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CU in Kansas tells House hearing of need for fin ed
LAWRENCE, Kan. (8/25/10)--Credit unions are creating positive solutions to the problems caused by financial illiteracy in today's economy, but there are two areas where financial literacy can improve, a Wichita, Kan.-based credit union told a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday. Chris Wolgamott, community development liaison at Wichita-based Meritrust CU, appeared before the House Financial Services Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, in a hearing in Lawrence, Kan., on "Empowering Consumers: Can Financial Literacy Education Prevent Another Financial Crisis?" Subcommittee chairman is Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.)
Click to view larger image Kansas Credit Union Association President Marla Marsh and Lenexa, Kan.-based Mainstreet CU President/CEO John D. Beverlin Sr. testified on credit unions' strength during the recession and how credit unions have helped members while facing rising regulatory burdens during Monday's hearing in Overland Park, Kan., of the House Financial Services Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations. (Photo provided by Kansas Credit Union Association)
The hearing is the third in an "End of Excess" series and the second one to meet in Kansas. Monday, Kansas Credit Union Association (KCUA) President Marla Marsh and Lenexa, Kan.-based Mainstreet CU President/CEO John D. Beverlin Sr. testified about how credit unions have weathered the recession and helped members while facing increasing regulatory burdens. Noting that financial literacy encompasses a broad range of topics and spans a lifetime of learning, Wolgamott outlined the need for financial literacy programs, citing statistics from studies about Americans' problems with budgeting and saving and debt. Credit unions' principle of "People Helping People" is evident at both the state and national level in financial literacy, he said, adding that in the past year, credit unions reported to the National Youth Involvement Board they conducted 13,577 presentations nationwide to more than 413,000 youth, a 6.3% increase in the number of students reached. Credit unions in Kansas instructed more than 6,000 students. He highlighted KCUA's partnership with the former state treasurer to create a Money Smart Financial Camp, Meritrust CU's involvement with a Communities in School Reality U program, and the credit union's partnerships with local social organizations. "We are the only credit union in the state with a full-time paid position dedicated specifically to financial literacy, which shows our organizational commitment to improve the financial lives of those we serve," Wolgamott said. Providing financial literacy for adults remains a struggle. "It is easier to reach adults at their place of employment or by partnering with an organization they are currently affiliated with than offering classes at retail branches," he said. It also is difficult for some schools to find time to allow guests to present topics that may or may not teach exactly to a education standard. "Building a connection between schools and financial institutions is a tremendous benefit to both organizations," he said. The credit union industry is currently providing many opportunities, both locally and nationally, to strengthen the financial position of many, using their cooperative and member-centric ideology, he added.
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