More than 1,800 organizations in 47 states are participating in activities to help Americans increase savings rates. With a motto of "Start Small, Think Big," the 2011 program is emphasizing saving automatically, through programs such as making regular, automated contributions into employer-sponsored retirement plans, signing up for regular transfers from checking to savings accounts and taking advantage of new rules that allow tax refunds to directly purchase U.S. savings bonds. One credit union participating is Credit Union of Ohio, a $115 million asset credit union in Columbus, Ohio. It is working with Ohio State University students, faculty and staff in the OSU Saves program. That program will kick off Thursday, with OSU President E. Gordon Gee becoming the first to sign up for OSU Saves. That program, presented by the credit union and Columbus Saves, an extension of America Saves, is simple: Each individual signs a pledge to save a specific amount for a targeted goal. OSU Savers will receive monthly savings tips and reminders to help them continue the savings path. "This is the first financial outreach program of its kind to be offered on a university campus in Ohio," said Credit Union of Ohio CEO Rich Capuano, noting the credit union is proud to be "leading the initiative to spread awareness, provide counseling and ultimately create smart savers on campus." America Saves Week is a partnership among financial institutions, government, military, non-profits, employers, educators and local campaigns. Coordinated by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America in partnership with the American Savings Education Council, it seeks to focus attention on how regular savings are an essential part of financial security, and to show how anyone can start with a savings plan. The savings rate is up to about 6% of Americans saving, compared with near zero before the recession, said the organization. However, most families still don't have an emergency fund, and 34% of Americans have no retirement savings, according to a Harris poll. A number of defense credit unions are participating in the Military Saves component of America Saves Week, and at least 33 credit unions are listed among participants of the national program. For more information, use the link.