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Federation awarded 750000 CDFI Fund grant

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MILWAUKEE (10/5/09)--The U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund Friday announced awards totaling $52 million to 62 organizations that serve economically distressed communities nationwide, including the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and two credit unions. The federation received a $750,000 award from the program. Neighborhood Trust FCU received $350,000 and Union Settlement FCU received $500,000. Both credit unions are located in New York City. Financial assistance provided through the program helps CDFIs increase lending activities in underserved areas, according to CDFI Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell, who announced the awards in Milwaukee. It also helps organizations, including credit unions, to provide affordable financial products and services to low-income communities and populations. “As we celebrate this national award announcement, we are also celebrating the work of these community-based lenders that enables the dreams of entrepreneurs to become realities,” she said. The CDFI Program is funded through an annual appropriation from Congress. The fund receives applications annually and awards funds through a competitive process. The fund has awarded more than $821 million since its inception. The CDFI Fund received 452 applications from organizations nationwide, requesting more than $529 million in funding under the fiscal year 2009 round of the CDFI Program. The awards complete the 2009 funding round by awarding the remaining funds to the most highly rated applicants in a pool that included:
* Applicants that submitted applications responding to the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) published in the Federal Register April 28; and * Applicants that applied under the initial 2009 NOFA published Aug. 15, 2009, but did not receive a Recovery Act award in the first funding announcement.

CUs in media spotlight as ICU Day approaches

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MADISON, Wis. (10/5/09)--As credit unions count down the days to Oct. 15--which is International Credit Union Day--some in Ohio and North Carolina are picking up the media spotlight for their efforts. Ohio's credit unions will be featured this week, sharing their knowledge and resources to help members build sound financial futures, says the Ohio Credit Union League (eLumination Newsletter Sept. 30). "The week preceding International Credit Union Week, the entire episode of the Ohio News Network's (ONN) Ohio & Company program will be dedicated to consumer finance issues, education and tips, courtesy of Ohio's credit unions and paid for by the Ohio Credit Union League," the league said. ONN is carried by nearly every cable outlet in the state. The 30-minute news magazine program will feature three segments:
* Budgeting for everyday living and the upcoming holidays; * Teaching kids money skills using MoneyAndStuff.info's free materials and resources; and * How credit impacts your life and making smart decisions.
All the information will be available on "The Difference, YOU" website, OhioDifference.com, and viewers will be encouraged throughout the program to visit FindACreditUnion.com to locate a credit union to join. The program will air Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday at 10 a.m., Thursday at 11:30 a.m., and Friday at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., reaching several different viewing audiences. Also, in North Carolina, Charlotte Metro FCU Chief Marketing Director Nathan Tothrow was featured on WJZY's "Morning Buzz" show, educating listeners about what credit unions are, how they are different, and how one can join. He also introduced the credit union's promotional spot, "You Can Do Better," that is airing online and in call center channels. The ad has increased membership applications 200%, he told show host Angela Golden. To view the show and the commercial, use the link.

137000 fin lit grant OKd for Vermont CUs

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (10/5/09)--A $137,000 federal grant to improve financial literacy among Vermont’s high school student population has been approved for use by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU). With the grant’s approval, the association has announced the launch of a state-wide, high school-based financial literacy program (Newslines Express Oct. 2). “The Concerts for Financial Literacy … presented by Vermont’s Credit Unions” will weave together financial literacy education, music and social media interaction into a cohesive package targeted directly at the lifestyle and values of Vermont’s 14- to 18-year-old population, the association said. The educational components will be delivered through school presentations, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and through videos hosted on a new AVCU website dedicated to the program. Students at dozens of Vermont high schools can participate in online contests and special events to win the opportunity of hosting a Concert for Financial Literacy at their high school. The concerts will feature professional musicians who have their own financial literacy messages to share, and student-musician groups selected from “Battle of the Bands” contests organized through the social media websites. The concerts will take place in May, and the process will repeat in the fall of next year and the spring of 2011.

Sen. Hagan headlines high school branch opening

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (10/5/09)--U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of Allegacy FCU’s fourth student-run credit union, Bobcat Student CU, at a local high school Sept. 21. While celebrating the student branch’s opening, Hagan also discussed the details of the Financial Literacy for Students Act of 2009, her first piece of legislation as a U.S. senator (Weekly Update Oct. 1). “We’ve got to empower people to make smart financial decisions,” Hagan said. She commended Winston-Salem-based Allegacy and R.B. Glenn High School, where Bobcat Student CU is located.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), center, cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of Bobcat Student CU at a Winston-Salem, N.C., high school. The student-run credit union is a branch of Allegacy FCU, also located in Winston-Salem. (Photos provided by the North Carolina Credit Union League).
Saving just a dollar or two a week adds up, North Carolina Credit Union League President John Radebaugh told students at the opening of Allegacy FCU’s student-run branch at R.B. Glenn High School in Winston-Salem.
One-third of adults in a recent Harvard University study didn’t understand compound interest or how their credit card accounts work, Hagan said. The lack of basic financial knowledge at home underscores the need for financial education in the classroom, she added. “Our students need to enter the work force with the skills to make smart financial decisions when applying for credit cards, securing student loans, taking out a mortgage or managing a budget,” Hagan said. Bobcat Student CU will be staffed by 10 student volunteers and a teacher liaison and will be open during lunch three days a week. The volunteers will accept deposits and help student manage their accounts. They also will receive course credit for their work. North Carolina Credit Union League President John Radebaugh, who attended the opening, encouraged students to join the credit union and save money. “Even if it’s only a dollar or two a week, it does add up,” he said.

Microsavings focus of rural microfinance meeting

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MEXICO CITY (10/5/09)--More than 500 people from Mexico and six other countries came together last week in Mexico City to learn how credit unions in Mexico are sustainably serving the rural poor, and how other credit unions can do the same. World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Proyecto de Asistencia Técnica al Microfinanciamiento Rural (PATMIR) project of the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA), co-hosted the two-day event on Rural Microfinance: Strategies for Reaching the Rural Poor. SAGARPA funds WOCCU's development program in Mexico. The typical profile of a person living in poverty is that of an individual who understands and is accustomed to a credit culture, said Luis Jara, project director for WOCCU's Mexico program, during a presentation on Wednesday. Donor-funded development programs, as a result, have focused on providing microcredit to alleviate poverty in rural communities. Recent research on microcredit programs, however, has questioned the effectiveness of this approach. Through the PATMIR project, WOCCU's focus in Mexico is to bring financial services to the poor and help them build assets through savings.
Click to view larger image The general manager and board members of Caja Zongolica CU, located in the mountains of Veracruz state, attend a session on “Creating Opportunities for Rural Areas” by Margarito Saavedra, general manager of Caja Yanga CU at a two-day conference on Rural Microfinance: Strategies for Reaching the Rural Poor, held last week in Mexico City.
Click to view larger image Meeting after a press conference at a rural microfinance conference Tuesday are, from left, Luis Jara, World Council of Credit Unions; Jeffrey Max Jones, sub-secretary of agri-business strengthening, Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA); Gabriela Zapata, SAGARPA/ Proyecto de Asistencia Técnica al Microfinanciamiento Rural; and Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
“We always knew that people in rural areas save ... that the poor save in real goods such as animals, bricks, even tires,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Today, we know more about cash flows in rural households, that they depend on diverse sources of income--some agricultural, some not. With PATMIR's leadership, we have learned how to bring financial services to the member without constructing a branch office in every village. Currently, we are learning how to use technology to lower the costs of service delivery.” WOCCU's development program in Mexico helps credit unions expand services to underserved areas through its rural outreach methodology, semilla cooperativa [cooperative seed], which emphasizes savings mobilization. Credit unions train rural field officers to attract new members, extend financial education, approve small loan applications and bring credit, savings and remittance services directly to people living in remote areas up to 19 miles from branch offices. New technologies and tools implemented through the program’s credit unions debunk the myth that the poor are too expensive and risky to serve, WOCCU said. Personal digital assistants, handheld printers, point-of-service devices and plans for installing ATMs in rural areas help reduce the risks and costs of reaching marginalized communities by making transactions more efficient. Credit unions also use a WOCCU-developed route-costing tool to identify viable areas for expansion. The Mexico program is surveying 20,000 people living in rural areas to determine their true financial needs. Preliminary results reveal that 54% of members joined the credit union to access both savings and credit products, compared with 26%, who only wished to access credit. Of the non-members surveyed, 46% were interested in both savings and loans, whereas 20% desired credit. The survey results will help the program create an accurate member profile and assist credit unions with tailoring their products and services. “Savings and credit aren’t new, but we're making headway in determining the best delivery method, mechanisms and packaging to best meet the needs of the poor,” said Gabriela Zapata, director of financial organization strengthening with SAGARPA's PATMIR project. The semilla cooperativa model outshines typical group lending programs because it is savings-based and serves both men and women, she added. Many credit unions have said they do not reach out to the poor because it is too dangerous, expensive and difficult, and that it is not their market, Jara said. He explained that if you inspire confidence and trust in members, the credit union will grow. Nineteen people from five countries also attended the second year of WOCCU's Manager Certification Program, a hands-on regional training program to give credit union managers tools to analyze and forecast the financial condition of their institutions.

KV FCU moving forward--as a CU

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AUGUSTA, Maine (10/5/09)--Kennebec Valley FCU (KV FCU), whose members voted down a proposal to convert to a bank and merge with Kennebec Savings Bank, is looking toward business as usual as a credit union, says KV FCU's president, who said she will continue her plans to step down in March. Beverly Beaucage, president of the $53 million asset, Augusta, Maine-based KV FCU, expressed "disappointment" at the vote's outcome to a local newspaper Morning Sentinel (Oct. 2). However, the credit union's managers and directors will move on as a credit union without seeking another merger partner, she said. KV FCU will introduce some new member services that were put on hold during the merger process. "This is a business, and when you hear from your base that it wants to go in a different direction, that's what you do," she told the newspaper. She noted that the membership has been "quiet" for years and hadn't attended annual meetings. "In a sense, it's good to hear from the members." she said. KV FCU Board Chairman Richard Tardiff issued a statement that the board members respect the credit union members' will and the democratic process. The merger proposal spawned two member advocacy groups. KV Members Matter opposed the proposal and was supported by the Maine Credit Union League, according to league President John Murphy. KV Members Voting Yes for the Merger, which favored the merger, was supported by Kennebec Savings Bank. Both groups debated the merger proposal publicly in a series of letters to the editor of local newspapers. The vote concluded Sept. 21 and was tallied by a New York City firm, said the article. Credit union officials did not ask for the exact vote tally or the number of members voting, Beaucage said, adding the credit union just wanted direction from its members. Credit union officials had been planning the conversion for more than a year and had approached the bank about a possible merger. A merger between a bank and a credit union would have been the first of its type in Maine. Plans were for Beaucage to serve in a management position at the bank if the merger succeeded. However, she planned to retire within months after the merger date. She said the merger has not prompted her retirement. She will leave in March after 21 years.

Missouri honors CU achievements with awards

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JEFFERSON, Mo. (10/5/09)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) recognized individuals for their credit union achievements during its convention and expo Sept. 23.
Click to view larger image Longtime credit union volunteer Earl Ogolin, second from left, was honored by the Missouri Credit Union Association for his 60 years of service to the movement. With him are from left, sons Steve and Michael Ogolin and his wife Moni. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
MCUA showcased outreach efforts of 24 Missouri credit unions during an awards reception Sept. 22. The association honored winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award, Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action, and the Desjardin Youth Financial Education Award at the state level. First place winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award in their asset categories include:
* Poplar Bluff (Mo.) FCU, $20 million to $50 million in assets; * Central Missouri Community CU, Warrensburg, $50 million to $100 million; * Mid Missouri CU, Ft. Leonard Wood, $100 million to $200 million; * Neighbors CU, St. Louis, $200 million to $500 million; and * CommunityAmerica, Kansas City, more than $500 million.
First place Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action winners were:
* Neighbors CU, $50 million to $250 million asset category; and * Anheuser-Busch Employees’ CU, St. Louis, more than $250 million.
Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award first place winners include:
* Central Missouri Community CU, $35 million to $75 million; * St. Louis Community CU, $75 million to $250 million; and * Vantage CU, Bridgeton, more than $250 million.
Electro Savings CU, St. Louis; St. Louis Community CU; and United CU, Mexico, also received platinum “You Make the Difference” achievement awards. MCUA also honored Earl Ogolin, a long-time credit union volunteer, for more than 60 years of service to the movement. He was named to the Missouri Honor Roll. He has volunteered at First Missouri CU and Southpointe CU, both in St. Louis. His wife, Moni, and sons Michael and Steve, also work in the credit union movement.

CU System briefs (10/02/2009)

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* RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (10/5/09)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, has donated $17,200 in two grants for youth financial literacy efforts. Educational Employees CU, Fresno, received $10,000 to help fund the opening of a student credit union branch at Clovis West High School. Junior Achievement (JA) of Sacramento received $7,200 for its classroom presentation program. The funds will help provide financial education to 328 students in 14 elementary school classrooms next May. Volunteers from SAFE CU, North Highlands, and The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, will present the program. The grant will fund classroom materials for the volunteers … * PEARL RIVER, N.Y. (10/5/09)--Palisades FCU, based in Pearl River, N.Y., offered unleaded gasoline at $1.99 per gallon Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as a thank you to the community and its New City neighbors for accepting the credit union into the community and making the New City branch a success. The gas station is diagonally across from the branch. The credit union said before the event it expected a large turnout … * HOUSTON (10/5/09)--Houston-based Primeway FCU has created a website to assist Houstonians who have been laid off from their jobs. LaidoffinHouston.com features free financial counseling, links for state unemployment and job searches, and financial advice, as well as resume, interviewing and networking tips. Other information includes how to file for unemployment and what an unemployed individual's next financial steps should be. The credit union has $261 million in assets (Houston Business Journal Oct. 2)… * INDIANAPOLIS (10/5/09)--FORUM CU, a $1 billion asset credit union based in Indianapolis, has introduced its new Sprout youth savings account for youth ages 0 to 18 to save money for college, car, down payment on a home and more. Sprout is similar to a 529 Plan or Coverdell Education Savings Accounts in that it earns interest and applies certain penalties for early closure or withdrawals. However it does not require the owner to use the money specifically on school. FORUM CU will match 10% of deposited funds per calendar year, based on different tier levels. No minimum deposit is required. The account matures when the account owner turns 18 and automatically transfers into the owner's savings account …