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NASA astronaut helps Filene LIFT off program
MADISON, Wis. (11/21/11)--Astronaut Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Johnson Space Center, recently addressed the Filene Research Institute and five partner credit unions that are taking part in Filene's LIFT loan program.

Astronaut Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center, helped the Filene Research Institute and five partner credit unions celebrate the launch of Filene's LIFT loan program. From left, are: Matt Davis, Filene Research Institute, Madison, Wis.; Lance Potter, Vermont FCU, Burlington, Vt.; Susan Heneman, Public Service CU, Denver; Kavandi, NASA; Matt Vance, Industrial CU, Bellingham, Wash.; Leah Gjertson, UW-Madison Center for Financial Security; Jason Sherrill, Inetsolution Inc.; David Southall, Innovations CU, Panama City, Fla.; and Denise Gabel, Filene Research Institute. (Photo provided by Filene Research Institute)
LIFT, an idea shaped by Filene's i3 innovation team, is being tested as a way to improve repayment behavior and financial capacity. Kavandi spoke to help celebrate the launch of an idea that provides incentives for timely loan payments.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Financial Security will study automobile loans to 1,200 low- and middle-income consumers with subprime credit scores, with the results to be published in 2013.

LIFT is supported by a grant by the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

"It is a fantastic experience to see an i3 idea get into the field for testing," says Denise Gabel, Filene chief innovation officer. "The LIFT program will provide credit-challenged consumers with the help they need, while managing the inherent risk in doing so."

Credit unions piloting LIFT during its research phase include:

  • Del Norte CU, Santa Fe, N.M., with $392 million assets;
  • Industrial CU, Bellingham, Wash., with $144 million assets;
  • Innovations CU, Panama City Beach, Fla., with $148 million assets;
  • Public Service CU, Denver, with $1 billion assets;
  • Vermont Federal CU, Burlington, Vt., with $330 million assets;
Filene i3 team is a work group of young professionals that shapes innovative ideas into new products and services for credit unions.

The Filene i3 innovation team behind the LIFT idea comprises:

  • Shelly Berryman, SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., with $8.8 billion assets;
  • Matt Henry, Elevations CU, Boulder, Colo., with $1 billion assets;
  • Jackie Edwards, Connexus CU, Wausau, Wis., with $351 million assets; and
  • Mike Kenzie, Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, Pa., with $432 million assets, Santa Ana, Calif.
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