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CU System Briefs (10/29/2010)

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* TRUMBULL, Conn. (11/1/10)--Personal Care America FCU, a $16.5 million-asset credit union, based in Trumbull, Conn., wrapped up its first annual Souper Bowl Warm-up on Oct. 20. Two “teams” of credit union employees took names from both the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference “played” each other for the right to play in the “Souper Bowl,” which will conclude in November. The premise was straight forward; the teams scored points when someone donated a new pair of socks, gloves or a hat; one point for each item. A team will score during the “Souper Bowl” when a food item is donated. The New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Eagles while the New England Patriots lost to the New York Jets. The Giants and the Jets are now engaged in an “epic” battle for the “Souper Bowl” title. Credit union President/CEO John E. Keet Jr. said almost 150 items were donated to The Community Closet in Bridgeport which supports local shelters and charities …

CUNA Mutuals first Online Discovery Conference draws worldwide interest

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MADISON, Wis. (11/1/10)--Nearly 1,200 credit union industry staff have registered for CUNA Mutual Group’s first-ever Online Discovery Conference, set for Nov. 3. Registration remains open until the day of the event. The free event has drawn interest from 36 credit union leagues and credit unions nationwide and globally, including the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago. Registrants and those who may consider attending are encouraged to visit a YouTube link (see resource link) that provides a short primer about Online Discovery. Online Discovery is the Web-based equivalent of a face-to-face conference without the associated expenses or time away from the office. Attendees will benefit from its 11 learning sessions that feature future-focused content that will help credit unions solve problems, face challenges and address opportunities, CUNA Mutual said. CUNA Mutual is a provider of financial services to credit unions, their members and customers worldwide. In a related matter, the Credit Union National Association has announced an agreement with CUNA Mutual to bring its Discovery Conference breakout sessions to the 2011 America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC) & Expo taking place June 19 through June 22 in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, use the links.

CUNAs Schenk tells biz pubs about market economy

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NEW YORK (11/1/10)--Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics at the Credit Union National Association, provided insights on consumer lending and the market to two national business publications last week. Schenk talked about the effect of lower long-term interest rates in a Thursday CNNMoney.com article titled, “The Fed’s ‘tax on the consumer.’” “Banks will have a lot more money to lend, and lower rates will make it easier for people to borrow,” Schenk told CNNMoney. “But the problem is that people are still up to their eyeballs in debt and are in the process of paying it down, so it's unclear how much more they'll be willing to borrow.” Schenk commented that the US. market is taking a more realistic look at the Federal Reserve’s actions in regard to easing--manifest through the U.S. Treasury’s recent $29 billion auction of 7-year notes--in a Thursday article titled “Stocks finish mixed amid uncertainty on Fed plans,” in The Street.com. “In the last day or two, it seems like the market has started to look at Fed easing more realistically,” Schenk told the publication. “Expectations were very high for significant and immediate easing. Those expectations have come down--and rightly so--the Fed wasn't going to go in with guns blazing. “The nervousness related to the potential increases in inflation that a big move in easing could have is well understood by the Fed,” he added. Also, favorable jobs data bolstered consumer confidence, Schenk told The Street.com. “A good deal of the optimism we saw earlier was related to the favorable jobs number, which is good and moving in the right direction, but when all is said and done, it doesn't change the fundamental outlook for the jobs market,” Schenk said. “Consumers are still behaving cautiously and in the mode of deleveraging.” To read the articles, use the links.

Maine CUs seek to help end hunger

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OLD TOWN, Maine (11/1/10)--Representatives from Maine credit unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger recently joined Crossroads Ministries Executive Director Brenda Davis at Penobscot County FCU to launch her ninth annual walking tour of Maine, which aims to increase awareness of the problem of hunger during November, Ending Hunger Month. During the celebration, Davis, whose Old Town-based agency serves thousands in eastern Maine, was presented with a donation, the first of many. This year's walk officially begins Thursday at Maine State CU in Augusta and will conclude with a ceremony at Brewer (Maine) FCU on Dec. 2. The walk is expected to encompass more than 1,500 miles, about 700 of those on foot. Davis will visit 79 credit union branches in 72 communities from Kittery to Madawaska. At each branch Davis visits, she will pick up a contribution from the campaign. This year, the Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger also will donate $105 to a food pantry in each of the 72 communities that Davis will visit. Since 1990, Maine credit unions have raised more than $3.5 million against hunger.

Former high school utility closet now a CU branch

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EWING, N.J. (11/1/10)--At Ewing High School, a former utility closet has become a credit union branch location with a student intern serving as its manager, reported the Trenton, N.J. Times (Oct. 27). This is the first student-run branch to be opened by Credit Union of New Jersey (CUNJ). “The concept of a student branch is not unique, per se, but they are not that common," said Andrew Jaeger, CUNJ president/CEO. “The residents of Ewing should be proud of the leadership and the foresight this district has taken.” The new branch is connected to the school’s senior experience program and a new financial literacy program. “They’re learning the theory in class and putting it to practice in the branch,” said Garret Komjathy, director of the division of banking of the State Department of Banking and Insurance. Ewing High School senior Will Burnett will run the branch on Tuesdays and Thursdays as part of his internship that provides experience and course credit. Students, faculty and staff will be able to make deposits and withdrawal funds from checking and savings accounts.

Purdue CU to change name after merger

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (11/1/10--Purdue Employees FCU (PEFCU) is changing its name to Purdue FCU to reflect its new broader membership when the merger with Members United FCU, LaPorte, Ind. takes effect Dec. 1. "Just as Purdue has grown to serve several Indiana communities through regional campuses, we are excited to expand our services to the students, faculty, staff and community of Purdue North Central and LaPorte County," said Bob Falk, president/ CEO of PEFCU. As PEFCU expands into its new market, a new logo will reflect the new name. "The credit union's look may be changing, but we are not changing who we are," Falk said. Founded on the Purdue University campus in 1969, PEFCU has more than $600 million in assets. Members United FCU was funded in 1941 as Modine Employees FCU. It received a community charter in 2000, allowing it to serve people who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school in LaPorte County. It has $6 million in assets.

Report CUs outpace other FIs in rural outreach

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MADISON, Wis. (11/1/10)--A recent report released by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and The World Bank Group reveals that 45% of financial cooperative branches--more than any other type of financial institution--are located in rural areas where financial services tend to be least accessible. The report, Financial Access 2010: The State of Financial Inclusion Through the Crisis, also states that financial cooperatives hold the second largest global network behind commercial banks, with 23% of all physical branches, automatic teller machines (ATMs) and point-of-sale (POS) terminals worldwide. World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) encouraged CGAP and The World Bank Group to take a closer look at financial cooperatives for this year's report and continues to collaborate with researchers and policymakers to recognize the contributions of financial cooperatives worldwide. Report findings were based on a survey of financial regulators in 142 economies representing 94% of the global population and 98% of global gross domestic product (GDP). “These statistics highlight the crucial role that credit unions play in ensuring financial access, especially in rural areas,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services. “The challenge for many countries is how to translate this into higher membership growth.” WOCCU’s development programs help bridge the gap in access to financial services by working with credit unions to expand services to underserved rural communities in countries around the globe. In Mexico, WOCCU is deploying new technologies to bring services to remote areas more quickly while ensuring profitability for the credit unions. And across the world in Sri Lanka, WOCCU is working with a women’s financial cooperative to implement an agricultural lending program that combines technical farming assistance with agricultural lending. During the past three years, WOCCU’s program in Mexico, funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food, has worked with 54 credit unions in 22 states to expand 235 points of service into rural, marginalized areas. Through a combination of building rural branches, installing ATMs and providing mobile financial services in outlying communities, the credit unions have brought more than 200,000 people into the financial system. Some credit unions have employed the use of personal digital assistants (PDAs) on field visits to increase the efficiency and accuracy of financial transactions. WOCCU said its partnership with Sri Lanka Women’s Development Services Co-operative Society, a network of more than 120 branches, has helped strengthen the volunteer-run institution to expand rural outreach and develop a savings and agricultural lending program for women farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program has not only increased financial access for women farmers and their families, but also has helped raise the income of some rice farmers as much as 71% by connecting them with established markets and agricultural training. As in Mexico and Sri Lanka, credit unions worldwide are employing innovative strategies to reach and better serve their membership. For more about WOCCU’s efforts to improve financial access through credit unions, use the link.