PEWAUKEE, Wis. (11/29/07)--Wisconsin credit unions’ work--through their REAL Solutions initiative to meet needs in communities statewide--was the reason they captured Best of Show honors in the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Pro Award Competition. Through REAL Solutions, Wisconsin’s credit unions help Wisconsinites build financially strong self-supporting families and communities, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League. For example, Wisconsin credit unions offer:
* Affordable loans--Credit unions make loans whenever possible to meet members’ needs. This is a way to establish or rebuild creditworthiness and help members make it until payday, said the league. * Alternatives to predatory financial services--Credit unions have saved Wisconsin consumers $1 million in fees by offering short-term loans for less than half of what payday lenders charge. Credit unions also offer lower cost alternatives for check-cashing. * Safe, reasonable mortgages--As part of their Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) program, credit unions make below-market-rate mortgages available to first-time homebuyers with household incomes at or below the median in their market. * Financial education--Wisconsin credit unions provide free to all Wisconsin public high schools this fall the brass student program, a personal finance initiative that promotes responsible financial management to high school students through a lifestyle money magazine produced for young adult by young adults. * Financial intervention--Credit unions refer their members to state-regulated offices of Consumer Credit Counseling Services for assistance with debt and money management. * Outreach to other cultures and immigrants--Wisconsin credit unions are creating and tailoring services to address the state’s expanding diversity. * Creative partnerships--By partnering with local businesses, non-profits, government agencies and others, credit unions are solving problems locally. Credit unions and Wisconsin counties partnered to help single parents obtain loans for affordable used cars or child care, so they can access or maintain employment, added the league.