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NCUF approves grant to Maryland and DC CU Association

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COLUMBIA, Md. (10/16/08)--To extend credit unions’ outreach to unbanked consumers in and around the nation’s capital, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has approved an Innovation Grant of $16,250 to the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA). The NCUF grant will empower MDDCCUA to organize four “Community Outreach Financial Fairs” that are projected to bring financial education to 40,000 unbanked consumers throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. Outreach efforts will focus on underserved areas of Baltimore, Prince George’s County, and Western Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia. “The needs of these consumers vary from basic savings accounts to mortgages for first-time homebuyers, but all efforts must center on financial literacy,” observed MDDCCUA President Mike Beall. “Unbanked consumers need to be educated on how best to obtain and use financial services that will benefit their personal wealth and well being.” MDDCCUA staff Sharon Sykes and Jennifer Gore plan to recruit credit unions, business partners, and financial education leaders to participate in the quarterly fairs. Expert exhibitors will be asked to help consumers answer key questions:
* What is a credit union? * What products and services do credit unions provide that work for me? * How do I use these products and services for my personal wealth advantage?
“As a result, consumers will become better informed and learn that access to credit union membership is available and attainable,” Beall concluded. This is the second of 14 Innovation Grants to be approved by NCUF this year (News Now, Oct. 15).

CU System briefs (10/15/2008)

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* TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (10/16/08)--Southeast Corporate experienced record-breaking attendance during its eight days of fall forums in Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama this month. More than 160 credit union executives attended the forums, surpassing prior attendance by more than 30%, the corporate said. Forums focused on investments, anti-money laundering, and payment systems ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/16/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) Better Choice program was featured in the fall 2008 issue of Cascade, a publication of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank(Life is a Highway Oct. 14). PCUA Senior Vice President Mike Wishnow, and Director of Communications Diane Powell were featured. To read the article, use the link ... * SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. (10/16/08)--Southbridge (Mass.) CU’s student-run branch at Southbridge High School recently celebrated its 20th anniversary (Values and Visions Sept. 24). The credit union gave each student a commemorative notebook, which contains information about the credit union’s “Start Right” program and some educational facts from 1988, to celebrate. The credit union staff mentors students, presents literacy topics to student groups, and last year it installed MoneyMix to Southbridge CU’s website ...

League CUs vote to pursue merger disappointing

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WESTBROOK, Maine (10/16/08)--The Maine Credit Union League called the vote of Kennebec Valley FCU’s (KV FCU) board of directors to continue with its proposal to convert to a bank and immediately merge into another one “disappointing but just one step in a long process.” On Tuesday, the credit union board voted in favor of its proposal to pursue the conversion process. If approved, KV FCU would convert to a mutual savings bank and then merge with Kennebec Savings Bank. The conversion vote seems to run contrary to much of the feedback coming from credit union members, according to John Murphy, Maine league president. “From everything we have heard, many members are opposed to this proposal and look forward to making their votes count,” Murphy said. “From the beginning, our position has been and remains that the credit union charter is the best option. “There is a significant value of member ownership that belonging to a credit union offers and that would be lost if this credit union converts. Educating members and helping them understand what they would lose will be the focus of our message in the months ahead,” he said. The league encourages credit union members to get the facts about the proposal and consider it carefully. “In the end, members will consider if it is in their best interests to lose their credit union and the benefits of using a credit union, such as consistently higher rates on savings, lower rates on loans, and the value of being a member-owned institution. The reality is if more members vote to convert to and merge with a bank, the credit union will no longer be their credit union and all of the capital, assets and structure will cease to belong to them,” Murphy concluded. KV FCU, based in Augusta, Maine, has $51 million in assets.

Bush proclaims ICU Day

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--President Bush commended credit union employees for their commitment to excellence, integrity and personal responsibility in a letter proclaiming International Credit Union Day (ICU Day), which is being celebrated by credit unions around the world today. “Credit unions provide financial services for millions of members worldwide. As nonprofit financial institutions, credit unions play a vital role in expanding economic opportunity and helping individuals and families achieve their dreams. For nearly 100 years, credit unions in America have made a positive difference in the lives of their members and the communities they serve,” Bush wrote. ICU Day was established by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in 1948 to celebrate the international credit union movement. This year’s theme is “It Belongs to Me.” "This year’s theme celebrates the economic democracy and equal ownership rights of each credit union member, regardless of how much money a member has on deposit," said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. "Our unique structure and the philosophy it engenders are at the root of the extraordinary affinity that members have for their credit unions." "In a movement that is marked by cooperation rather than competition, International Credit Union Day is the perfect time for credit unions groups to demonstrate their spirit of unity and service to members. After all, it is this cooperative spirit and commitment to members that we celebrate today," he added. Activities at credit unions today:
* Board directors from ONR Employees’ North Bay CU, Canada, are greeting members at the credit union throughout the day. ONR also is holding a non-perishable food drive to support the credit union philosophy of “people helping people”; * VA Pittsburgh (Pa.) EFCU is giving away cash door prizes each hour and is placing $5 in new members’ accounts; * Southend CU in the United Kingdom is holding an international coffee tasting; * Valley Oak CU, Three Rivers, Calif., will open the doors for members in each branch and will wash the windshields on members’ cars; and * Watertown Employees (S.D.) FCU employees will be speaking during radio spots inviting the community to the credit union’s celebration.
Delaware credit unions are celebrating International Credit Union Week, which started Monday and will end Saturday, by publishing their seventh Credit Union Supplement in The News Journal, Delaware’s state newspaper. The 16-page supplement was paid for with advertising from Delaware credit unions, according to the Delaware Credit Union League. The supplement, “My Credit Union: It Belongs to Me” highlights the safety and soundness of Delaware credit unions and explains the difference between credit unions and banks. It also includes a directory of all 34 credit unions in Delaware. More than 120,000 copies of the supplement were inserted into the newspaper. The World Council of Credit Unions also is hosting a special ICU Day webcast with WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear (use the link). WOCCU and CUNA also are sponsoring a reception at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill. During the reception, credit union contributions will be honored. Attendees include Capitol Hill staffers, National Credit Union Administration board members, representatives from the credit union trade press, and credit union representatives.

Staatz nominated for CUNA board

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--Rod Staatz, president/CEO, State Employees CU of Maryland, Linthicum, Md., has submitted his nomination for the District 2, Class C board of directors position. The deadline for nominations for eight positions on CUNA's board is Oct. 17. Already nominated are:
* Mike Mercer, president/CEO, Georgia Credit Union League, Duluth, Ga., District 3, Class D; * Bohdan Watral, president/CEO, Selfreliance Ukrainian American FCU, Chicago, District 4, Class B; * Ron Collier, CEO of Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis, District 2, Class C; * Sandy Lingerfelt, Clinchfield FCU, Erwin, Tenn., for District 3, Class A; * Brett Thompson, Wisconsin Credit Union League, Pewaukee, Wis., for District 4, Class D; and * Winona Nava, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., for District 5, Class A.
The eight directors elected will take office Feb. 27, 2009, for three-year terms to expire at the adjournment of the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class B; * District 2, Class C; * District 3, Class A; * District 3, Class D; * District 4, Class B; * District 4, Class D; * District 5, Class A; and * District 6, Class C.
Nominators must submit the appropriate forms and obtain consent of the candidate. Voting will begin Oct. 22 and will close on Dec. 19. For more information, use the resource links.

Eleven CU pros earn new security certification

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--Eleven credit union professionals earned their credentials as Security Fraud Experts through CUNA’s new Security Certification School, which took place Sept. 21-26 in Seattle. The institute is designed to confirm professionals’ ability to secure the safety of their credit unions. Graduates include:
* William Barrett, First Commonwealth FCU, Lehigh Valley, Pa.; * Linda Baughman, Commonwealth CU Inc., Frankfort, Ky.; * Barbara Bethea, Fort Campbell FCU, Clarksville, Tenn.; * Melissa Catlow, Verity CU, Seattle; * Leland Cramer, Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis; * Douglas Gonzalez, Massachusetts State Employees CU, Boston; * Richard Klefsky, Suffolk FCU, Medford, N.Y.; * Cindy MacDonald, PSECU, Harrisburg, Pa.; * Michael McMillan, Rocky Mountain CU, Helena, Mont.; * Michele Motter, PSECU, Harrisburg, Pa.; and * Don Whitler, Randolph-Brooks FCU, Universal City, Texas.
For more information on the Security Certification School, use the link.

Members CU launches Ask Jack blog

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (10/16/08)--Members CU, Winston-Salem, N.C., has launched the “Ask Jack” blog to help its credit union members understand financial news. The “Ask Jack” blog allows consumers to send questions about finances directly to Members CU President/CEO Jack Braswell Jr. The questions can be submitted anonymously and will be answered publicly on the blog. “Grasping the implications of complex financials can be tough,” Braswell said. “Our site will allow consumers to get unbiased, straightforward answers from a not-for-profit financial cooperative whose simple goal is to reduce public panic about their money.” Members CU has $208 million in assets. To read the blog, use the link.

Survey CUs overdraft fees lower than banks

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CHICAGO (10/16/08)--A recent survey indicates that credit unions charge lower overdraft fees to its members compared with banks and other financial institutions. According to data gathered by Moebs Services, credit unions’ average overdraft fees are $24.24, compared with the $27.03 charged by banks. The national average is $25.67, according to the survey (BusinessWire Oct. 15). Debit card overdrafts are allowed by 57.9% of credit unions, compared with 47.8% of banks. ATM overdrafts are allowed by 40.5% of credit unions, compared with 33.5% of banks. The national average is 36.9%, the survey said. Moebs also said that the average price of overdrafts has increased by an average of 2.59% each year. “There is a clear trend that market forces are at work in establishing the fees that banks and credit unions charge in different parts of the country,” Moebs said. It also noted that upcoming regulatory changes by the Federal Reserve could increase competition between banks and credit unions. The survey also indicated that Miami, Washington, D.C., and Denver are the three highest-priced markets in the U.S. for overdraft fees. Financial institutions in Miami charge an average fee of $30.26 for overdraft coverage, compared with $28.15 in Washington, D.C., and $28.02 in Denver. Florida ranks as the highest-priced state for overdraft fees at $29.55 per check. The three lowest-priced cities are San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles, with respective average charges of $22.39, $22.79 and $22.92. The lowest-priced states are California, Illinois and Wisconsin, the survey said.

International CUs gird against financial turmoil

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--With International Credit Union Day here, it is noteworthy that British, Japanese and New Zealand credit unions are gearing up to ensure safety against global financial troubles. The New Zealand Association of Credit Unions endorsed the inclusion of credit unions Tuesday in a national deposit guarantee plan (Scoop.co.nz Oct. 13). Because of New Zealand credit unions “sound business operation,” 170,000 member depositors will be given the same commitment from the government as those given to banks, Doug McLaren, chief executive, New Zealand Association of Credit Unions, told the newspaper. The Japanese government and ruling parties have decided to create an emergency funding mechanism geared to bolstering smaller lenders balance sheets through preventive injections of public funds. The move started in response to small and midsize financial institutions in the U.S. being negatively impacted by financial turmoil, the government said (Nikkei Report Oct. 10). The government is considering an infusion of 10 trillion yen [nearly $99 billion] with potential recipients being credit unions, Shinkin banks and second-tier regional banks, the paper said. [Shinkin banks are cooperative regional financial institutions serving small and medium enterprises and local residents. Anyone who lives, works, or has an office in the region served by the bank can become a member. However, companies with over 300 employees are prohibited from membership.] The plan will be drafted into legislation and likely finalized later this month, as it is incorporated into the Japanese government’s second economic stimulus package. Currently, a regional financial institution can qualify for funding if its failure would pose a threat to available credit in the region. This has led to demands for a safety net for financial institutions that are too little to meet this condition, the paper said. British credit unions are safe from the turmoil afflicting many other financial institutions, according to the Association of British Credit Unions, Ltd (Express and Echo Oct. 14). Mark Lyonette, the association’s chief executive said in a statement: “As credit unions do not rely on borrowing from other banks or the international money markets, and are not in the business of buying up the debts of the financial institutions, they are well sheltered from the economic turmoil that is causing worry for so many people at the moment. “Credit unions use the savings of their members to make loans to other members,” he added. “Savings in credit unions are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.” [The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is the UK's statutory fund of last resort for customers of authorized financial services firms. This means that FSCS can pay compensation if a firm is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it. FSCS is an independent body, set up under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.]

CUNA receives record number of Desjardins entries

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has received a record number of entries for the Desjardins Award this year. Judges will select the best examples of youth financial education from 53 credit union and league entries. Entries in the Desjardins contest have risen steadily in the eight years since its inception, according to CUNA. “With the economy undercutting families’ financial security and peace of mind, it’s gratifying to know that credit unions in so many parts of the country are taking the lead in teaching young people to manage their money wisely,” said Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance, which runs the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award competition. “The judges are going to have their hands full determining the top credit union programs from so many worthy entries.” This year’s Desjardins judges are:
* Amy Rae Crowe, Development Educator (DE), public relations and education liaison, Great Wisconsin CU, Madison; * Marty Kelly, senior vice president of marketing and business development, US FCU, Burnsville, Minn.; and * Pamela Owens, DE, director of education and training, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, New York, N.Y.
The Desjardins Award is named in honor of Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the North American credit union movement. It considers all activities supporting the personal finance education of young members and nonmembers, including, but not limited to, face-to-face teaching, publicity, lobbying for curriculum requirements, teacher and volunteer training, and promotion and use of the National Endowment for Financial Education High School Financial Planning Program. Each year, national Desjardins winning and honorable mention awards are presented at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in conjunction with the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility and Louise Herring Philosophy in Action recognition programs.

ASI FCU to host local Night Out Against Debt

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HARAHAN, La. (10/16/08)--ASI FCU, a local leader in the world of community development financing, announced that it will be hosting a Night Out Against Debt on Nov. 6. The evening will feature a screening of the documentary film “Maxed Out,” as well as food, prizes, and information to help people better their financial situations. The timing of this event could not be more appropriate, in light of the financial crisis facing our nation, said the credit union. “There is no doubt that the recent economic downturn is cause for concern,” said Mignhon Tourné, president/CEO of local ASI FCU. “At the same time, an opportunity has been created for all Americans and financial industry leaders to take a serious look at how we manage our money.” “ASI has a long, solid history of serving the underserved and promoting economic empowerment and asset accumulation,” added Tourné. “By hosting the upcoming Night Out Against Debt, ASI FCU hopes to draw attention to the irresponsible lending practices that so many financial service providers have used to the detriment of the American people. More importantly, ASI staff hopes to show local citizens what they can do to more easily manage their finances and rebuild their credit.” “Maxed Out” takes viewers on a journey deep inside the American style of debt. With coverage that spans from small American towns all the way to the White House, the film shows how the modern financial industry works, explains the true definition of “preferred customer” and explains why the poor are getting poorer while the rich keep getting richer, the credit union said. Hilarious, shocking and incisive, “Maxed Out” paints a picture of a nightmare, which is real for some Americans. Following the movie screening, ASI staff members will be on hand to offer free counseling on debt and financial management. Tickets to the event are free, but must be reserved by calling 504-733-1733, ext.79210. ASI FCU is based in Harahan, La., and has $280.3 million in assets.