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Governments educator tool kit adds to fin lit efforts

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (2/18/11)--The Obama administration Wednesday released its new "educator toolkit" with lesson plans teachers can use to help students prepare for the upcoming 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge. The project adds another resource to America's attempts to educate youth about finances--something credit unions, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and state leagues and associations have been involved in for several years. "Empowering students with the knowledge they need to make smart financial choices about saving, budgeting, and investing for the future is good for the long-term strength of our economy," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "It will help ensure that young people have the skills they need to achieve financial security, and that will help us continue to build this recovery on a strong and sustainable foundation." That's exactly what credit unions involved in educating youth have said. CUNA's National Credit Union Youth Week, which is April 17-23, has a theme this year of "Money Rock$ at My Credit Union." CUNA's Googolplex websites for youth also educate them in financial matters. Associated with that is CUNA's eighth National Youth Savings Challenge. In April 2010, roughly 352 credit unions participating in the program encouraged 176,750 youth to put a collected $24.8 million in their credit union savings accounts. Of those, 10,631 were brand new accounts. The National Endowment for Financial Education's (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program, which many credit unions use as a basis for curricula during classroom presentations, is one of the few financial education programs that have an evaluation component typically measuring knowledge gains with a pre-test and post-test. Like many of the credit unions' projects, the government's educational toolkit covers five core competencies of financial education: earning, spending, saving, borrowing and protecting against risk. It includes lesson plans from the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), and non-profit organizations. This year the educator toolkit will include interactive online lessons and Spanish language materials. The government's challenge includes a voluntary online exam for high school students that begins as of March 7 and that helps teach young Americans about saving, budgeting, investing and other skills critical to building a strong financial future. The highest scoring students on the exam will be recognized through a national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., and other high scorers will receive official award certificates. Last year more than 76,000 students and 2,500 educators in 50 states participated in last year's National Financial Capability Challenge. It is one of several projects offered by the administration. In November, the National Credit Union Administration, the FDIC and the U.S. Department of Education announced a partnership to encourage schools and financial institutions to work together to increase students' financial capability. For more on educational efforts by credit unions, use the links.

First Carolina Corporate moves forward on PCC offering

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (2/18/11)--First Carolina Corporate CU is moving forward to present members with its Perpetual Contributed Capital (PCC) offering and is asking member credit unions to submit their subscription agreements by April 29. Beginning in October, PCC will be mandatory for all First Carolina members. The corporate is targeting a goal of $60 million to $75 million in PCC--a one-time requirement with no planned annual adjustments. PCC is an approved form of tier 1 capital investment introduced with the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) revised Regulation Part 704. It would give all member credit unions an ownership stake in First Carolina and ensure the capital strength to provide them products and services to succeed in today's financial arena. As perpetual capital, PCC is available to absorb possible losses from corporate operations if reserves and undivided earnings were depleted. The corporate submitted its capital restoration plan to NCUA in January. The plan calls for participating credit unions to convert existing membership capital share deposit balances and invest additional money in First Carolina to help it meet NCUA's new capital ratio requirements. "The objectives of the plan are three-fold," said David Brehmer, president/CEO of the $2 billion asset corporate. "It will allow us to maintain our current level of high quality products and member service. It will allow us to achieve a well-capitalized status under the new regulatory requirements for capital. And it positions us to successfully operate as a value-added, independent corporate within a restructured corporate network and under new corporate regulatory guidelines," he said. "With members' support, we expect to complete the offering this spring and be fully compliant with the capital standards outlined in the new regulation by the October 2011 deadline," said Brehmer. Last fall, the corporate held 12 town-hall meetings and a series of webcasts to explain its capital plan and prepare for this offering request, discuss its strategies, and obtain member credit unions' input. Most credit unions have attended at least one meeting and seem eager to move ahead with the capitalization process, said Brehmer. The capital restoration plan addresses all issues outlined in NCUA's December 2010 guidance letter, said the corporate. In August 2009, regulators approved First Carolina's plan to meet net economic value ratio requirements--before the new corporate regulation was published.

Federal holiday Monday no INews NowI

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (2/18/11)--News Now will not publish an issue on Monday, Feb. 21, which is a federal holiday. However, the Credit Union National Association's offices in Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis. will be open. News Now will resume regular publication on Tuesday.

America Saves Week begins Sunday

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MADISON, Wis. (2/18/11)--Credit unions will be among those joining in the fifth annual America Saves Week, which begins Sunday and ends Feb. 27. More than 1,800 organizations in 47 states are participating in activities to help Americans increase savings rates. With a motto of "Start Small, Think Big," the 2011 program is emphasizing saving automatically, through programs such as making regular, automated contributions into employer-sponsored retirement plans, signing up for regular transfers from checking to savings accounts and taking advantage of new rules that allow tax refunds to directly purchase U.S. savings bonds. One credit union participating is Credit Union of Ohio, a $115 million asset credit union in Columbus, Ohio. It is working with Ohio State University students, faculty and staff in the OSU Saves program. That program will kick off Thursday, with OSU President E. Gordon Gee becoming the first to sign up for OSU Saves. That program, presented by the credit union and Columbus Saves, an extension of America Saves, is simple: Each individual signs a pledge to save a specific amount for a targeted goal. OSU Savers will receive monthly savings tips and reminders to help them continue the savings path. "This is the first financial outreach program of its kind to be offered on a university campus in Ohio," said Credit Union of Ohio CEO Rich Capuano, noting the credit union is proud to be "leading the initiative to spread awareness, provide counseling and ultimately create smart savers on campus." America Saves Week is a partnership among financial institutions, government, military, non-profits, employers, educators and local campaigns. Coordinated by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America in partnership with the American Savings Education Council, it seeks to focus attention on how regular savings are an essential part of financial security, and to show how anyone can start with a savings plan. The savings rate is up to about 6% of Americans saving, compared with near zero before the recession, said the organization. However, most families still don't have an emergency fund, and 34% of Americans have no retirement savings, according to a Harris poll. A number of defense credit unions are participating in the Military Saves component of America Saves Week, and at least 33 credit unions are listed among participants of the national program. For more information, use the link.

More CUs than ever report in-school branches

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MADISON, Wis. (2/18/11)--The number of credit unions reporting in-school branches to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) rose significantly in 2010. As of Dec. 31, about 246 credit unions nationwide maintained branch offices in 936 schools, all of them student-run to some degree. The numbers reflect increases from 2009 of 6% (for credit unions), 14% (branches), and 10% (states). “Serving members in the workplace is a long-standing credit union specialty,” said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. “And serving youth in the K-12 ‘workplace’ is a sterling example of credit union uniqueness.” As good as these numbers are, they don’t paint the whole picture, Cheney added. National Credit Union Administration third-quarter 2010 data show that 348 credit unions had branches in schools. But that record contains no information about the number or grade level of youth branches. That’s why CUNA said its online directory is so important. “It gives us the detail to prove our philosophy of people helping people,” Cheney said, “And with contact information, the directory also serves as a resource for credit unions that want to make it possible for young people to develop a savings habit. Currently only three of four credit unions with in-school branches report to CUNA. Let’s make that 100%.” Here’s how reported in-school branches break down by venue for year-end 2010:
* Elementary schools, 397; * Middle schools, 103; * High schools, 390; and * Other (K-12 school, youth center, college, special needs), 46.
The top states for in-school branches are:
* Michigan, 58 credit unions, 370 schools; * Wisconsin, 33 credit unions, 86 schools; * Virginia, 16 credit unions, 77 schools; * Texas, 19 credit unions, 54 schools; * Florida, five credit unions, 46 schools; * New York, 10 credit unions, 36 schools; * Oregon, six credit unions, 31 schools; * Massachusetts, five credit unions, 26 schools; * Washington, eight credit unions, 25 schools; and * Pennsylvania, 10 credit unions, 22 schools.
The credit unions having the most in-school branches are:
* CP FCU, Jackson, Mich., 50 schools; * Apple FCU, Fairfax, Va., 34 schools; * Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., 32 schools; and * Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village, Mich., 31 schools.
Credit unions can report their in-school branches online. For the full state-by-state in-school branch summary, use the link.

CU offering mortgages members can re-set

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FAIRFAX, Va. (2/18/11)--Fairfax (Va.) County FCU (FCFCU) is the most recent credit union to offer a loan that allows members to change their mortgage rate with one click. The HarmonyLoan is a consumer-initiated, interest rate-resetting mortgage that aligns the interests of the consumer and credit union. It allows homeowners to adjust their interest rates with the market without the expense and hassle of a traditional refinance or new mortgage (Marketwire Feb. 16). “Members look to us to help them save on their home loans, and we are constantly looking for ways to better serve our members’ needs,” said Joseph D. Thomas Jr. president/CEO of the $230 million-asset FCFCU. “The HarmonyLoan allows our members to take control of their own mortgage with literally just one click each time they want to change their rate. The one-click rate change really couldn’t be easier--there’s no need to go through the costly and time-consuming process of traditional refinancing.” In September, Mortgage Harmony formed a partnership with the Credit Union Mortgage Association (CUMA) to make the HarmonyLoan available to the association’s credit union members based primarily in the Greater Washington, D.C., area. As a result of its partnership with Mortgage Harmony, CUMA said it implemented product development, origination and servicing requirements necessary to close its first HarmonyLoan within three months.

Latino Community CUs youth contest stresses savings

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DURHAM, N.C. (2/18/11)--Latino Community CU in Durham, N.C., is accepting entries for a contest to encourage youth to start saving and to develop sound financial practices. The “What’s Your Savings Story?” contest has invited schools, nonprofit organizations and faith communities to promote the contest--which is open to youth between 10 and 18 years old ( Feb. 16). Participants can read about the stories of “Isabel” and “David”--youth who are struggling to make good financial decisions, and then write their story about their efforts. The winners in each age category (10-12, 13-15, 16-18) receive $1,000 (first place), $500 (second place) and $250 (third place) in the form of a 24-month certificate of deposit as an incentive to start saving money for their future. The award money is made available through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The collection of stories will be used in the community, displayed in the $98.3 million-asset credit union’s branches and published on the Latino Community CU website to help encourage savings.

Howard Dean Karl Rove spar at Texas league GAC

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/18/11)--More than 200 Texas credit union activists and 100 legislators and staff were entertained by two of the top political minds in the country during the Texas Credit Union League’s Signature Dinner on Tuesday at the league’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
Click to view larger image Howard Dean (left) and Karl Rove (right) with Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler and his wife, Judy. (Photo provided by the Texas Credit Union League)
Howard Dean, former presidential candidate, Democratic National Committee Chair, and Vermont governor, and Karl Rove, former White House official and political adviser to President George W. Bush, squared off in a 75-minute debate on some of the hottest political issues of the day. The debate was moderated by Evan Smith, leader of Texas Monthly and current CEO of the Texas Tribune. The league’s GAC is held every other year to coincide with the Texas legislative session. Austin resident Rove had the “home team advantage,” particularly given the most recent election in which Texas Republicans have a majority in the State House and Senate. Dean, however, pointed out he is a long-time credit union member and proudly wore an “I love my Credit Union” button, then took the first few swings in a debate before a capacity crowd. “It was a fabulous evening that had everyone on the edge of their seats” said league President/CEO Dick Ensweiler. “Our lawmakers and their staffs sat with their constituents--credit union leaders across the state. Everyone really enjoyed the fireworks of these two political powerhouses.” Rove and Dean debated issues such as the root causes of the economic crisis, the situation in Egypt, and illegal immigration legislation, and forecast possible 2012 presidential election scenarios. Both agreed that if unemployment is reduced to less than 8% by 2012, President Barack Obama stands a strong chance to be re-elected, but unemployment levels above an 8% rate would make re-election much tougher.