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Wis. Fin. Literacy awards go to CU league CUNA projects
MADISON, Wis. (12/27/11)--The Wisconsin Governor's Council on Financial Literacy announced recipients of its 2011 Wisconsin Financial Literacy Award Thursday. Credit unions and their programs were well-represented among the winners.

Three organizational winners involving credit unions are:

  • Investor Education in Your Workplace, a Wisconsin Credit Union League program;
  • Money Mission, a money management simulation game originated by the league and offered to credit unions across the country in a program administered by the Credit Union National Association; and
  • UW CU, Madison, Wis., which hosts free financial education seminars.
News Now reported last week on Money Mission's award.

The Investor Education in Your Workplace program is the first of its kind using credit unions as the springboard to engage thousands of citizens in voluntary, workplace-based investor education said the Wisconsin league. It encourages credit unions and ultimately other employers in their communities to offer 10 hours of voluntary online investment education to employees on basic investment concepts.

According to the council's announcement the program  has led to positive measureable changes in investment knowledge, attitudes and behavior.  In Wisconsin, 24 companies with 3,600 employees--in addition to more than 3,476 employees from 80 credit unions in the state and league staff--registered to complete at least 10 hours each of investor education. The participating credit union employees received a total educational value of $450,000.

In its initial phase, the league's program used pre- and post-tests to measure how well participants' knowledge improved. When calculated as a whole, participants averaged 62.15% on course pre-tests and 87.93% on post-tests--an improvement in knowledge of 25.79% across both sessions.

The program's second phase took graduates of the program and trained them to train others to expand the efforts, according to Chris Henzig, director of communications at the league.

Also, from fall of 2010 to spring of 2011, Pennsylvania and North Carolina credit unions joined the program, which expects to add another 10 states, an additional 100,000 hours of training for roughly 10,000 employees from credit unions and the employers they serve, Henzig told News Now. She also noted that changing investment behaviors through the program can stimulate a potential $1 billion in new investing.

The Investor Education in Your Workplace program was funded by the Investor Protection Trust, which granted $500,000 to pilot the program in Wisconsin and train the Certified Financial Educators (CFEs) to expand the program, and by the National Credit Union Foundation, which provided $30,000 in assistance to train the CFEs to exist in expanding the program to other states.

UW CU will receive its award for providing financial literacy seminars. In 2010, it provided 295 seminars, reaching more than 8,000 people. More than 90% of them were underserved individuals or college students, said the council's announcement. Through October of 2011, another 6,000 were educated in the program. UW CU has more than 40 financial mentors who have been certified and undergo ongoing training.

Credit unions were also mentioned in two other awards as working to improve financial literacy of the state's citizens. Recognized were CoVantage CU of Antigo and its student credit union, Bulldog CU, cited in the award to Laurel Scherer of Antigo Middle School; and Community First CU, Appleton, a partner with organizational winner Appleton Area School District.

In all, eight organizations and 14 individuals will receive the awards.


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